Nittany Notes: Pressing Questions

FightOnState.com continues to receive a variety of questions surrounding the team, units and personnel shifts we reported on last week and saw against Illinois. So, in order to uncover some answers, we have gone inside the program to ge first-hand accounts.

With Penn State in the home stretch of the 2005 season, the Nittany Lions are "taking things one step at a time" and "maintaining a razor sharp focus" headed into Purdue. The coaching staff continues to fine tune the squad on both sides of the ball.

What is the team's attitude heading into Purdue?

By all accounts the squad is approaching Purdue in the smae manner it approached Illinois. A manner that is described by observers as "all buiness," "determined" and "intent."

"The team sees this as another trap game where the world expects them to stumble again. They definitely have their eyes squarely on the Boilers," one observer shared.

Several observers pointed out that the team is embracing and even "loving" the seemingly limited respect the national media is providing them. "As one of the D leaders said to the unit after Illinois, 'Let the world keep talking and we'll keep showing.' "

Where will A.Q. Shipley end up?

That is a question the staff is asking and lobbying to answer. After he recorded a sack against the Illini a few days after switching from offensive line to defensive tackle.

"Shipley has been tremendous in practice since he shifted over [to defensive tackle]," explained one observer. "The guy has such intensity and plays all out — love his motor. That sack meant the world to him."

Shipley's shift is an interesting one to say the least. The staff was seemingly sold on making it a temporary move when it occured last week. However, that sentiment may be starting to shift some.

"Although he only pulled down, what, two tackles, he has been showing the staff a lot out there. It could be tough to shift him back over with [Scott] Paxson moving on [graduating]. The defensive staff already seems to be jockying to keep him."

Shipley has seen some first-team reps in practice this week and is expected to play a greater role in the tackle rotation for Purdue.

Will Rodney Kinlaw stay on kickoff returns permanently?

Currently the coaching staff is maintaining the kickoff return scheme we first reported on last week and saw used against Illinois. Justin King and Rodney Kinlaw will continue to practice as the return points on kickoffs and provide "the best break-away combo."

"The staff was thrilled with Kinlaw's speed and moves out there — he was probably the most pleasant surprise of the [Illinois] game," one observer shared. "They do want hm to focus on knowing when to 'upshift' his speed — he tends to do it too early at times."

With Kinlaw seeing 10 carries for 14 yards against Illinois it is "unlikely he will unseat Austin Scott as the backup [tailback], but the coaches want to use his speed to their advantage and this is ideal."

Why did the staff play Devin Fentress so late and burn his redshirt?

"Fentress was fantastic on the scout team — this is the guy who played the role of Ted Ginn better than Ted Ginn. He was a big factor in prepping the defense for OSU."

Fentress shifted to the second-team defense at corner last week and showed he had the speed and fundamentals to play. However, "Brian [Norwood] wants to refine his skills and help him control that speed. This game provided a great opportunity for that."

Fentress is expected to maintain his second-team spot at corner in preparation for Purdue, although he will have to continue battling Tony Davis.

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