Notable Additions: Dan Connor, LB, Strath Haven High School (Wallingford, Pa.), 6-3, 220; Anthony Morelli, QB, Penn Hills High (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 6-4, 216.
Notable Subtractions: Rich Gardner, CB, graduated.
Notable Returnees: Jay Alford, DT, So., 6-3, 283; Levi Brown, T, So., 6-5, 315; Paul Jefferson, FB, Sr., 6-1, 258; Paul Posluszny, LB, So., 6-2, 230; Tyler Reed, G, Jr., 6-4, 302; Michael Robinson, QB, Jr., 6-2, 227; E.Z. Smith, C, Jr., 6-1, 275
|2004 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE|
Defensive Overview: The defense, which returns 14 players with at least one game of starting experience, is being conditioned for a more aggressive style of play this season. The defensive line proves to be the position with the most returning experience. Although junior Tamba Hali has moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, the Nittany Lions still have three other returning tackles with starting experience, namely Jay Alford, Ed Johnson and Scott Paxson. Senior OLB Derek Wake returns alongside sophomore Paul Posluszny, one of only four true freshman to see playing time last season, and redshirt sophomore Tim Shaw. Penn State, ranked third nationally last season in pass defense, returns five letterman in the secondary with starting experience. Anwar Phillips looks to replace departing cornerback Richard Gardner and should get tested often as opponents look to avoid outstanding junior cornerback Alan Zemaitis. Seniors Andy Guman and Chris Harrell, in addition to junior Calvin Lowry, will man the safety positions.
Special Teams Overview: Penn State special teams were abysmal last season, with the Nittany Lions finishing at the bottom of the Big 10 in kickoff returns, kickoff coverage, field goal percentage, PAT percentage and net punting. Kickoff specialist David Kimball will be missed. Sophomore punter Jeremy Kapinos was one of only a few bright spots last season. He returns as does senior place kicker Robbie Gould who will be entering his fourth season as the Lion's placekicker.
The Nittany Lions should return to their winning ways and earn a meaningful bowl bid this season if... the experienced offensive and defensive lines perform to their potential, the young running backs learn from last year's experience and make marked improvements, Zack Mills returns to his sophomore form and the young linebackers take it upon themselves to restore the tradition of Linebacker U.
|TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview|
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