After six days without a practice, the Nittany Lions were back in action on Monday afternoon, continuing their spring preparations for the 2007 season. Get an update on the team's most recent practice and the ups and downs of the session.
Prior to Monday's practice, the last time Penn State
participated in drills was the previous Monday. Although the staff scheduled a practice for last Wednesday, head coach Joe Paterno elected to cancel the session in lieu of his frustration with an off-field incident that allegedly involved members of his team.
As FOS reported last week on our TAP message board, during the initial part of Wednesday's scheduled squad meeting Paterno addressed the players about the incident. He was visibly upset and was "frustrated with having to deal with this," according to one observer.
The team did not have a scheduled practice on Friday or Saturday of last week for an extended break over the Easter holiday. As one observer explained, "[The coaches] felt it would be best to let everyone just step away for a few days and come back to action refocused."
That return to action took place on Monday, during the team's regularly scheduled practice. This session was not a scrimmage. Here are some news and notes from the event:
The first-team defensive line worked a series of agility, strength and technique drills. Jared Odrick and Abe Koroma saw the bulk of first-team reps at defensive tackle with Phillip Taylor and Chris Baker also seeing some "spot duty" with the starting unit. Odrick "is getting more and more comfortable engaging off the snap," one observer explained. "Typically it takes a while for a former end to get used to the change of speed and technique when they move inside and vice versa. When Tamba Hali moved outside from tackle to end, he picked it up quickly. It's always a good sign when that happens and Jared is on that track."
In terms of the defensive ends, the players who saw first-team reps were Maurice Evans and Aaron Maybin. Maybin has seen work from the two-point (stand-up) and three-point stances. "[The staff] ideally would like to play him off the line from a three-point to help him get up and under to shed the blocker," one observer explained. "The two-point allows him to exploit his speed, which is a handful, but playing high it sacrifices some leverage." In terms of Josh Gaines, "he's around, but he has had some issues to deal with." Gaines has seen some third-team action, a shift that's related to an "internal team issue" and not associated with the off-field issue mentioned earlier.
Defensive end Eric Latimore saw increased action with the second-team unit on Monday. "He's so physical. Once he gets the shifts and details down he's going to be a player," an observer opined. On the other side, Chris Rogers is seeing reps with the second team at DE. "Chris is tenacious — he's not as quick as Eric [Latimore], but he's getting comfortable. He needs to get his shedding technique down more consistently."
The linebackers saw some shifts on Monday, including veterans Dan Connor and Tyrell Sales stepping aside to give younger players some first-team work. In terms of the first team reps, Sean Lee, Dontey Brown and Novorro Bowman saw the bulk of time on Monday.
The first-team offensive line on Monday saw some changes. From right to left it included:
RT: Dennis Landolt
RG: John Shaw
C: A.Q. Shipley
LG: Rich Ohrnberger
LT: Gerald Cadogan
"The coaches like the progress Dennis [Landolt] is making and would like to get him in the lineup," an observer said.
As for shifting Shaw inside from tackle, he "looked pretty good." However, Ohrnberger "on the left would need some work if he sticks there."
"The individual pull matchups are smoother and they are getting better on watching each other on rolls overall," an observer explained. "A.Q. has been working a lot with the guys on the communication change-ups and assignments. He's a guy they look to."
We'll see if this lineup stays intact, although observers feel Landolt's progress is a significant positive for the line.
Austin Scott "had a good session" and "came out swinging." He "hit the holes hard and really knocked helmets — there was a lot less dancing. Hopefully it has clicked." Scott showed particular strength on off-tackle and outside runs in drills. "They are working him quite a bit on the inside," another observer said.
Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for ongoing spring practice and recruiting coverage of Penn State football.