Nittany Notes: Lions Get Back in Action

Although it seems the college football season just ended and Penn State has barely had time to enjoy its Outback Bowl victory, the Nittany Lions are already back in action this week kicking off preparations for the 2007 campaign. See what Penn State is up to with its winter sets.

This week marks the kickoff of Penn State's winter drills with the Nittany Lions starting mandatory workouts this past Monday. Already three days into the workouts, the PSU players are focused on general conditioning — workouts, run sets and agility sessions.

The Lions are also seeing some Drill 6 and 1v1/2v2 linemen sessions work this week. The kickers and punters have also been seeing work in the early going of these winter sessions.

For those unfamiliar with the Drill 6 exercise, this is a fundamental drill which allows the skill players to practice passing schemes in a 7-on-7 format. It allows the quarterbacks, wideouts and tight ends to work in a variety of offensive looks while matching up against linebacker and secondary assignments. These drills are typicaly "focused on fundamentals like clean breaks off the line, route-running, creating separation, and working the timing of passes."

The 1v1/2v2 drills are basically one-on-one, two-on-two sets where offensive linemen are matched up with assignments and are tested on their ability to engage, shift, roll or pull on their defensive line counterparts. These drills focus on the offensive linemen's skills of engaging, setting and holding their blocks and on the defensive linemen's ability to "break the block," create leverage and use their frame to set their assignment off-balance.

Here are some notes from the early drill sessions:

  • Anthony Morelli, Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin have all seen some early Drill 6 passing reps with the first-team wideouts. Some early observations are that Morelli "is more confident and comfortable than even the latter part of this past season," Clark "is pushing to get himself ready for a spring battle" and Devlin, "looks fluid and relaxed" with his passing game.

    Observers feel that the quaterback competition could prove to be a good one this off-season, although the consensus is that it's Morelli's to lose. However, a few observers have praised Devlin for his management of the Scout team this past season and his role-playing of Tennessee QB Erik Ainge in preparing the defense for the Outback Bowl. "He was sharp in the bowl practices and continues to be so far this winter," one observer said.

  • The first team Drill 6 wideout positions have rotated between Deon Butler, Chris Bell, Terrell Golden, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams. Butler and Norwood have "been working with Bell on getting off the line and the basics of his game," as one observer explained. Norwood has participated in early drills despite his current role on the basketball team.

  • On the offense line some players that have received early praise in drills are Lou Eliades, Rich Ohrnberger and Dennis Landolt. Eliades in particular has been praised for his "footwork, surge and intensity — the guy doesn;t quit."

  • The kicking situation has Kevin Kelly, Collin Wagner and Joe Hughes veying for the place-kicking job. Currently Jeremy Boone is the only punter taking reps.

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