It’s been a busy week for the Penn State football staff.
Between preparing for their Big Ten Championship matchup with No. 6 Wisconsin and trying to take advantage of a recruiting contact period, the Nittany Lion coaches have had their hands full.
But Penn State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks took some time out of his Thursday to speak with media about the Badgers and balancing gameplanning and recruiting.
Here are some highlights from the teleconference:
Q: How do you think (Wisconsin’s) going to attack you on offense?
A: I don’t think those guys will change. They’ll do exactly the Wisconsin model: run the ball, play-action pass. They’re big on the offensive front with their line, and they have good backs. They have a long history of being able to run the ball, control the clock and take shots appropriately. I think they’ll stick to their formula because obviously it’s gone well for them throughout the years.
Q: James Franklin talked about the challenges of the contact period and you guys preparing for this week, have you been out anywhere? Will you go out anywhere? How do you try to balance that?
A: It’s a big challenge. Obviously you’ve got to be able to take care of business with our own team and concentrate on trying to win this game. But you also have to have the ability to look toward the future and work with some guys that I’ve been really involved with in terms of the recruiting process. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s one that’s welcomed, being in this situation and having the opportunity to play this late in the year. Has it been difficult? Yeah. But we’ve enjoyed it, and playing in a championship is the best possible recruiting we can do, so I think the kids have really handled it well. They’ve been great with the few official visits we’ve had and us staying in contact.
Q: Wisconsin controls the clock, leading the nation in time of possession. Franklin mentioned how that can leave a defense antsy and open up some deep pass plays for Wisconsin. How have you worked with your guys and the defense in general to kind of say that this might happen and how to handle it?
A: We just talk about doing our job and concentrating on the next play, the next play, the next play. We can’t get frustrated. Obviously their goal is to try to get ahead of the chains. Our goal is to do the same. If we’re disciplined, particularly from a back-end perspective, keep our eyes in the right places, hopefully we can get off the field quicker than they’d want to. But the reality of it is they’ve been great controlling the ball. We’ve got to do a great job winning up front. The back-end has to do a good job covering. It’s a challenge that our guys are looking forward to. Hopefully we can answer the bell come Saturday.
Q: You mentioned the play-action Wisconsin uses…what makes what they do in that department so good compared to other teams? It seems like it’s something they’ve caught opponents on more often than not this year. You don’t change your focus in practice, but how do you counteract that aspect and get your guys ready for it?
A: What tends to happen, because they run the ball so effectively, people tend to have to get secondary guys involved. The more involved they get and the more reps that they get, sometimes you leave yourself vulnerable for a deep pass in the play-action. From our perspective, we have to do a good job of hopefully slowing the run game down to the point where we’re comfortable and can put them in some obvious passing situations…We just talk about winning the line of scrimmage, and from a safety and defensive back perspective, make sure we have our eyes in the right places. If we do those things, hopefully we can limit some of their deep shots and play-action passes.