Coach Ferentz: On The Side, PSU

Instant replay, Kyle Williams, the extent of the injuries to Calvin Davis and Marques Simmons, the running back situation, chop blocking, and the maturation of Derreck Robinson and Clinton Solomon are among the topics in this weekly feature.

Is Brownlee on scholarship yet?

No. Not yet. I don't think that you're allowed to do that during the year. (laughs) Plus you have to have one available.

You don't have one available?

When guys get hurt, they still get their scholarships.

You don't bank them?

I think we spent all of our money at the bank back in August. (laughs)

Is that when you give those out?

Typically in August is when we reward guys.


Pedigree wise, you're skill players wouldn't blow anybody's hair back?

We don't have Braylon Edwards on our team. That's OK though. None of us are embarrassed to put our guys out there.

You really don't have cookie cutter guys. Is that almost good in a way because they're hungry?

Usually our cookie cutter guys get here by accident. Greenway, they'd let him in the doors at a lot of places. But they wouldn't have four years ago. Gallery was the same way. Most people would have been happy to have him, but they weren't so happy when he came out of high school.

Is it that chip on the shoulder mentality that drives a lot of these guys?

Yeah. That's fair to say. They've got pride. They want to show people they can perform.

Is Clinton further along than you thought that he might be?

I don't know if I had a preconceived notion of where he would be at any given time. But he's at the top of the list as far as growth and development. I'm just really pleased with his attitude; the way that he's practicing. And that's showing up on the game films.

When players realize just how important practice is and the tempo, how that transfers to performance, usually it's a real positive thing, especially if they have a little talent. Clinton is really starting to understand what it takes to compete at this level.

In hindsight, was that year away good for him?

I think so. I think he needed it. If we could have redshirted him that year, that would have been even better. As I said before, players all grow at different rates and different experiences make people grow in positive ways or negative ways sometimes. He's really using this as a positive, not only as a player but as a peer of his teammates. He's really been a great role model for our guys.


I know the MRI is today (on Marques Simmons), but is there a chance that he might not get back this year?

We only have five weeks left, and four and a half (weeks) realistically. I'm no doctor, so this is just me talking, but I always worry with any significant ankle injury even if there's no fracture or tendons or any of that stuff. It's just, running backs it's hard.

We always try to error on the side of bringing a guy back later rather than sooner. We'll take it a week at a time, a day at a time, but it's a concern. Right now, I'm not counting on it. If we get him back, that's a bonus.

So are you going to ditch running the ball at home now?

I was talking with my brother about that. He gave me the equation. He said at the rate we're going right now, all we have to do is figure out who's going to be the running back in the second half of the last home game. (laughs) That gives us four weeks to figure something out.

How are you practicing with your running backs right now? When was the last time they were even tackled?

Since we left camp. We just don't tackle in the season. We do tackling circuits, but our backs aren't involved in that. I've never believed in that.

Has anybody volunteered to be a running back?

Not Necessarily. A couple of weeks ago, I thought about Greenway. That was only in my head. He kind of looks like (John) Riggins, don't you think. Hopefully he doesn't act like him off of the field. That's not good for a college student.

If we had three or four Greenway's on hand, we'd throw one of them in there. But we can't afford to lose him, obviously. There's really not an obvious choice or a logical choice at this point.


What is the extent of Calvin's injury?

It's a patella repair. He's has a patella tendon problem. We were hoping that we maybe could nurse him through the season, but it just hasn't reacted the way we were hoping we'd see. Instead of fooling around with it, it's going to be repaired. If we're forunate enough to be in a bowl game, he won't be ready for that. But he should be full speed when we get going in January.


Derreck Robinson had a great game Saturday. How have you seen him develop?

All of us have been very pleased with Derreck ever since the start of preseason practice. You see this with guys all of a sudden going into their senior years they just find that next gear. Derreck is a great illustration of that.

Has he matured quite a bit since his off of the field problems?

One hundred percent. And let me say this, Derreck was never a "bad guy." Derreck has always been a pleasure to be around. He's made some dumb decisions. He would tell you that.

It's like anything in life, if you do something dumb, do you learn from it and move forward or to you keep acting dumb? If you do, you usually get the same result. He learned from his mistakes and that's what this thing is all about.


Can you talk about chop blocks?

I didn't see the one in question. I heard about it. But I didn't see it.

They're a part of the game, but there's also a certain edicate to them. I'm not being judgemental here because I didn't see that play. I want to go on record saying that.

I've seen some in the past that I'd say that are just not kosher. Then there are others I've seen that are part of the game. It's a tough play to officiate.

Is it a technique? I don't recall you teaching it.

When plays are going away from you, we always tell our guys to cut defensive linemen. It's not a clip, if you will.

The only time it would be clipping is if a defensive (lineman) grabs an offensive (lineman) and turns his body. To me, if a guy does that, he's vulnerable, by rule, to that.

I've also seen some people that coach it in a way that to me it's not acceptable. But I'm not suggesting that this is the case. I didn't see the play.


One of your former recruits (Kyle Williams) is now going to Purdue.

I heard about that, yeah. (laughs)

Two former Illinois recruits are now at Purdue. Is there something up there?

I have no idea. I think it's the sign of the times. Back in February when we've been victimized by this, guys change thir minds.

Tarez McCray (Miami), we thought that we had a great chance of landing him, and he chose to stay closer to home. Ohio State has a young man (Marcel Frost) on their team that we thought that we had a pretty good shot at signing.

Those things happen. Until a guy puts his name on a piece of paper, it's fair game anyway. It doesn't bother me.

Do you guys re-evaluate in cases like this?

We're always evaluating everything. That's what you do. I'm not suggesting...those things happen. That's part of recruiting. That's part of the game.


What's your midseason grade on instant replay? There was a five-minute delay for two yards?

That play should be reviewed. But overall, it's a positive thing, outside of that first weekend. It's been pretty smooth. I can't speak for anybody else, but I'm still really in favor of it.

Did you take that timeout on the Hinkel fumble to get some more time to review?

No. Not really. I just wanted to feel better. That's all. It made me feel better. It was a selfish timeout in the first half. I would never do that in the second half. But at least I felt better.

Do you think that coaches should have a right to call for a review?

I haven't given it any thought because right now it's not even a discussion item for us. I'm sure it will be the next time we get together in January.

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