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April 18, 2012Is this the year that Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson emerges as a bigtime force?
After a greyshirt season, and last year starting at inside linebacker, the junior is hoping to transform himself into the type of upperclassman linebacker that he's looked up to in recent years.
Reporters caught up with Carson Wednesday afternoon for a 15 minute teleconference, transcribed below:
What was your reaction to Ron Vanderlinden staying on staff? What kind of impact has he had on you?
Carson: I was really happy that they were going to keep Coach Vanderlinden on staff. I think he's a great football coach. I think he really knows fundamentals well and he knows the game well. And obviously, the long history with the great players that he has coached, it's no coincidence he can really coach up linebackers well and make them really elite.
How has the playcalling changed, if at all, under the new staff?
Carson: Coach Roof, he has a really fun defense to play on. He likes to take a little bit more risks. I think we're going to blitz a lot more this season and it's a really fun defense to play on.
In what ways is it any easier this spring having Vanderlinden back?
Carson: Having the same position coach has made it a much easier transition for the linebackers. Just having him there, kind of having that old face and his techniques are all the same. We're still continuing to practice sure tackles and basically all of the fundamental things that I really, really believed in, are still there, which is really important to me.
Last year, you went to the sideline in the nickel package. Do you get the sense that it will be similar this year? Have you put it in yet?
Carson: We have not yet put in the nickel package, although I'm sure it's going to come in. But, pass defense has been one of the things that I needed to work on and I think I'm getting a lot better at it, so hopefully I can show that I can stay on the field and we don't have to do as much nickel. But, like I said, nickel is not in yet, so I don't really know too much about it.
How do you think things will change, if at all, when you add Mike Mauti to the mix in preseason camp?
Carson: Mike Mauti is just a great leader and he just has that great field presence and he's the kind of guy you want to be on the field with. So, I'm excited to have him back and I'm looking forward to playing with him.
How profound has the change been going from the old staff to the new staff?
Carson: I think the team has adjusted really well to the new coaching staff. I think we've bought in to all the new coaches and really trust in them already. We're really intent to everything they have to say and we're taking in all the advice they have to give us. So, the adjustment went really smoothly and I think that these coaches are a good fit for the type of players we have here.
Who is backing you up right now? How close is that competition?
Carson: Right now, behind me is Mike Yancich. He's a really good player and he's really coming along and we see really good things from him on the field. I think we have a lot of good linebackers, such as Mike Hull, Jamie Van Fleet, and obviously Khairi Fortt and Mike Mauti, who are currently injured right now.
How hard do you think it will be to get back on the same page with Mike Mauti when he comes back in the fall?
Carson: Well, he hasn't really missed a beat besides the fact that he can't physically be on the field. But, he's been in every meeting, he's learning the defense along with us and he's on the sidelines calling the plays, being very attentive to what's going on. So, it shouldn't be that hard of a transition for him. He's basically doing everything that we're doing except physically being on the field.
The secondary has had its share of injuries this spring. How have they looked the past week or so?
Carson: I think that we have some really good guys that are coming through the mix in the secondary. I think Jake Fagnano had a really good spring. He's had a turnover almost every day in practice. I think he's doing really well. We had Adrian Amos just come back into the mix and he looks impressive already. He had some playing time last year and I think he impressed a lot of people. Malcolm Willis, he isn't really a new face but I think he's a really good player out there and I think he'll be a solid player for us.
Is it the middle linebacker's job to call plays? How is that working?
Carson: It's going pretty well. I mean, I've always been pretty good, even last year, getting the play calls in. I think I'm picking up the defense really well and I think I know it good and I have a really good sense of what's going on on the field, not just at my position but pretty much all the positions. I really understand the concepts of the new defense and what's going on.
Does that make it more complicated for you than everyone else because you have to have a good feel for what everyone else has to do?
Carson: It might be harder at first but in the long run I think it helps you as a player, not just knowing what you're supposed to do but actually knowing the concepts of the defense and how it works. In the long run, it actually helps you as a player.
How has Vanderlinden's philosophy and method meshed with Coach Roof's? Has it been a seamless transition?
Carson: I think it's been a really good transition. I think that Vanderlinden and Roof, the combination of those guys is a really good one. I think that they're going to work together really well and I think it's going to be a really good mesh.
It sounds like the offense is trying to get guys the ball in space more and the defense is trying to be more aggressive. What's it been like when those two have gone against each other?
Carson: Absolutely, I think the offense verse defense has been competitive this spring. There have been a lot of big plays on both sides of the ball which seems very exciting. I think it's been a very exciting spring and we're seeing big things happen on both sides of the ball, which is really exciting. It's honestly just been a really exciting spring and big plays are happening on both sides. It's really exciting to see, but those big plays just have to become a more consistent thing and we have a long way to go to be more consistent and just make sure that those big plays happen more often.
Are there any specific things you want to do personally this season? All-Big Ten?
Carson: I'm just really trying to work on going from a solid, reliable player to a player that is going to make bigger plays and is going to make bigger things happen this year. I'm just trying to make that jump from being the sophomore last year to being a more upperclassman this year and making things happen a lot more this season and stepping up and making bigger plays.
Is there anything specific you've been doing to improve your pass defense?
Carson: It's just little fundamental things that you've gotta work on, like your pass drops kind of evening out and also not making false steps. False steps will definitely hurt you, and if I will be able to read offenses better, then it will naturally make me a faster player and it will make me a more efficient player as I'm playing. So, I'm basically just working on slowing down a little bit, relaxing and just working on my pass drops and little fundamental things, really small things that in the long run are going to make me a better player.
Is there anybody on offense that has surprised you? Obviously there are some guys like Silas Redd that have played a lot of ball, but are there any guys that have jumped out that fans may not know about?
Carson: I think that on the offensive line, we're looking better than imagined and I think we're going to be pretty solid on offense. The offensive line is looking better than expected. There's a lot of new faces there right now and I think that we're going to surprise a lot of people at that position.
Have you had to cover more of the tight end this spring than you used to?
Carson: Yeah, absolutely. This offense has a lot of scheme to it. There's a lot going on. Playing against a good offense like this is going to help me against all other kinds of teams covering tight ends and covering running backs and things like that. And, I'm covering good players like Silas and Bill Belton, and that's what's really going to help me become a better player.
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