How are Penn State's red-zone woes being addressed?
The offense has had "dedicated red-zone reps" this week with a major segment of the Tuesday afternoon practice being spent on red-zone work. "Rob Bolden threw some balls away (vs. Temple), but the staff has been on him to avoid turnovers. He's had almost the same amount of pass attempts in every game and has thrown five interceptions, but didn't throw any [against Temple]," according to one observer.
The focus on the red-zone work has been on "consistent blocking", "sharp routes" and "hard runs." Although the goal is to avoid turnovers, some feel Bolden has been "too quick to throw away balls."
What is the situation at right tackle with Lou Eliades out?
The staff gave Chima Okoli and De'Ontae Pannell looks at the position early this week. Okoli has seen tackle reps (on the right and left sides) since the spring and Pannell manned the position early last season.
At this point the consensus is that the staff will give Okoli the nod to start. There are concerns given the talent of Iowa's senior defensive ends. "They are on him to get up and out of the blocks quick to slow down the rush. Chima's strong, but he needs to be quick; the toughest part will be anticipating the assignment."
Okoli, a redshirt junior, played defensive tackle until moving to offense in the spring.
What are the feeling on the running game?
One thing that didn't sit well with some observers was Royster indirectly pointing to the offensive line for the early running woes by saying the success against Temple came about because the line was opening holes (which some have read to mean it did NOT open holes earlier). "Right or wrong, it's not how you handle it."
What are the feelings on the linebackers?
"[LBs coach Ron Vandelinden] liked seeing Nathan Stupar and Michael Mauti step up and play to their abilities. They know they came out flat (vs. Temple) and that was the big discussion at the half."
Observers think Khairi Fortt still has work to do on his reads and technique, but "he's got the speed and athleticism, and at this stage I think they are realizing that may be what they need," another observer said.
Where is Bolden mentally at this point?
Observers say he knows he has a lot to learn and he's been taking extra snaps, watching extra film and working with the receivers. However, the sentiment is that the clinching 96-yard drive against Temple was vital to his development. "It was a nice little confidence boost. He was getting frustrated with the red-zone misfirings and blunders, so it good to wrap it up on a high note."
Incidentally, the drive was the longest Penn State has had since 2003 against Indiana.
What is up with Shawney Kersey?
For those who may have missed it, Kersey was dealing with some personal issues which had him contemplating a transfer from Penn State. "The staff handled it pretty well and laid out the results of each decision and then gave him some space."
Kersey missed practice last week, "which is a big no-no with Joe." He is back in a green jersey (second team) this week, but "they are stressing that there's a commitment here and you can't just bail."
On the outside receiver positions, Derek Moye, Graham Zug and Justin Brown have continued to see the bulk of reps with Bolden. While Bolden and Moye were looking strong together early on, there's a lot of excitement with how Bolden and Brown are emerging. "'Justin's become a favorite of Rob, he's fast and creates a big, easy target to hit."
Back to Kersey, the staff recognizes his talent and feels he could make an impact on the team if he "buckles down and focuses." As one observer put it, "He could have a great career with Rob tossing to him, but he's got to get his head on straight."
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