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Penn State Football: Shoop Brings Analytical Mind To Defensive Coordinator Position

by on January 25, 2014 10:00 AM

In just four seasons, Penn State football has seen four different defensive coordinators walk the hallways of the Lasch Football Building. It's a fact that new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop is all too aware of, and something he plans on changing by bringing back stability to the position and bringing back the type of defense Penn State fans have come to expect over the decades.

"A mentor of mine once said a philosophy is who you think you are, an identity is who others see you as," Shoop recalled on Friday. "Make no mistake, when we came here‑‑ at the end of the day there are a lot of good defenses, but at the end of the day there is only one championship defense, and we came here to build a Big Ten Championship and National Championship caliber defense. That is the only thing we know."

Those might be big words to spout off in your first public appearance on the job, but while head coach James Franklin has had little time to look over film of his current team while on the recruiting trail, Shoop has hit the video stacks late into the night. A self-diagnosed film junkie, it's the analytical side of football that gets Shoop going. The days started early in the film room and ended late in the film room are the best in his eyes.

While the past three defensive coordinators have coached from the field, Shoop plans on coaching from the press box this season. There are those who say that you practice how you want to perform, and after hours and hours spent watching film from a certain angle, Shoop can't imagine watching the game any other way.

"I hate being on the field," Shoop said as he began to laugh. "You can write this. I want to stay as far away from James Franklin as I can on Saturday. I prefer to be in the box because I'm more of an analytical guy. We complement each other well on the defensive staff. I'm analytical, Sean Spence (defensive line coach) and Brent Pry (Co-defensive coordinator) is the old school guy who keeps me in check."

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"I'll have 75-blitzes drawn up on Monday night and he'll tell me maybe we can just do a couple of those. I prefer to watch from the box because that's how I watch the film so I have the same view on game day as I do watching film and I have my notes in front of me and I feel much more comfortable in the sterile environment of the box than on the field."

Despite the stark contrasts between the personality of the head coaches, if any coach could have fit on Bill O'Brien's staff Shoop seems to fit that mold. A football thinker that enjoys the challenges of the game. A chess match between the offense and defense and he has the best seat in the house and his hand on the controls. There is a tangible excitement Shoop gets as he explains what is essentially his love for football, the most basic reason that anyone gets involved in any sport. They just like it.

"I think being a defensive coordinator in college football today may be the most difficult job in all of sports. Because I think the offense, the high tempo, the speed, having to face Ohio State as a spread and then Wisconsin lining it up and ramming it down your throat. I enjoy the competitive nature of matching wits against that other team's offensive coordinator."

"I love watching film, I love being prepared. Anybody who knows me knows that I'll watch as much film as anyone anywhere and I don't ever want to be caught off guard. Preparation is one of the keys to a successful defense and you can't get everything across to a player in a work week, but I can know, so if something comes up over the course of the game there isn't a whole lot we can't make an adjustment to."

Much like his fellow assistants, Shoop has been on the road, only coming back to State College on Friday for the first time in over a week. But that doesn't mean he isn't hard at work getting to know his team and getting to know his players on the defensive side of the ball.

"I'm the guy who is up at 4 in the morning at the Penn Stater or the hotel or up until midnight and I'll throw on a bunch of game tapes and for example I really like the way Jordan Lucas plays so I'll text him "Hey I really like the way you play" or something like that."

Things will settle down once Signing Day has passed in mid Februrary, but until then Shoop plans on doing the best he can to get to know his players and to get to know what they're all about heading into spring practice.

"That's why I've been talking to Adrian (Amos) and Jordan (Lucas) and (Mike) Hull," Shoop said. "To tell them to give us a chance, that we're going to work our butts off everyday to earn their trust and earn their respect."

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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