News and notes from the practice field as Penn State braces for the No. 3 Crimson Tide. Get the lowdown on the mood of the team and more.

With the ho-hum win vs. overmatched Indiana State out of the way, Penn State, Penn State has spent this week zeroing in on the team that has been the focus since the spring — third-ranked Alabama. The Crimson Tide visit Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Here are some general notes as PSU prepares for Alabama this week:

  • The coaches do not seem prepared to make the call on a full-time quarterback as of yet, having Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin share first team work this week. "Matt graded out better in the (ISU) game, but also made some bad calls that would have been disastrous against a decent defense," one observer explained. As for Bolden, another observer said, "He has some dropped balls there, but he has to see the field. The line has to give him space to work, but he has to see those breakdowns and react."

  • As of Tuesday the word was that both quarterbacks were expected to play against the Crimson Tide. The coaches had not decided on the starter. The coaches have generally kept the same structure in practice typically giving Bolden the first rep set with the first team. Does that mean Bolden will start Saturday? Head coach Joe Paterno and QBs coach Jay Paterno have been quiet on that front so far, even to those within the program.

  • The offensive line "opened up holes" with its run blocking vs. ISU, but was "weak on pass protection." Some feel that Silas Redd and Brandon Beachum "really helped to make the line look good," while others point to "simple missed assignments" as the main culprit to the line's struggles.

  • The first-team offensive line continues to be:

    LT: Quinn Barham
    LG: Johnnie Troutman
    C: Matt Stankiewitch
    RG: DeOn'tae Pannell/John Urschel
    RT: Chima Okoli

    Some feel that they are "playing some games" with the right guard position. "Dee has just struggled while John's been pretty dependable," an observer said. "I think they are going to give [Pannell] another shot, but there's not a lot of wiggle room here in this game." Urchel appears to be the primary backup at both guard spots. He can also play center.

  • Sean Stanley grabbed the starting left defensive end position over Eric Latimore. "Eric will be in the rotation, but Sean got it," an observer said. "[He has] great technique and some real heart."

  • The sentiment about DTs Devon Still and Jordan Hill is that they "could become an outstanding duo" inside for the defensive line. "They work so well together and are tight; they have a lot of trust, which is so key." Many point to these two being a major factor as PSU attempts to stuff Alabama's power running game.

  • TE Andrew Szczerba was suited up earlier this week, but has been in the cross after suffering from concussion-like symptoms in the ISU game. His probability of seeing action will be determined as the week progresses. Kevin Haplea is seeing first-team reps while Szczerba is out.

  • As we reported earlier, Evan Lewis was dealing with a hip flexor issue leading up to the ISU game. He aggravated it on the missed extra point and had to ice it on the bench. There is a lot of confusion as to why the staff pressed him to play given the issue, but it seems like freshman Sam Ficken will likely get looked to take over the duties against Alabama.

  • Anthony Fera has been back in action, although "he's been shaking off some rust." He's looked good on kickoffs and has gotten in extra work on punts this week. Some around the program are admittedly surprised Joe Paterno "gave the nod for Fera to return," while one observer said, "sitting out of [the Alabama game] was never a given, it was based on Anthony."

  • TB Stephfon Green is seeing back-up reps this week with the offense. He did not play in the opener after being charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor during the summer. Although there "was more to that situation," according to one observer, Green has "got has shown the staff what they've wanted to see."

The overall mood of the squad has been described as "excite," "intense," and "ready." As one observer said, "The team has not shied away from the talk that they were embarrassed last year. We'll see how they play. Admitting that is not easy, but a big step in the team's progress."

The focus this week has been on "flawless execution" and specifically on "gang tackling." "There's no doubt 'Bama is a great team and this squad has to play a great game to get where they want to be," ne observer explained.

In terms of leadership, guys mentioned who have really stepped up this week include Michael Mauti as "a fierce motivator," Devon Still "who has been preaching execution across the defense" and Redd as "a guy who has been talking up everyone." Redd in particular is "getting comfortable in that lead role on and off the field." is your source for the BEST content and community covering Penn State football.


Fight On State Top Stories