Tuesday Player Audio

Veterans Smolko and Harrell talk about the team as the season-opener nears.

Isaac Smolko Audio.

Chris Harrell Audio.


Isaac Smolko

1. Your stock has risen in Coach Paterno’s eyes. Do you get the sense that he’s more pleased with you?

Coming into his senior year, Isaac realized he hasn’t done things the way he should have. He’s worked a lot harder and it’s made Joe more pleased with him.

2. What areas has Michael Robinson improved in?

The biggest thing is his decision making. He’s making the right decisions now and making them quicker, allowing him to deliver the ball sooner than in the past.

3. What’s different about this team’s attitude from last year?

There are a lot of seniors on this team. The seniors went into the offseason workout program knowing what they wanted to accomplish and the other players have picked up on that and followed them.

4. Has your role changed with the multiple wide receiver sets?

When PSU uses a 4-WR set, Isaac won’t be on the field, but other than that, not much has changed.

5. How have the young WRs held up against PSU’s veteran secondary?

They’ve held up well. They’ve had their times where they have burned the older DBs. The secondary shows them how they have to perform this year

6. Do you model your game after any former Penn State or NFL players?

Isaac likes the way Todd Heap plays.

7. What have you specifically done differently that has impressed the coach?

Relentless effort, not giving up. Holding blocks until the whistle. Going as long and as hard as he can in everything he does to build up his stamina.

Chris Harrell

1. How much has the Connor situation been a distraction for the defense?

It hasn’t been much of a distraction. He’s still practicing with the defense. When the incident first came to light, the team dealt with it and they’ve done their best to move on.

2. What is your impression of the young WRs?

They’re really learning fast. Having an experienced secondary, they’re able to learn things from the DBs. The DBs go back to the huddle with them telling the WRs what they are seeing. Going against an experienced secondary is giving them the knowledge that other young WRs don’t normally get.

3. How have you been preparing for South Florida’s spread offense?

They have a lot of tall, fast WRs, so a lot of DBs have been getting reps because they know a lot of guys will have to play on Saturday. They use a lot of different formations, so it’s tough to know what to expect.

4. How much anticipation do you have for Saturday?

Chris has a lot of anticipation. He’s been waiting for this moment for over a year now. There was a time when he thought he might not play again, so it allowed Chris to realize how much he loves the game.

5. Talk about the neck injury and how it happened.

Last spring, Chris made a hit on a WR over the middle. He stuck his helmet right into the receiver’s chest and felt a sharp pain down the back of his neck. There was no time where he was immobilized or had a brace on the neck, but there were a few days where the doctors weren’t sure if the fracture would heal well enough to allow Harrell to play again.

6. Did the receivers have a tough time going against Alan Zemaitis and Chris Harrell?

They had a tough time at first. Once those guys get their hands on you, it’s tough to get off the line of scrimmage. Since the team has had a long preseason camp, they have learned what it takes to beat a cornerback like AZ.

7. Alan Zemaitis indicated that he wishes there was more time to recuperate before the first game after the difficult camp the coaches have put the team through. Has this been one of the toughest preseason camps you’ve seen?

Chris doesn’t know if it’s the toughest, but it has been the longest. Normally camp doesn’t go three weeks, but this year it did, so the running, drills and hitting has gotten old.

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