It was a long night following the game, asPenn State arrived back in Happy Valley early Sunday morning. The attitude of the squad was described as "deflated," and "frustrated." As one observer put it, "There were a lot of hung heads and blank stares; with the players and staffers."
Joe Paterno shared in the frustration and "just wanted to get the team back home and refocus." Paterno did address the team, saying that it was a tough loss, but that everyone had to learn and improve from the experience.
Back At It
Sunday the coaches took extended time to review the tape from Alabama. "There's frustration about the sloppy play, particularly with the 'backers and wideouts," one observer said. "They missed a lot of tackles and dropped a lot of passes, which killed some opportune moments."
The staff also focused on the rushing game with run-blocking and the running backs. There was also added review time on the secondary's play.
Monday had the squad back into film breakdown sessions and practice. The units reviewed extra film, "which is always painful, but how you improve." The players reviewed a series of missed opportunities by each unit. The offensive line spent time reviewing the blitz that got to Rob Bolden and resulted in an interception when he hurried a throw. "It was sloppy communication — poor read," one observer said.
Monday's afternoon practice had the players in tops in a light, fundamental session. "A lot of the guys were still recovering from a tough game, so the coaches took it easier (on them) to help them recover," another observer said.
Tuesday was "more intense," and "Joe was pushing the squad hard." Here are some notes from the early practices in preparation for Kent State this week:
- The consensus is that Johnnie Troutman is the best option at left guard. Although he and DeOn'Tae Pannell shared the role against Alabama, "the left side plays stronger with [Troutman] there." The coaches feel the attitude of the line boosted its pocket protection, but are preaching to carry that over on run-blocking.
- The receivers have worked added route, hand and coverage drills. "We had some damn good receivers drop some gimmes; Rob (Bolden) may have forced a few of those balls, but he got them there in most cases. They have to pull them in. They need to meet him 75 percent of the way there on passes. He's still learning, but they can make it easier on him."
- No doubt the loss of Gerald Hodges on the opening kickoff was "huge," but as one observer put it, "that's the game; there's enough [expletive] talent there to step in and carry the load. These guys played scared at times. And they're hearing about it. How proud are they? We'll see."
- Stephon Morris sustained a foot injury that he failed to tell the coaching staff about during the game. "He didn't want to come out. You gotta love that heart, but it's stupid — I think he knows it now." The injury was said not to be major, and Morris was back in drills on Tuesday.
- And Bolden's reaction to the loss? "He's talking veterans up." Bolden has been "telling guys to get better from it but shake it off, don't let it stay in their heads."
- There is talk of perspective among the players. "It sucks to lose any game," one observer explained. "But this was No. 1 on the road, and there's a ton of season left, and a lot they can still accomplish. So everyone needs to get over it and get back to work."