Practice Notes From Friday

Friday was day one of Penn State's annual Coaches' Clinic, which invites high school coaches to Happy Valley to talk some football, learn from the Nittany Lion coaching staff and see the Penn State players in action.

Day one opened with the attendees receiving a PSU roster. Some interesting notes from that roster are that neither E.Z. Smith nor Scott Paxson were listed on the roster. However, both Tyler Reed and Andy Richardson were listed.

Offensive Notes

Receivers coach Mike McQueary addressed the attendees first, focusing on the wide receiver unit, but also addressing the quarterbacks. He reviewed film of practice early in the week. He said Anthony Morelli was having issues with his reads and needs to scan the field more.

He also commented on Derrick Williams. Williams has had some issues with his route running, but is extrememly fast. Williams ran a 4.44-second 40- yard dash after his surgery this winter, though McQueary stated true freshman is even faster than that.

Mark Rubin runs about a 4.75-second 40 according to the coach. He is Penn State's most experienced receiver, seeing action in 350 plays last season as a true freshman.

The issue with the passing game as explained by McQueary is that the quarerbacks and wide receivers are simply not in sync yet. The reads, routes and timing has just not come together after six practices.

McQueary praised Deon Butler, who has also received high marks from both Alan Zemaitis and Michael Robinson when Fight on State recently interviewed both. According to the coach, Butler has displayed the best overall technique at beating cornerbacks early this spring.

Another "surprise" out of the early spring drills is Ethan Kilmer, who Joe Paterno named in his pre-spring press conference. Described as one of the fastest and best overall athletes on the team, Kilmer boasts a 45-inch vertical leap and 4.40 40 speed. Currently he is also with the wideouts.

Williams showed some excellent route running Friday. One one out he was matched up against Jordan Norwood in drills and tore by him. Unfortunately Michael Robinson could not deliver the ball to him.

On Friday the first team offensive line was:

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

Pat Weber also saw some snaps at center.

Defensive Notes

Coordinator Tom Bradley addressed the attendees, reviewing the defensive topics. He indicated that the defense is currently playing in an off two-deep scheme, focused, playing mostly three and two deep. However, he explained that the attendees will see more press two deep during the clinic, which will likely remain in the defensive approach for the fall.

The defense is disciplined, fast and plays as a unit. The line is smart and communicates well. PSU appears to have the makings of a great defense this year.

The starting front seven Friday were:

LE: Tamba Hali
LT: Jay Alford
RT: Steve Roach
RE: Matthew Rice

OLB: Dan Connor
MLB: Tim Shaw
OLB: Paul Posluszny

Chris Harrell and Calvin Lowry were in at the safety spots.

Elijah Robinson also saw reps at defensive tackle and was described by attendees as "unbelieveable." On one play he put Antolick on his back off the snap. He was very consistent on the match-up drills between the offensive and defensive lines.

Special Team Notes

Jordan Norwood, Derrick Williams and Deon Butler were catching punts Friday in practice. Justin King was sidelined with a slight ankle injury which was not said to be serious.

7-on-7 Notes

None of the quarterbacks stood out as overly impressive during the 7-on-7 drills against the first team defense. Robinson "looks better" and had touchdown passes to both Derrick Williams and Terrell Golden.

As stated in previous FOS comparison reports, the arm strength of both Robinson and Morelli are fairly similar. Robinson is said to be "slightly ahead of Morelli" by an observer who saw them for the first segment of practice.

Tamba Hali is decribed as "playing all out" and looks like "he's trying to nail down a first-round draft position." Ed Johnson apparently did not drill Friday.

Drill 6 Report (7-on-7 from the 45)

BranDon Snow is running first team fullback. First-team wideouts are Derrick Williams, Mark Rubin and Deon Butler. Golden has looked "good."

Rubin appears to run more of a 4.60 forty than they previously stated 4.75 seconds by McQueary.

Robinson has shown a tendency to toss passes high. One attendee said "he floats them at times."

Morelli launched a 45-yard touchdown to Jordan Lyons against the second-team defense. He "looks like a pro with his delivery."

Passing game is described as "average," but given Robinson's ability to scramble he is said to be ahead of Morelli right now.

The last 30 minutes of Friday's session was a full scrimmage. The offense ran an I-formation with Snow and Hunt in the I formation, Williams and Butler as the wideouts and Robinson under center. Seconds after the snap the defense was "swarming" Robinson.

The first-team defense is so "stacked," as one observer put it, that it is difficult to get a feel for the offense.

All in all the wideouts are faster than last season and more precise on routes. When Morelli was working with the second team he fared well, especially without the likes of Hali, Alford, Robinson and Rice in his face.

During the scrimmage the H-Back was Snow. Hunt looked "awesome" and "fantastic" with his runs.

Jordan Lyons also received some nice praise. As one observer put it, "right now he seems better than [Isaac] Smolko — with 20 to 30 pounds he'll be something."

Interesting Sidenotes

  • Kenny Jackson attended practice Friday.
  • Tim Shaw ran a 4.3 range forty along with Rodney Kinlaw.
  • Tim Shaw didn't see any snaps on offense Friday.


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