Nittany Notes: Tuning Up

With Penn State entering Big Ten play, the coaching staff is looking to fine tune things on both sides of the ball. With some shifts and returning personnel on the depth chart, Joe Paterno and company are working to build off the consistency the units have shown and eliminate the team's mistakes.

Back in Action

Several observers expect Dan Connor, E.Z. Smith and Jimmy Shaw to play against Northwestern this weekend. All three have been practicing with the team this week and "look ready for action."

Through this week Connor has seen second-team reps with the linebackers, though he has shifted to outside linebacker during the latter part of the week. It is unclear if this shift is in preparation to move Tim Shaw back to the middle position if and when Connor returns to the starting lineup.

Smith continues to see the bulk of his reps in practice at second-team center, with some coming with the first-team offensive line. As one observer explained, "E.Z. will likely see some time this weekend, but he's still in the doghouse, so the amount of time he sees is a big question right now."

Jimmy Shaw is back from his knee sprain and seeing reps at second-team defensive tackle this week. "He looks consistent — like he hasn't really missed a step." He too is expected to see some playing time this week as part of the defensive tackle rotation.

Line's Busy

As we reported last week, Tyler Reed was seeing reps with the first-team offense, but continued to wear the green second-team jersey in practice. This week he has been officially moved to the first team and now dons the powder blue jersey of the unit.

Several fans have asked about John Shaw's situation. As of right now it appears that Shaw will be redshirting this year with a potential shift to offensive tackle in his future. "The staff like his size and mobility on the end of the line to handle pass rush situations," one observer explained.

Levi Brown did miss practice on Monday when he had a wisdom tooth removed. The tooth was not impacted but was bothering Brown. Brown has since returned to lineup and continues to practice with the first-team line at tackle. He will have his three remaining wisdom teeth removed after the season.

Other Notes

Justin King has been practicing with the second-team defense at cornerback, but has also been rotating in with the wide receivers. He is expected to see the bulk of his playing time at offense, although with the defense incorporating the nickel and penny schemes "he could see time in the rotations there."

Derrick Williams continues to field punts, however the staff is not completely comfortable with his progress there yet. "He could see some opportunities there this weekend given Lowry's recent issues, but the staff has concerns."

Tony Hunt continues to carry the bulk of first-team reps in practice at TB with Austin Scott rotating in from time to time from the second team. As one observer shared, "Austin needs to get his consistency down. Hunt just leads the pack all-around."


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