NITTANY NOTES: Southern Exposure

Get a report on the early practices from Clearwater as the Penn State football team continues its preparations for Florida in the Outback Bowl.

The Penn State players each made their own way to Florida this weekend between Friday and Saturday; some by car, but most by plane. The team assembled in Clearwater Beach at the Hilton over the weekend and got into their initial drills on Sunday and Monday.

The team's practices have taken place at the Philadelphia Phillies' Clearwater practice facility on the Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton fields. "Pretty light and easy today," one observer said. "[The coaches] are just getting [the players] some reps and basic work since they have been off for finals."

The Lions had single session Sunday and Monday and are slated to have their first double session Tuesday. The morning practice starts at 10 a.m.

Here are some notes from the initial sessions:

  • As expected Matt McGloin took the bulk of first-team drill snaps. Rob Bolden also took in limited first-team work, but was primarily working with the second-team unit. The quarterbacks worked snaps and got some passing drills in with some Drill 6.

  • As an aside, sophomore quarterback Kevin Newsome has not made the trip to Florida with the squad, which only adds fuel to the speculation that a transfer is likely.

  • Receivers Derek Moye, Justin Brown, Brett Brackett and Devon Smith "got a lot of work receiving" to help "McGloin shake off any rust." Moye and Brown particularly "looked sharp" with the routes in early work.

  • Although there is word that a few Florida players like running back Jeff Demps and cornerback Janoris Jenkins may be sidelined for the bowl, Penn State is not assuming anything. "No, we're preparing as if they are at full strength," an observer explained. As an aside, Evan Lewis is playing Demps and Jesse Della Valle is playing Jenkins on PSU's scout team.

  • Redshirt sophomore tight end Mark Wedderburn also did not make the trip to Florida. We suspect this may be academic in nature.

The PSU coaches are using their typical crescendo approach to bowl practices. With this they start out with light, basic work and increase the intensity and complexity of the work with each session. The goal of this approach is to get the guys back into game form from the long layoff between the regular season finale against Michigan State and the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

Observers typically point to the long period of time before the bowls as something that the coaches have to effectively manage. As one observer explained previously of the approach, "The coaches work hard to manage the excitement and energy to channel it and get it to peak at the right time. It can be a challenge, but they do a pretty consistent job with bowl preparations."

On a side note, both defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden interviewed in person Friday for the head coaching vacancy left by former Penn Stater Al Golden at Temple. It should be interesting to see what comes out of the situation.

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