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Penn State Defensive Coordinator Brent Pry Talks About Football And Life At The Rose Bowl

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Let’s dig into the mind of the leader of the Lion defense.

Photo by Penn State Athletics

When speaking about the tendency for the team to be able to make positive adjustments at half-time:

I think part of it is we do have some young guys out there, some inexperienced players, and sometimes seeing the plays at live speed, getting used to the game speed against a different style of offense, I think there is some of that, an inexperience factor.

I think that's a sign of some maturity as we went through the season those guys were able to make adjustments. We were able to do some things with some guys, even when Cabinda and Bell were out of the lineup. So I think it's a maturity thing as the season wears on.

I think as the year went on, you could see the experience building in those guys, some guys up front, especially, were able to do it a little bit more.”

On the process that the coaching staff uses to make the adjustments:

I think one of the biggest challenges we have as coaches is to decipher what's really the issue. You know, you don't want to change things that really aren't broken. Maybe it's because a player didn't fit right. Maybe he missed a tackle. Maybe there was some compounding issues that dominoed a little bit. You've got to kind of boil it down and say what really happened? Why did they have this play? Why did they have success in this formation or this blockage scheme, then what we're doing, if that doesn't work, then we make an adjustment, but when we're trying to adjust without really knowing what the problem is, why it's not working, that's why I think it gave me some problems.”

Manny Bowen’s suspension and the impact of the loss of a linebacker on the team:

I think it's a learning experience for everybody. I think everybody makes mistakes, and we're able to have everybody learn from mistakes, you know? I think we'll be better for it.

Yeah, we're used to that right now, to be honest, and I'm a Manny Bowen fan. He's had a really good year for us.

But we just keep rolling. It's a rally cry for our group. There really wasn't any flinching in the room. Everybody's excited for Koa. There's more opportunities for Cam Brown, Brandon Bell's role, if it can grow, it's going to. He may not come off the field. But that's something I think we've handled very well throughout the season.”

On the improvement of the young defensive line:

Robert Windsor, Kevin Givens, Shareef Miller, you're talking about a bunch of red-shirt freshmen, Ryan Buchholz, that as the year went on, they got more comfortable at their position, and we got more comfortable doing more with them. You know, they allowed us to take the handcuffs off a little bit. I think sometimes in the first half I was probably somewhat conservative, let the guys get their feet wet and see how we're doing before we kind of get to the next level.”

The return next season of linebacker Jason Cabinda:

I told him I was going to tie him up and handcuff him and not let him go, so it didn't matter. It's a great feeling. We want all these guys to come back. We think we're on the verge of something really special. We were, as I mentioned, a relatively young team on defense. I think having Jason return, his leadership off the field, he's one of our best workers this winter, summer. He's a leader out there. So he helps us not just with his experience on the field, but leadership in the entire off-season.”

On being a part of the decision-making process for players that are considering going pro and whether it can put the coaches in a position where they may act selfishly:

Yeah, you talk openly, you know, and honestly with the guys. We want what's best for them. We want them to make a good decision based on all the information, not to be misinformed. Make sure you're making this with the right information.”

When asked about whether he was approached for head coaching opportunities:

You know, you get phone calls. If you don't act on them, if you're not interested -- at least for me personally, I'm happy where I am. I love the role I have right now. I love being at Penn State, love working for James. I love our group. I love the way we do things. I'm not a guy that's driven to be a head coach. In the right situation, to be a defensive coordinator somewhere else, no aspirations to do that. So it's not something that I've pursued. There are phone calls that you field, and I think some guys will take it a little further. For me I didn't want to waste anybody's time.”

I think in the right situation, with the right people, that opportunity I hope is out there for me at some point. I've never -- I just believe in patience and things happening for the right reasons. I think my wife and my kids are very happy in State College. That's important to me.”

There are a lot of hows and why we do things as coaches as far as moving based on family. That's a big part of it. I think that Coach Franklin does a tremendous job of just an inviting, welcoming, warm environment for our families, and that makes a difference. It really does. For a lot of us it does. Maybe not for everybody, but for me personally, that's a huge, huge box on my checklist of where I want to be. He certainly makes that.”