"The coaches are really pushing the pace and demanding discipline with every drill," one observer said.
"It's about relentless effort — don't give up and improve on every snap," another explained.
And how is that different from recent years?
One observer said, "Off-season under Joe [Paterno] was always a ramp-up. They would dial up the intensity with every practice.
"Here, the coaches are starting out at the pace [the team] used to probably end up. I am not sure if that will work better or not. You could have injuries or wear guys down ... or you could really boost them conditioning-wise."
Observers point out though that the staff has a significant amount of assessments to conduct over the 15-practice spring period, so taking a slower approach may not be an option. "They need to see what they have to work with and quickly build a two-deep," an observer said. "Fifteen practices is not a lot (of time) to do that, so they have to make it count."
Here are general news and notes from the Wednesday session:
• The practice saw a split of individual drills (position and fundamental) and scrimmage sets.
Jones turned some heads.
"His passes had a lot of zip," an observer said. "His deep balls were accurate and he was right on target. And he had some good spirals — real tight."
Bolden reportedly struggled on his deep balls, as several "fluttered."
• The offensive two deep saw the same general makeup:
Smith and Mangiro saw some added first-team work in the scrimmage plays. Urschel, Farrell and Smith have been mentioned as standouts in the early drills.
• Michael Mauti is limited this spring as a precautionary measure as he recover from an ACL injury.
As such, the linebackers have have seen a rotation of:
The staff is expected to review Fortt at both the inside and outside positions.
In related news, Hull had a hit on tailback Silas Redd that sparked a bit of a scuffle between the two. Hull, an outstanding wrestler in high school, got the better of it until teammates broke it up. It prompted new coach Bill O'Brien to remind everyone that Penn State is "ONE TEAM!"
• The secondary is of particular interest to the staff, as four starters have graduated. The early depth chart looks like this:
Curtis Drake is also in the mix at corner after moving over from wideout.
Given the depth concerns, and not surprisingly, the secondary is one of the "most pressing" focal points for position coach John Butler and staff. It seems the staff feels like they have a solid first-team unit with "spots of depth and holes throughout."
• Practice visitors of note included PSU basketball coach Pat Chambers, former Nittany Lion defensive tackle Anthony "Spice" Adams and Class of 2013 member Adam Breneman.
Friday and Saturday mark Penn State's annual Coaches Clinic led by O'Brien and staff. Saturday will include the team's first scrimmage of the spring.