With fan focus largely on the Penn State coaching search and the Sandusky scandal, the Nittany Lions' preparations for the TicketCity Bowl matchup with Houston have been lost in the shuffle. We shed some light on what's going on.

It's been "a year of questions" for the Penn State football players. As one program observer explained, "Between not knowing who the starting quarterback was to not knowing who the head coach will be, there's been a good amount of frustration [among the players]."

This week the players have been focused on their finals with no practices on the schedule until this Friday. The players have gotten lifts in, however.

There are a multitude of questions that ought to be asked about the team. Here are the latest answers:

What is the mood of the squad with the bowl game a few weeks away?

"The coaching search has a lot of [players] wondering what is going on. Most would like [Tom] Bradley to get the nod to move on, but they get that it's not as simple as that," one observer shared.

The consensus is that while most of the players would like to have details, a simple progress update would also be appreciated. "Everything's under lock and key," an observer said. "The frustration is that this is a big decision for the future of the program, but the (players are) out of the loop."

What has been the team's schedule recently?

The players had some basic practices last Friday and Saturday, where they went through individual drills and fundamentals (such as passing, blocking, tackling, reads). The coaches gave the players the bulk of this week off to focus on their finals.

Friday practice will begin again and will continue through Wednesday. The staff is taking a different approach this year as from other recent bowl preparation schedules; later next week the players will be allowed to head home to spend the Christmas holiday with their families.

In previous years, the team arrived at or near the bowl site before Christmas and spent the holiday there.

"It's been a rough run, I think it means a lot to everyone to take a breather and get some family time in," an observer said.

What is the travel plan for the team?

The players will get a few days off at home, including Christmas Day, and then use Dec. 26 as a travel day down to Dallas. Each player will travel on his own to Texas. They are allocated a certain amount of money to fly from their respective hometowns (or nearby airports).

A charter from University Park Airport will carry the coaches and support personnel to Texas the same day.

In terms of practices, the squad will have about seven sessions to use over six days while in Texas prior to the game on Jan. 2. The team is slated to practice on the new turf field at Roffino Stadium on the campus of Bishop Lynch High School.

Roffino Stadium

Has there been any talk of transfers among the players?

There have been no indication of widespread discussion about this. As one observer explained, "It's wait-and-see. No one is sure what will happen, so I don't think you're going to see any major decisions like that made until there are some answers."

How is the coaching staff?

Tom Bradley "continues to be great — he's upbeat, but sensitive to his players." As one observer said, "A lot of the coaches have been pretty low-key recently. They're focusing on the players and taking in film and working on game-planning."

As another explained, "I am not sure fans really appreciate how unique this staff is overall. There's just as much unknown for them and they have taken Tom's cue and have been focused on the players. Most coaches have no issue bolting for whatever is best for them. You don't see this sort of selflessness in college sports that often."

What is the latest on the coaching search front?

Penn State has continued to keep the search details among a very close group of individuals. "I am not even sure the entire (search) committee is aware of all the details," one observer explained.

"There are all sorts of names getting tossed around, but little in the way of actual verification," he added.

Stay tuned to for continuing coverage of Penn State football.


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