Nittany Notes: On the Offensive

As Penn State comes off its third loss of the season, the Nittany Lion offense has has some interesting developments this week in preparation for the Illinois clash on Saturday. Get an update here.

Frustrations Loom

Coming off the team's second-lowest passing yardage total of the season (133 yards), many of Penn State offensive starters were not pleased with the play-calling against Michigan and apparently made their opinions known to the offensive coaches.

"A group of the players voiced their opinions that the play-calling was not using their abilities to the fullest extent and, hence, not putting the team in a position to win," one observer shared. "The wideouts in particular have been fuming over this loss. Yeah, some point to [Anthony] Morelli completing 61 percent of his passes — big deal — he completed 64 percent against Ohio State and barely broke 100 yards there."

The consensus among observers we spoke with is that the players feel that the coaches are "adopting the play-it-safe approach" and are "avoiding any risks."

According to one observer, "It's great to have high completion rates, but when you see 60-plus percent completion rates and four to five yards per pass, that's a problem."

Against Ohio State, Morelli had 4.24 yards per completion and against Michigan his YPC was 7.4 yards.

Pass Rush Preparations

Obviously, Michigan's aggressive pass rush "tore apart the PSU line," as one observer put it. This week defensive linemanJared Odrick was shifted to the scout team and "told to wreak hovoc on them." Odrick saw reps at both end positions to challenge each side of the line.

"Odrick is obviously still learning, but he is aggrssive on the rush, which these guys on the line need to see and prepare for," an observer shared.

There were also limited situations where Sean Lee and Maurice Evans were placed in situational schemes to "help the offensive line identify bitz weak points and make adjustments."

Passing Zone

The start of this week saw Paul Cinaciolo taking first-team reps as Morelli and Daryll Clark, the first and second quarterbacks on the depth chart, respectively, were sidelined due to injuries (each with minor concussions). Both were regularly tested and observers by the medical staff.

Tuesday they took snap drills with light passing and no contact, for the medical personnel to evaluate their status and ability to play. Cleared to see reps after that practice, both quarterbacks have taken snaps and run drills through the latter course of this week's sessions.

Morelli "looks ready," but as one observer put it, "my opinion is that Clark may see more reps for the simple fact that his injury did not seem as serious as Tony's. That's just a guess, really, since it's tough to second guess the med folks."

Not all observers agree with that assessment. "Both guys are preparing as if they would for any other game. Morelli looks ready to go — I think he starts."

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