Nittany Notes: Q&A

With the Nittany Lions having two weeks to prepare for their final regular season game against Michigan State, there are several questions circulating around the team and its preparations for the trip to East Lansing.

This week the staff gave the team Monday off and set up a practice schedule of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday was a practice with light sessions. Wedneday saw an increase in intensity and Thursday's practice is expected to be "flat out tough."

This is a similar "ramp up" approach the staff implemented for games against Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. As one observer explained, "It's an approach that allows the guys to build up to a crescendo and maximize the team's intensity. The tricky part is building it up over a two week period."

Will we see any personnel shifts?

Currently there are no major shifts planned. According to one observer, "The season is almost over, so it doesn't really make sense to change things up at this point."

The staff will continue to run its rotations like Scott Paxson, Jay Alford and A.Q. Shipley at defensive tackle. Barring any injuries or issues, expect to see the same lineup on the offensive line and wideouts.

How healthy is the team after Wisconsin?

Though earlier in the week we reported on injuries resulting from the win over the Badgers, Matthew Rice, BranDon Snow and Tony Hunt all apprear to be fully recovered and practicing.

The one issue the Lions are facing is with the concussion Justin King sustained in the game Saturday. As we reported Thursday morning on our TAP board, while King feels he is ready to practice, the staff has felt differently and has kept him out of practice for Tuesday and Wednesday's sessions. This has been done merely as a precaution and he is expected to play against Michigan State.

Other than that there are no new known injuries resulting from the Wisconsin game.

Will we see any new offensive "wrinkles" against Michigan State?

Observers have shared that the staff hopes to "expand the amount and variety of situations that Justin King is used in." Currently, the fact he is sidelined has not allowed for this, however, the staff plans "to get him back into action as soon as it's reasonable."

Michael Robinson has spent a lot of time this week watching film and discussing with the coaches how to breakdown and exploit the Spartan defense. "He knows what is riding on this one and he's all business," another observer explained. "He has been working with the wideouts to take advantage of what he sees on film."

What about with the defense?

On the defensive side of the ball, the coaches are working on "expanding their blitz shemes" to apply pressure. As one observer shared, "This key to this game is not that different from Wisconsin. Pressure the QB and keep the offense on edge. Force quick and hopefully bad decisions."

Penn State's defense knows that Drew Stanton is a sharp, dangerous quarterback who can deliver the ball very effectively. "I doubt the game strategy will shift dramatically from Wisconsin, but the tactics may."

With so many guys up for awards will Penn State "feature" any players to help their cause?

"It depends on what you mean by feature," an observer shared. "Our defense always features guys like Paul [Posluszny] and Tamba [Hali] and the O always features Mike [Robinson]."

Penn State is not expected to make any dramatic shifts in the scheme to help boost the numbers of any players. As another observer explained, "This is about winning a football game, not an award. The players know that. They come here to be part of a team not in search of individual honors. Sure, those are nice, but the second you take your eye off the ultimate goal you lose your opportunity."


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