Making the Grade

Penn State linebackers coach Brent Pry explains the program’s post-game evaluation system.

In addressing the play of his starters in Penn State's 26-24 season-opening win over UCF in Dublin last weekend, linebackers coach Brent Pry said all three men “graded out a winner.”

The Nittany Lions in question were mike 'backer Mike Hull, sam Nyeem Wartman and will Brandon Bell, who combined for 18 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

But according to Pry, judging a player's performance is not about just stats. On a conference call with reporters Thursday, the first-year PSU assistant gave insight into the staff's grading process. Here is what he had to say:

“Basically you grade each play. … We grade guys in a zero, one, two system.

“Zero being not good enough. Whatever happened on that play wasn't good enough, whether it was technique, whether it was effort, whether it was assignment.

“Or you grade out even. You did your job, but there wasn't anything exceptional.

“Or you grade out a plus, you grade out a two. Either you mastered a technique that we worked on that week and it led to you being successful on the play. Or you made a play -- maybe it was a hustle play, maybe it was an athletic play, maybe it was a really physical tackle.

“There's ways guys can be productive. There's ways guys can hurt your success as a unit. So we reward guys for the positive plays. We just kind of keep it neutral if they just kind of do their job, which we expect, but there's nothing spectacular. And if there's issues on the play, we're gonna find out why and we're gonna be downgraded there.

“Then you come up with a score that is an average of all those and you have a winning grade that you've kind of learned over the years that you feel is where it needs to be, and you plug it in.

“We're very forthright with our players here. Everybody is accountable. We address liabilities and concerns as a unit. I think that helps the guys mature and grow that way and understand that we're in this together, and we're gonna learn from each other's mistakes and learn from each other's positives.”

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