This year, for only the second time in two decades, the media was not allowed into the Penn State football program's Coaches Clinic Scrimmage. But that didn't stop FightOnState.com from covering the event, thanks to an assist from our well-placed and well-informed observers. Get updates here on the defensive side of the ball in this free preview of our TAP reports.
Reports from our most reliable sets of eyes have already begun to pour in. We will update this file as we receive more news.
Please note we are offering this report as a FREE preview of our Total Access Pass coverage. Want to learn what went down with the offense and special teams Saturday? Looking for the lowdown on Friday's sessions?
These were among the items that stood out at the scrimmage, which was played at Beaver Stadium under ideal weather conditions:
Overall, the defense seems to be ahead of the offense at this point. "The defense pretty much dominated," one observer said.
Coordinator Tom Bradley worked "a ton of blitzing schemes today," with the defense even sending the entire front seven on some snaps. The linebackers were the only blitzers Bradley used. There were no safety or corner blitz sets in the packages used during the scrimmage.
The defensive front, particularly the tackles, continued to impress. Redshirt freshman Abe Koroma "seems to be the best," and once again teamed with sophomore Phillip Taylor on the first string. Another redshirt freshman, Ollie Ogbu, gives Penn State "three space-eaters who are also quick."
On Ogbu, one observer said, "he made some plays out there. I like him."
Add in sophomore Jared Odrick, redshirt sophomore Chris Baker and the expected return of redshirt freshman Tom McEowen in the fall, and PSU has a load of talent in the middle of the line, albeit inexperienced.
A.J. Wallace was beaten on two end-zone corner passes. The first was dropped by Derrick Williams, while the second was pulled in by Terrell Golden. Wallace "is vocal out there." He had some words with Chris Bell on one play and "smacked him on the helmet — it got heated a bit, but Bell walked way."
Defensive End Maurice Evans "blew up" grayshirt freshman offensive tackle Johnnie Troutman on a few plays. "Evans just ran right through him — the guy tossed aside his stance, Evans saw it and treated him like a speed-bump," one observer said.
While the staff continued to play head games with certain veterans during drills — busting them down the depth chart — once the scrimmage started most of them were back with the first team. That included linebacker Dan Connor and cornerback Justin King. Wallace, the projected starter opposite King, is in the doghouse a bit for being late for a couple of team-related appointments.
One veteran who was NOT back with the first team for the scrimmage was linebacker Tyrell Sales. He was replaced by Navorro Bowman, who appears to be making a serious push for the starting job. "Bowman played well," one observer said. "He's very instinctive. He fills the hole in a hurry and hits you."
Defensive end Josh Gaines, who is dealing with a team incident separate from "the fight," was back seing first-team reps Saturday at the end position. As observer shared, "The coaches were running sets where Gaines would drop back into Sean Lee's outside 'backer spot and Lee would step up to the line as a standup end with Evans, Taylor and Koroma."
Backup linebacker Jerome Hayes looked good in the scrimmage. "Hayes had some huge hits," an observer said. "That is one hitting machine." Though Hayes does not test well in the 40, "he plays fast. He plays aggressive." The staff is said be trying to get him to play under control more, though. Given the depth of the LB unit there is talk of a possible position shift.
Freshman Nick Sukay was at safety and "looks like a freshman — he was lost on some plays. He's athletic, though. He wasn't stellar and needs some work. He just needs to bury himself in the playbook."
The linebackers have changed up a bit in how they play in coverage, Bradley explained during the clinic. As one observer said, "The 'backers typically play a zone coverage package, but they are playing quarterback reads more, where they read the QB's motions and react to his drop, windup and delivery."