Get an update from the practice field as Penn State prepares for this week's action in Beaver Stadium. We touch on the mood of the team, key injuries and some young players making moves.
The structure of this week's practice schedule hasn't seen a lot of changes other than the squad didn't take in as much film on Monday as usual. The players did watch Purdue
film on Tuesday and units spent added time breaking down some film from the Iowa
The major buzz around the program was Penn State's "unleashing" of the defense with the blitz against the Hawkeyes. In case you missed it, Tom Bradley and several players — including Gerald Hodges and Nate Stupar — talked about this topic with FOS after the game. This was a surprise to the players. "No, it wasn't planned and everyone expected the same typical plan," one observer said. "When the coaches made the call [for more pressure from the blitz] some guys didn't believe it."
As the game progressed there was a lot of excitement across the defense. "It was awesome for everyone to see what this defense can do," one observer said. "It was a lot of fun."
However, not many are expecting that tactic to continue against the Boilermakers. "No, not against Purdue. I hope later on, though," an observer said.
The mood of the squad has been up and down. The players "haven't dwelled on it with the 24-hour rule, but really got a boost from this win," an observer said. However, there is still frustration on the team.
"It's the same thing; pick a quarterback already," as one observer put it.
The growing sentiment is that Matt McGloin should be the starter.
As one oberserver said, "There's no race at this point and I think you're doing a disservice to everyone including Rob (Bolden). Do you think just putting him out there to struggle is doing him any good? It's like token reps."
As we reported last week, though the captains, veterans and staff are pushing to "minimize a divide on the topic." However, "everyone has an opinion — the season's half over."
Here are some notes from the practice sessions this week:
Not surprisingly, Bolden and McGloin continue to split first-team snaps this week and the belief is that Bolden will once again get the starting nod against Purdue.
This has created some "visible frustration" with McGloin. "I am not going to get into specifics; it's nothing that's really a big deal. But he has to be wondering why he's not at least given the shot to start," an observer said. "I think he's earned that, but he's ultimately going to do what's asked of him."
McGloin put in time watching the end zone interception that he threw vs. Iowa. "He wants to learn from it, wants to get better. He knows he missed there."
The staff has Bolden continuing to work on his reads and progression. "It's a lot of basics," one observer said. "It wasn't clicking on those passes [vs. Iowa], but in fairness, Matt had a game like that [against Alabama]."
The coaches were pleased with the offensive line's progress, particularly with its run blocking. However, "They still need to improve on sealing the lane."
John Urschel and Matt Stankiewich both were praised for their play along with the general cohesiveness of the line. "The entire line still has work to do and they know it."
Curtis Dukes has gotten added first-team reps this week. "(Silas) Redd's the main guy, but Dukes has found the handle and is becoming a big weapon. This running game could become dangerous quick," as one observer shared.
"Silas deserves a lot of credit. You know he lost a family member [last week] and he channeled it and ran hard for her." Redd is regularly praised for his "maturity," but last week "even more so, since he was dealing with a ton of adversity and used it to his benefit."
Brandon Beachum is seeing reps and the feeling is that "he looks ready." The question is
whether there enough balls to go around. "The backfield's getting crowded." The same goes for Stephfon Green although "there's a lot of catching up with games running out."
D'Anton Lynn has been back in practice in the green cross and the staff is "easing him back in." Some feel he will be cleared for Purdue, but "[Adrian] Amos has looked really good out there, huh?" Lynn is very anxious to get back on the field and has been "pushing the staffers hard."
The linebackers have maintained the same lineup of Gerald Hodges (Fritz/Weak), Glenn Carson (Backer/Middle), Nate Stupar (Sam/Strong). Hodges and Stupar have been urging the defensive staff to "send them" and "dial it up," referring to the blitzing pressure against Iowa, but again it's not widely expected this weekend.
Top receiver Derek Moye injured a foot while tripping down stairs Tuesday evening. Many within the program did not learn of the injury until Moye was unable to practice Wednesday. The buzz within the program is that he'll be out from 2-4 weeks.
Iowa was said to be a "defining game" for this squad and "the win revealed something about the team." The coaches and veterans have been "preaching that every game is stepping stone and they can take nothing for granted. I think there's growing buy-in to that."