Although the 37-3 score of Penn State football's win over Youngstown State reflected a clear dominance, the team was not pleased with the overall performance. "The offense moved the ball at will, but early on several drives stalled out when the really shouldn't have," one observer explained. "Theis week the coaches talked to the squad about their mistakes with playing too tight out of the gate."
Although the staff stressed the need to "open things up" against Ohio State, some observers said they are skeptical. As one observer said, "I think there is a legitimate concern over putting the game on Morelli's shoulders. He had a bad game against Youngstown based on his abilties. He's a tough kid mentally, but the coaches are concerned over how he will react in Columbus - Galen [Hall] wants to get Morelli battle-tested in this one - show he can handle pressure. It's not like they have anything to lose in this situation."
Overall, the offensive unit was not pleased with the YSU performance. "The game wasn't a confidence booster, but it seems to have at least been some sort of a wake up call."
The consensus around the dfense is that they feel they put out a "solid performance," but "know they have to play that well times ten to matchup with Ohio State."
One of the big focal points of this week's practice was the coverage and containment of Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith. Although the scout team position was manned by Kevin Suhey on several snaps, the coaches saw it was only appropriate to have back-up QB Daryll Clark step into the role he "played masterfully" last year to prepare PSU.
"Daryll is a very similar style quarterback to Smith. He's a little bigger (6-foot-2, 225 pounds vs. Smith at 6-foot1, 217 pounds), but he runs hard and is excellent on breakdowns like Smith is," according to one observer.
This week the team dusted off elements of the "Chase Freddie" drill they used last season to prepare for Central Michigan's QB Kent Smith and Ohio State's Troy Smith. "The drill was great to help the defensive linemen and 'backers instinctively anticipate what a mobile Qb will do," one observer said. "It made perfect sense to use Clark since he can run and pass well."
The interior of the front seven, particularly Jay Alford and Paul Poslsuzny were "effective" in shutting down lanes and flushing him wide on a consisten basis, although they have to "watch the draw, which Smith is so good at running in the right situations." Posluszny bit on some delay fakes which gave enough time to pick up some nice gains.
Anthony Morelli saw last week's game as "failure in his abilties." This week "he was out early and stayed late working on his passing and progressions. He saw the YSU game as a big opportunity to put up some big numbers and he flat out tried to hard for some big plays. He knows it. He likely matured more from that game than from the ND loss."
The consensus around Morelli is that he is mentally tough, but he gets "too excited over small victories and too disappointed in small losses." As one observer said, "He watched a lot of film to pick up where he fell down and to learn how to pace his game and keep his emotions level."
"He wants to win this game badly, but realizes he has to play to his abilties and keep his emotions balanced. This will be a huge test for him in another hostile environment - it's a big opportunity though," an observer opined.
Here are some interesting notes and quotes of areas the team foicused on improving this week in practice: