A cheery and chipper Bob Shoop spoke (and joked) via teleconference on Thursday morning, and immediately, one thing was clear: There is no bigger fan of Penn State’s defensive players than their defensive coordinator.
Shoop has coached the team’s most consistent unit for two years, and before the Nittany Lions traveled to Columbus two weeks ago, the defense had been No. 10 in the nation in stopping the run. Since then, the unit has allowed almost 900 yards of offense — but Shoop didn’t seem ultimately concerned.
Instead, the defensive coordinator was impressed with how some members of his defense have stepped up to fill important roles, and how they’ve grown in the process — and revealed he takes a very mathematical approach when evaluating his squad from week to week.
A: “Up front, the defensive line is the deepest position on the team, and the success they’ve played with this season has demonstrated that. Told you before the season that a guy like Carl Nassib could emerge, and he sure has. And to me, he deserves every ounce of recognition he’s getting right now … but Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel are doing the same thing. Garrett Sickels. Watch a guy like Torrance Brown emerge and make plays during the game. Tarow Barney, Parker Cothran. When you get to the second level, Jason and Troy have done a great job. But Brandon Bell certainly hasn’t been 100 percent all year, so guys like Von Walker, Jake Cooper and Manny Bowen have stepped up and emerged … To watch those guys develop has been fun. And then in the back end too, with Jordan Lucas and (Marcus) Allen having missed time, Troy Apke and Malik Golden have stepped up and played very well...What’s exciting to me is that a lot of that depth, especially at the second and third level, are young guys.”