For a recap of the press conferences of James Franklin, Brent Pry, Ricky Rahne, Phil Galiano, and Trace McSorley, check out the notes and quotes piece from Clay here.
SPENCER BULLISH ON DEFENSIVE LINE
- First and foremost, the defensive line is full of characters. Before I could even ask my first question, Coach Spencer stopped me, pointed towards a dance competition between Damion Barber, Daniel Joseph, and Fred Hansard and jokingly said, “See what I gotta deal with?” You can tell Spencer keeps it light with his group.
- While Spencer noted he had “no idea” how good Penn State’s defensive end group is in comparison to the rest of country, Spencer admitted that this was the most talented, deepest group of defensive ends he’s ever had in Happy Valley. He went onto say that there isn’t a max number on his rotation — if someone is ready, they’re going to play.
- Of course, this led me to ask about Jayson Oweh’s role this upcoming season. “If he’s prepared to play, he’s going to play,” Spencer simply noted.
- When I asked Spencer about Micah Parsons’ potential role as a stand-up defensive end this season, Spencer didn’t dismiss the possibility. “If he’s not redshirted,” Spencer said. “We will obviously use his talents as the most we can to help us win.”
- I would expect to see Yetur Gross-Matos take over Ryan Buchholz’s old duty of sliding inside on certain third down passing situations. Buchholz is down to just 258 pounds (he was listed at 275 pounds last year), and Spencer was quick to mention Gross-Matos when asked about defensive ends playing inside.
- Overall, Spencer doesn’t seem too concerned about the depth at defensive tackle. As he put, “We got a lot of talent inside.” He said that every year he’s been here, there has always been question marks along the defensive front, but every year they’ve answered those. He pointed out that James Franklin doesn’t want to build a team, he wants to build a program, which is why they’re able to reload season-after-season.
- I was curious to hear his thoughts on Judge Culpepper’s weight gain, now tipping the scales at 296 pounds after enrolling in the 275-280-pound area. “He was always a guy that could gain weight,” Spencer said of Culpepper. “He knew when we recruited him that we were going to expect him to move inside, and he embraced it.”
- As for PJ Mustipher, Spencer said that the strength coaches were talking him up all summer. Specifically, “animal” was the term used. “When we went to practice yesterday, they weren’t wrong,” Spencer said.
LIMEGROVER: “THE BEST FIVE ARE GOING TO PLAY”
- While the general belief is that Penn State’s only true battle is between Chasz Wright and Will Fries for the right tackle spot, Coach Limegrover pointed out that there’s so much versatility on the line that guys can be switched around however to get the best five men on the field. “To be honest with you,” Limegrover said. “If I feel like Chasz Wright and Will Fries both are playing better than some of our inside guys, then Will Fries can go in a play guard.”
- Probably not for this year, but Desmond Holmes is a name I’d keep an eye on for the future. Limegrover mentioned Holmes had a great summer, and that he was “working behind Bates.” Does that mean Holmes would come in if Bates got injured? Probably not — expect Will Fries to make the jump over — but it sounds like things are starting to click for the redshirt freshman.
- Speaking of the bigger picture, Limegrover said that Rasheed Walker has impressed in the early going with his maturity. “He wants to play early, and I see that in how he’s approaching things,” Limegrover said of Walker. Of course, Limegrover also pointed out Walker’s “superior” athletic ability, and mentioned how guys around the program (including the strength and conditioning staff) have quickly taken notice of Walker.
- It was interesting to hear from Limegrover on how things have changed from a depth perspective along the offensive front since his first year in Happy Valley. They’ve gone from playing Connor McGovern before he was 100% ready to now being able to sit Juice Scruggs for a year or two, something that might not have been the case in years past.
- It was 84 degrees, I wore a long-sleeve button down (it’s called professionalism, look it up), and I am a noted sweater — not a good day for Pat’s perspiration. But hey, we live and we learn.
- On that same token, I was told by a source who will remain nameless that I was “best-dressed” among Penn State media members. This is an honor I will defend at next year’s Media Day, you can be sure of that.
- When I introduced myself to Coach Limegrover, I told him I was the “fullback guy on twitter.” Not going to lie, didn’t think I’d ever be introducing myself to a Penn State coach as that, but here we are.
- Talked with Sean Clifford about Penn State’s increasing recruiting presence in Ohio. He jokingly said how the DMV kids on the team talk a big game, but that Ohio has the better high school football players.
- I had a good talk with Tommy Stevens too. I think we’ll see his package evolve this season.