NITTANY NOTES: Focus on Temple

With an improved Owl squad looming, Penn State must put the Alabama loss in the rear-view mirror as soon as possible.

After Penn State lost to Alabama Saturday, the Nittany Lions wasted no time refocusing.

Coaches spent a good part of Sunday breaking down film of this week's opponent — Temple. But that is par for the course. A positive sign is that players also began looking at tape Sunday.

"It's completely disappointing," an observer said of the 26-11 loss to the Tide. "But I was glad to see some guys smacking those around them, telling them they have to shake it off and get back at it."

And who were the players who assumed that role of refocusing the squad?

"There are a few, but I really like how Devon Still and Silas Redd have approached things," an observer said. "You expect it from Devon; I mean he's a senior, a captain. He's been around a lot and was put in this position. Silas wasn't, he could just sit back. But he's a unique one."

As for the mood of the the team, it "has generally shaken off the loss. I don't think they are pouting over it, but they've genuinely tried to learn from it."

However, there is some lingering frustration around the desire to select a quarterback. More on that later.

Monday and Tuesday the squad was back on the field, here are some notes and news items on the sessions:

  • First-team quarterback reps have been split again between Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin, but observers feel that the balance of the snaps have favored Bolden at this point. "The staff has gotten him more work on roll outs and bigger sets."

  • The belief is that Bolden will get the starting nod again. As for Joe Paterno's comment that the race is still a "toss up," most don't think he actually believes that. As one observer said, "I think he's intending to preserve the morale of everyone. But at some point, and probably soon, it's going to end up hurting morale." As another explained, "The offense is anxious to just get a starter and build around him."

  • There are staffers who are encouraging a starting quarterback decision, but "who knows where it ends up."

  • The offensive line has illustrated that it can pass block and run block in the last two games, "although not concurrently," as one observer put it. However the unit has seen work on both areas this week. This week the starting line has maintained a starting line-up of Quinn Barham (LT), Johnnie Troutman (LG), Matt Stankiewitch (C), John Urschel (RG), Chima Okoli (RT). DeOn'tae Pannell is still seeing limited first team right guard work, but the sentiment remains that Urschel has shored up the position, even if Pannell has gotten the starting nod in the first two games.

  • The backfield has seen a balance of starting reps between Redd and Brandon Beachum at tailback, and Joe Suhey and Michael Zordich at fullback. It sounds like the coaches realize they "put a lot on Silas" in the Alabama game. "They see him as a rare weapon, but you can't drive him into the ground." All four backs have had "strong showings" in practice and are "gelling" as a unit.

  • The defensive front seven have focused on a variety drills — pass rush, fumble recovery, run containment and more. However, the unit has put in extra time on ball-stripping work. "The talk is still on gang-tackling, given Temple's strong run game and turnovers." Position coach Larry Johnson has maintained the same rotation, but has gotten Sean Stanley added work at end this week.

  • The focus of the secondary has been "staying in your saddle" on plays. The starting unit has remained D'Anton Lynn (CB), Nick Sukay (S), Drew Astorino (S) and Chaz Powell(CB), but Stephon Morris has each "seen some additional work with the ones this week." The squad watched film with a point of keying on the plays where "they missed the interception and gave up a big play." The other area that the unit spent a lot of time on was "pulling up on plays." As one observer said, "There were a handful of player where guys just quit on their follow-throughs. That's totally unacceptable and frankly insulting to the team."

  • For those wondering, senior running back Stephfon Green remains out of drills. "He had some issues he was working through and the staff felt good about the direction, but this new issue (furnishing alcohol to a minor) hit (Paterno) in the gut." The sentiment is that Green has the ability to make it back onto the squad, but some are skeptical he'll ever take a meaningful snap again, given the way the unit has developed.

  • The receivers "had a flat out bad day" against Alabama and "they heard about it." However, the lineup has not changed much. Derek Moye and Justin Brown remain the main wideouts. Shawney Kersey has "started to get more attention." Curtis Drake has seen some additional work as well. "They want to get him in 9to the action) but they're hesitant to go full-bore." Drake has been lobbying heavily to get into the full rotation. "He's ready. He looks great and says he feels good."

  • Both the wideouts and running backs have been working on the other end of strip drills under the guise that they lost two fumbles last week and had some "other situations where they just aren't protecting the ball."

Generally, the squad got added work in on third-down situations "to improve the 37 percent conversion rate," red-zone sets, and short and goal-line situations.

Overall, the fact Penn State is heading to Philadelphia is viewed as a good thing. "Playing in the (Lincoln Financial Field) adds some excitement and hopefully gives them a spark to avoid coming out flat."

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