NITTANY NOTES: Homeward Bound

Get the latest news and notes on the Penn State football squad heading into the holiday weekend. You'll never guess who stopped by.

Wednesday morning marked the final practice for the Penn State players before being dismissed for an extended holiday weekend. From Friday until Wednesday the Nittany Lions took in six practices after the conclusion of finals last week.

Overall the mood of the squad was described as "good." As one observer put it, "I think most everyone has shaken off the early disappointment (of falling in the Big Ten bowl pecking order). Guys are repping hard and getting in good work."

Here are some notes from the recent string of practice sessions:

• With starting QB Matt McGloin sidelined, Rob Bolden has taken the bulk of first-team reps. He's been described as "rusty" and "off and on" with his passes. The coaches have had him working a lot of route-reads and timing drills.

• There is confidence that McGloin will be eventually cleared to play. He apparently looked "OK" on the concussion tests he took this week, but the staff is expected to allow him to rest until at least the team gets back into practice on Dec. 27 in Dallas.

Paul Jones, said to be clear to participate in the bowl, continued to see scout team work this week. It's unclear if the staff plans to play Jones at this stage, but as one observer explained, "It really depends on where things shake out with Matt's health and Rob's play."

• The offensive line has seen a primary makeup of:

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

The line has had "some good practices" and has looked "consistent" in its 1v1 and 2v2 drills in particular.

• The defense has continued to get in additional nickel scheme work, which it is expected to use significantly against the Houston passing attack. In the nickel, Malcolm Willis comes in as an extra DB while linebacker Glenn Carson leaves the field. Willis also subbed Nick Sukay at free safety this week. Sukay missed time with what is described as a minor injury.

• TB Silas Redd has "looked sharp" and "continues to grow as a leader," which was noted by more than one observer. "He's always there, focused on improving himself and those around him."

Stephfon Green has seen a split in his first- and second-team reps, although given his senior status, most expect he will be included in the game plan against Houston.

• The linebackers have gotten some base 4-3 work in with Gerald Hodges and Nate Stupar on the outside (and Khairi Fortt substituting in) and Carson inside. Again, with the increased nickel work, Carson was pulled to get an added defensive back in the set.

• As a precaution the staff went easy on safety Sukay and fullback Joe Suhey during the week. Both seniors are said to "look fine," and are lobbying to get in. It's expected they will get back into contact once the team practices in Dallas.

• The coaches have held All-American DT Devon Still out of certain drills, which is not uncommon with a key player at this stage and to "get other guys additional first[-team] work." DaQuan Jones and Eric Latimore have taken many of those open reps. Still also has a bit of back pain.

• Wednesday's practice ended with a visit from Santa. He promptly ordered the coaching staff to call off gassers, much to the delight of all of the players.

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