Tim Banks may be new to Penn State but he isn’t to Michigan football.
The safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator grew up in Michigan and was a standout corner for Central Michigan in the early-mid 1990s. He also was a defensive coordinator for Central Michigan from 2007-09.
Banks talked to reporters via conference call on Thursday morning about the team’s preparation for the No. 4 Wolverines in Ann Arbor this weekend.
Question: As a Michigan native, then later playing at Central Michigan, what did you think of the Michigan program? Were you ever a fan? What was it like growing up there?
Answer: “Well, I don’t think you can live in the state of Michigan without being affected by their brand and overall tradition. I have numerous relatives, cousins who have graduated from there and I’m very, very familiar with their tradition. It’s great. It’s one of those things where any time you get a chance to go and compete against them, you know you’re on the same field where a lot of great players have been. Getting a chance to compete with them is exciting, so I’m looking forward to the challenge, I really am. Obviously there will be a lot of fans there; they have a big stadium as we do. Just looking forward to me personally having a chance to be back home and compete against a storied program.”
Q: As you guys get ready for Saturday’s game, what do you think is the biggest challenge that your safeties will see from a pretty dynamic Michigan offense?
A: “Well, I think just the overall perimeter speed and athleticism. It starts with (tight end) Jake Butt. Obviously he’s an All-Big Ten, All-American type player and he’s shown that the first couple of games. That will be the biggest challenge, the more he is having the ability to defend on his own in man situations. He’s just a big, strong kid who runs routes like a receiver. He’s definitely a big threat and we have our antennas up.”
Q: Can you speak to the challenge that the safeties face Saturday in defending the run and the pass?
A: “It’s always a challenge. We have to be really disciplined with our eyes, concentration and reading our keys. Obviously and then reacting accordingly. They make it really difficult on you. They do things well in terms of how they run the ball in a higher gear, and how I mentioned earlier, getting Butt involved in the throw game. We’ll have our work cut out for us, it’s definitely a balancing act.”
Q: What went into the decision to move (safety) Koa Farmer back to linebacker and what kind of skills does he bring to the table in that regard?
A: “The decision, just like every decision, was just to the best interest of our team as a whole. We’re trying to get our best 11 out there, and in situations where they can help the team. He is definitely a kid who we felt brought value in that regard. He’s also a kid who has played some linebacker in the past so it wasn’t foreign for him. We have some packages where he slid into that position in certain situations in some of the earlier games, so it was really a smooth transition in that regard. As far as what he brings to the table, he’s a really strong kid, he was actually a big safety…He still runs extremely well for his size. Hopefully he’ll bring us some added speed and definitely a kid who is happy to hopefully get some more playing time and help this defense and this team in any way possible.”
Q: From a coach’s perspective, what do you see in Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, and what makes him special?
A: “Wow. Just super competitive. That’s the one thing that jumps out to me. Just the way he goes about his business, you know, whether it’s kick return, whether I see him running the ball on offense, snaps on defense…Just super competitive. Obviously his skill set speaks for (itself). All the things they’ve asked of him to be able to do to help their team…You love to have those kids. It’ll obviously be a challenge defending him when he comes out there on offense. We’ll have our hands full even on special teams.”