The team practiced at Tampa Jesuit High this week. The school has a small stadium but a very nice turf field. It is 12-15 minutes drive from the team hotel but very close to Raymond James Stadium.
For those who may be unaware, Penn State pulls out a series of colored jerseys for bowl preparations that are designed as follows:
First-Team Offense: powder blue
Second-Team Offense: green
First-Team Defense: navy blue
Second-Team Defense: red
Scout Team (O and D): White
Although the squad got a brief break for the holiday, getting Saturday and Sunday off from practice, the early practices this week were described as "intense," with the players getting more increased contact.
As one observer said, "They were really pushing guys all out; pushing hard on technique. Florida's a fast team, so they need to contain that speed (on defense)."
The team began to dial things down Thursday, with only shells and shorts. As the last practice of the season, players were allowed to wear whatever numbered jersey they wanted.
Here are some general practice notes from the week:
- The first team offensive line in the powder blue jerseys has been stable with the following lineup:
- Matt McGloin has continued as the first-team quarterback and has had his main first-team targets as Derek Moye, Graham Zug, Justin Brown, Brett Brackett and Devon Smith rotating with the first-team. Smith in particular has shown improvement with his feet. "He still outruns his legs at times, but he's getting better holding his center on runs. He's damn fast, but it's useless if he doesn't control it."
- As FOS reported previously Khairi Fortt was sidelined with an injury late last week. He did some drills Wednesday and when we talked to him later that day he said he expects to play Saturday.
The linebackers have seen a rotation of:
- The linebackers have been getting additional work on pursuits and angles. "It's great to have Mike [Mauti] back in the lineup. [Coach Ron Vanderlinden] is really stressing read-react skills and choosing that right angle to help contain the runs and passes on the wings."
- Evan Royster, Stephfon Green and Silas Redd have all seen first-team reps at tailback. Green and Redd have gotten additional reps as the practices have progressed. "Evan's a senior, he knows the deal. If they can [the coaches] like to get the younger guys a few extra carries." It is expected all three will see action against Florida, but that Royster will be the primary back "given that this is his final go-round."
- The secondary has not shifted much with D'Anton Lynn and Chaz Powell running first team corners and Drew Astorino and Malcolm Willis at safety. The unit has gotten in a fair share of nickel package work with Stephon Morris coming in at corner and Lynn moving to nickel.
- The defensive backs got extra reps on reading their assignments off the line and "managing their engagements" given that "Florida can be physical off the line."
Overall observers feel the team has had a good two weeks of practice. One side note on an injury; Anthony Fera has been in the red cross, but is expected to punt, but not handle kickoffs on Saturday. "He's not 100 percent, and it's impacted his power," however it souns like the coaches are going to give him a shot. Florida's main punt returnman Jenoris Jenkins is out, so receiver Chris Rainey is expected to assume the role. He has fielded eight punts this season.
The team wrapped up the Thursday session by huddling with final chant of "JoePa."
FightOnState.com is your source for the BEST content and community covering Penn State football.