NITTANY NOTES: Pressure Play

News and notes from Penn State's first extended scrimmage of the spring held on Monday. Which side of the ball held the upper hand when all was said and done?

Monday's extended scrimmage was described as the "most intense" practice of the spring period so far. Overall, though, the offense struggled as the defensive line was in "shut-down" mode.

Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin continue to split first-team reps with Bolden starting the scrimmage. The quarterbacks had limited time to run through their progressions thanks to a heavy pass rush. McGloin hit a number of intermediate passes to Derek Moye, Justin Brown and Shawney Kersey. He also had a handful of bat-downs but no interceptions on the day.

Bolden was "pretty inconsistent" due to the pressure and hit some check-downs, but he "short -armed and flat out forced some bad passes." Bolden was forced to use his feet and had some decent yardage pickups on the ground and managed to score "on a short-yardage breakdown." Neither was said to pass for any scores.

The starting secondary remained:

CB: Stephon Morris
S: Malcolm Willis
S: Drew Astorino
CB: Chaz Powell

Willis was still in for the injured Nick Sukay, who has dressed for practice but is in the cross and has been kept out of contact, recovering from that torn pectoral muscle. Starting corner D'Anton Lynn was out with back spasms again. The staff is taking it easy on Lynn since he has so much game experience and does not necessarily need the reps.

Derrick Thomas also got into limited first-team rotations for Morris. "The secondary had an pretty good day, but they should be buying the defensive line dinner given the pressure they had on the backfield." As one observer put it, "This was not a good test for the secondary since the O-line was on their heels and everything was a dink and dunk. The offense needs to get it together to see if Stephon is over the hump and if Malcolm is consistent [at safety] with his reads."

The primary make up of the defensive line was:

DE: DaQuan Jones
DT: Devon Still
DT: Jordan Hill
DE: Sean Stanley

Hill continued to receive praise at tackle, which has been fairly consistent all spring. "He's hard to handle by the interior (of the offensive line). He and Still really tore up the inside (of the line)." Many observers feel that the defensive line's performance, while impressive, was also a function of the issues on the offensive line's interior.

Jones and Stanley were in for Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore who are still limited in their participation. Latimore has been dressing but has seen no contact with his wrist injury while Crawford has been in a boot following his off-season surgery.

Matt Stankiewitch is "still getting comfortable" at center along with John Urschel at right guard. Here is the primary make up of the line which has basically remained:

LT: Quinn Barham
LG: Johnnie Troutman
C: Matt Stankiewitch
RG: John Urschel

RT: Chima Okoli

Despite some rave reviews out of the backfield for Silas Redd, Brandon Beachum and Curtis Dukes, "there wasn't a lot of running room," although Redd "made some things happen, hitting some corner runs for some "big pickups." Stephfon Green was sidelined for the scrimmage with a shoulder injury.

The larger backs (Beachum and Dukes) struggled inside, finding limited running room. Dukes "showed his frustration" at times during the session from the lack of lanes.

The linebackers are seen as a "strong point" of the defense. Observers really like the makeup of Khari Fortt and Gerald Hodges on the outside with Michael Mauti in the middle. Although there has been talk of potentially moving Mauti to the outside most feel that this trio is "just too strong and quick to break up." Nate Stupar is expected to be in the rotation, but observers really like the Fortt-Mauti-Hodges trio together.

The major concern and focus now is "getting the O-line together as a unit as quickly as possible." The tackles "were fine" during the scrimmage, "managing to hold off the edge-rush." The need is to get down the interior, which is "opposite of where things were this time last season."

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