Penn State Football: Spring Brings Familiarity For First Time In Long Time
For the first time in Trevor Wiliams' career he has had the same position coach two years in a row.
So for the first time in Williams' career he isn't starting over from Square One.
Things are familiar, details are understood and expectations are easier to meet.
It may not seem like much, but while Ohio State is getting years and years deep into an offense and defense, Penn State players have been relearning everything. They've never been experts in their own systems.
But that's starting to change.
"I think just having another year in the system, the guys are just a lot more comfortable," Williams said on Wednesday. "Some of the guys have left on the defense, but it's still the same philosophies. Playing fast, playing smart. Coach Shoop, he has done a great job putting us in situations to better ourselves and really just be prepared at all times."
As a result Penn State as a program has an opportunity to make noticeable strides forward. Everyone from Christian Hackenberg to a senior like Williams can enjoy the comfort that comes with knowing your surroundings. Suddenly the goal isn't to learn the system, it's to master it, to understand it well enough that the team can get better as a whole.
Sometimes that comes from simply playing. Penn State's offensive line, for all of its issues, was better by the end of last year. The biggest change between the start and finish of the season? Simply the passage of time and the coaching that came with it.
That's why center Angelo Mangiro is confident that his unit can move forward from a solid finish to the 2014 season. It's the basic fact that he and his teammates have played together. An offensive line of inexperience has slowly laid the foundation for something much more substantial. It may not be a weapon for Penn State just yet, but it's slowly removing the title of "liability" from the resume.
"I think guys who are veterans now are making calls before even I make them," Mangiro says. "We have such a better understanding of our offense and we're facing Shoop's defense everyday in practice. ... I honestly think we progressed all season. I know that my stress level has been a lot lower this year than it was last year.
"We're able to focus on everything more and not worry about installs and what details I have to do. But we're able to focus on the details more as well, because we know the scheme. We know the little things, fine tuning them. Knowing where you're going and not having to worry about that and instead focus on your hat and hand placement."
"Coach Hand said the other day that we have the foundation to something, now we can work on the crown molding. Some of the new guys still have to build that foundation, but they're working hard and they'll catch up."
Maybe Penn State is still a few years from turning this foundation into a mansion, but it's a start in the right direction.
After years of relaying a different foundation each season, there is finally time to build.
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