The Penn State Coaches Clinic is in full swing and Fight On State is the place to get inside access, news and notes from the event, which has been closed off to the media. Check this story often for updated reports around the event.
This report runs in reverse chronological order, with the most recent reports appearing first.
Afternoon Session Notes
Jay Paterno discussed how the offensive coaches have added "a lot more formations" in the last few years to "drive defensive coordinators nuts."
He believes the offensive strength this year sits with the speed and abilities of the wide receiver unit, which has "great depth and versatility."
They are providing the quarterbacks with a lot of freedom when it comes to calling audibles in passing game.
They have been running more bunch formations this spring to get receivers outside and open.
They are focused more and more on finding quarterbacks who can run and throw as a duel threat.
He opened the session by telling the coaches in attendance he will not answer questions on how he schemes or prepares for games, because he doesn't know who is in attendance (last year there was a group here from a HS near South Bend).
Bradley really knows his stuff and is very charismatic with the coaches. He said PSU typically does not play a lot of press coverage, and that the last few years they have not played a lot of press like the secondary has in the past with guys like with David Macklin and Bhawoh Jue in the late 1990s. This year, he expects the defense to play more press coverage through the scheme. Press coverage is used to help "Larry's guys" pick up sacks. The players don't play the interception in press.
According to Bradley the defensive stats that matter to Penn State are:
2. Ability to keep opponent out of the end zone
3. Missed tackles
4. Number of opponent runs over 10 yards
5. Number passes over 15 yards
He continually stressed keeping the ball in front of a player and not giving up the game by giving up big plays.
He stressed positive peer pressure is the best motivational tool.
He was sad to see a certain wideout at a competing school graduate because this player would "give away run or pass every down." He would not give up the player's name.
He said Joe Paterno doesn't stand to watch the secondary anymore as he can't move as easily with his recovered leg.
During the spring, they play right and left corners in the secondary. However, from the Ohio State game on last year Justin King went to the team's best receiver on every snap. In the past, they have played on one side only (left or right), but now they are playing "strength to strength."
He discussed zone blitzing and how it is used to change the tempo of game. It gets his defensive players attacking and also gets them in an aggressive state of mind.
He likes to blitz PSU's best rushers. They work a lot on "bluffs." For example, if he is sending five players, he makes it look like six guys are coming.
He also says he is big on adjustments. After the first quarter of a game he typically changes up the defensive game plan to better match the offense.
Morning Session Notes
According to Johnson, to earn the right to rush the passer at Penn State you must first step up and stop the run. This is why he focuses on the interior of the line and keeping his players "fresh."
Observers are very impressed with how well the defensive line is coached. Johnson is very clear that it is important for a player to perform well in drills if he hopes to do well in game situations.
He talked about the importance of speed off the snap. The great ends have speed and endurance, two things which are hard to coach, but are instrumental in the game today.
Johnson demonstrated what he called the "Michigan hold technique" and jokingly asked what the referee is looking at when he is standing right there.
Attendees watched some drill clips of Jay Alford, Ed Jonson and others.
The importance of the safeties was discussed and how they are instrumental in "killing the running game." This year's Super Bowl was cited as an example: The Colts' safeties played up, crowding the line, while the Bears' safeties were "scared" of the pass, so the "Colts ran wild."
From an offensive perspective, improving the efficiency of passing game will keep the safeties out of the run game and focused on supporting the corners.
Penn State focuses on playing a Cover-3 scheme. However, the defense will show a Cover-3 as a mask to a Cover-2 to throw off the opposing offense.
Speed at both linebacker and safety is instrumental to Penn State's defensive success in "playing containment." The PSU coaches feel they have both this year.
The coaches recently moved John Shaw inside for a couple of reasons. First, they needed better management of the ends from the tackles. Second, in PSU's counter game the tackles pull and need to be able to run, which seems to explain why Gerald Cadogan and Dennis Landbolt are seeing time at tackles, since both are pretty fast and mobile for linemen.
Against Notre Dame the referees complained about Penn State's hard hitting punches — Levi Brown in particular — on the defensive ends for the Irish when they rushed the pass.
The Penn State Coaches Clinic, which hosts hundreds of football coaches from around the region, kicked off Friday morning. This weekend's event, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, has tight security around it. In fact, the practices are being held at Beaver Stadium to help manage entery into the event and all entrants must have their PSU issued identification badge with them at all times to attend the events.
For only the second time in the past two decades, Joe Paterno closed the Coaches Clinic event and scrimmage (this Saturday) to the media. All media requests for access were immediately denied, even those people who tried to sign up for the clinc as attendees.
Observers say the coach has put the program in a state of "media lockdown" due to all of the speculation about the fight incident.
Friday morning sessions are being conducted by PSU coaches Bill Kenney (OL), Larry Johnson (DL), Dick Anderson (OL) and Jay Paterno (QB).
Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for more reports from the clinic.