Nittany Notebook: PSU Spring Practice Report

The Nittany Lions had their third practice of the spring Friday, with the first portion of the session spent working on unit drills and the second playing a scrimmage. Here are some notes Fight On State has acquired from practice observers about a variety of positions and players as the team wraps up the first week of spring.

Injury Report:

Fullback Matt Hahn sustained a concussion earlier in the week thanks to a hit in matchup drills described as "a good one." "Good," in this instance, meaning a very hard hit. He is expected to recover completely, but is sidelined for the time being, with no drill participation clearance. He was on the sideline Friday for the session in sweats and a red cross jersey.


Though we provided observations on all four quarterbacks in our last update, it will likely come as no surprise that most attention in practice has been focused on the two-horse race of Michael Robinson and Anthony Morelli.

The two helmsmen have their fair share of similarities and differences. First, the adjectives for the tossing arms on both players would describe a small militia, with words like "rifle," "cannon" and "rocket-launcher" being commonly used for each — so, choose your weapon.

Morelli was putting more "zip on the ball" yesterday according to several insiders, with faster, tighter balls. However, more than one individual commented on how Robinson "was not trying to throw as hard," as he is working on his touch and accuracy. Despite this, though, his passes were still quick and "effortless." The bottom line is both players have strong passing arms.

When you look at the strengths Robinson has over Morelli, he is faster, quicker and more agile on the run. He runs with more confidence and is "built to scramble" thanks to his legs, which are described as "stronger and more powerful." Morelli is not the runner Robinson is, which may or may not be a concern depending on how the offensive line progresses in the next few weeks.

On the other side, when you look at Morelli's strengths over Robinson, observers feel he has the "edge on passing." Morelli has a stronger arm, faster release and "tremendous velocity on his passses." He also has the advantage with accuracy and "touch" on his tosses, something he has focused on as an area of improvement over the past season.

Again, Robinson is strong, but he has shown the tendency to overthrow targets. One comment related to this was, "When [Derrick] Williams can't catch up to a pass, it's a little overthrown," describing a toss by Robinson in practice Friday.

Young Guns:

The comments on both Derrick Williams and Justin King continue to be positive all-around. Most observers maintain that King has the early edge given his strength, speed and intensity, but as one insider noted, "Remember, both guys have the tools, but receivers have to depend on the other guy [quarterback] to deliver the ball."

Both have seen time on return drills, with the sessions devoted primarily to bringing in the ball and focusing downfield. One comment shared on both players was, "If they have a shot [on returns], it could be an immediate, dramatic impact."

Williams has posed a challenge for many of the veteran defensive backs like Chris Harrell and even Alan Zemaitis at times, thanks to his speed and cuts. "He's able to pull in the rifleshots both Morelli and Robinson deliver." Given his speed though, the key with Williams is "all about timing and delivery of the ball." His speed opens up opportunities, but requires a solid passing game to exploit them.


Described as the the "backbone," "strength" and "pride" of the defense by various insiders, the linebacker staff is currently working with Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor and Tim Shaw as the first team, with Posluszny and Connor on the outside and Shaw in the middle.

There is some debate as to whether Connor stays on the outside, but most observers indicate they like him there. "He looks more comfortable outside," one observer commented. As for Posluszny, he "just keeps getting better and better." Individuals always couple their comments on his play with comments on his attitude. He's consistently described as "humble" and "genuine." Also, he is always listening to the staff and is described as a "sponge" when it comes to learning and improving. As one observer said, "What makes Paul special is not his just ability — lots of players have that — but the fact that he is never satisfied with where his game is."

The second-team linebackers as of Friday were Dontey Brown, J.R. Zwierzynski and Tyrell Sales, with Sales and Zwierzynski on the outside and Brown in the middle.

Lots of fans have asked about Spencer Ridenhour and where he is playinng. As of Friday he was with the linebackers running on the third team.

Defensive Line:

Friday's session was apparently missing some of the usual suspects. Though he has seen time on both sides of the ball, A.Q. Shipley was reportedly not at practice, presumably because he had class or a test at the time. Ed Johnson was also reportedly absent. Given these absences, yesterday's lineup had Lavon Chisley, Matt Rice and Tamba Hali playing the ends, and Jay Alford and Steve Roach at the tackle spots.

Again, Roach's substituion is believe to be "temporary." He had issues setting his feet and sitting low, but came off the snap quickly. He needs to focus on his technique and "the basics."

Offensive Line:

The line did not shift from what we reported on Wednesday's practice and was lined up Friday as:

LT: Levi Brown
LG: Charles Rush
C: Lance Antilock
RG: Robert Price
RT: John Wilson

Other Notes of Interest:

  • Jimmy Shaw saw his reps at tight end Friday.
  • Though Tim Shaw is at starting middle linebacker currently, he started Friday's session with Galen Hall, pulling in short route passes. The drill was just Tim catching balls with Galen working with him.
  • John Shaw saw his reps with the offensive line Friday.
  • Tyler Reed and Andrew Richardson were not in practice Friday. The Daily Collegian reported in Friday's edition that the school's Office of Judicial Affairs cleared both athletes from responsibility in a January bow-and-arrow incident on campus. It is not clear when PSU coach Joe Paterno will allow them back into practice.
  • Jim Kanuch saw his reps at wideout.

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