With practice preseason underway, Penn State has been transitioning back into action from shorts and T-shirts to helmets and shells, and from agility tests to 7-on-7 drills. Next the Lions will don their full on-field armor and turn up the intensity in preparation for full-contact practices.
We have gathered some general practice tidbits from this week's sessions. Things have been basically quiet with the Penn State football players easing into practice. Keep in mind that two-a-days do not begin until next week, which is when the practice action really takes off. The team drills are limited contact right now and have been all week so far.
The reason for these lighter "transition" workouts is due to recent NCAA rules which state teams have the option of conducting one on-field practice per day, which cannot exceed three hours in length, or they can conduct one on-field testing session, like speed, conditioning or agility tests per day, not exceed one hour in length and one on-field practice, not to exceed two hours in length. These limitations provide for a transition for the players to work up to two-a-day sessions.
The defensive and offensive units have been spending a portion of most practices focusing on fundamental unit drills aimed at improving technique and getting the players to work together within each unit (e.g. linebackers, offensive line, etc.) Units from different sides of the ball (for example, linebackers vs. running backs) have also seen some light drills vs. one another.
The team is currently practicing in helmets and shells with shorts in drills. Practices now incorpotate a period where the teams run Drill 6 schemes, otherwise known as 7-on-7 drills, to work in and try out a variety of offensive looks and matchup against some defensive assignments. These passing drills have been described as "light and laid back" early on, focused on route running and timing between the quarterbacks and wideouts.
Michael Robinson has spent a majority of his Drill 6 snaps with the first team, but a portion of those snaps have gone to Anthony Morelli.
The first-team wide receiver sets have also seen some rotations between Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, Mark Rubin, Ethan Kilmer, Terrell Golden and Jordan Norwood, with a few other athletes getting a few snaps with Robinson.
With that in mind, the passing game has seen four-wide receiver sets run this week, with a varity of routes tossed into the mix including curls, slants and outs — "a wide range of possibilites," as one observer described.
The staff is also looking to work in some two-tight end set schemes to add another dimension in the intermediate passing game. The concern is focused around the depth of the tight end spot. As one observer explained, "Finding some depth at the tight end positions that have consistent receiving skills has been challenging early on."
The running back drills have been focused on working with the offensive line's pulls and shifts to help the backs identify and hit holes. Tony Hunt and Austin Scott have been splitting time with the first team reps early on.
The team will add full pads this weekend and increase the level of contact, working to two-a-days next week and eventually to full scrimmages.