As you probably know, the vast majority of Penn State football practices are closed. So we depend on a team of knowledgeable, reliable and well-placed "observers" within the program to relay information to us. We withhold their names so they can speak their mind without fear of retribution.
We trust what these "observers" say to be accurate or we would not pass on that information to you. Having said that, though, please keep in mind that we do use a variety of sources and that they are not always in complete agreement with one another.
Thank you, and now on to the report.
THE SCENE: It was a "spirited" session on Friday afternoon that had the Penn State players put on the pads for the first time this preseason. The session was in preparation for both two-a-days and the first preseason scrimmage, both of which take place on Saturday, with Media Day scheduled in-between the sessions.
"The initial pad session helps the coaches assess the younger players, like freshmen (true and redshirt)," one observer explained. "Some of the young guys carry the pads well, but the equipment coupled with the speed of the game is different than high school."
THE TOPIC: Pad Session.
Unfortunately, with contact often come injuries. This was the case for the Nittany Lions yesterday as true freshman defensive end Devon Still tore his right ACL in practice and is expected to miss the entire 2007 season. We wish Still a fast and full recovery. He is expected to take a redshirt this coming season during his rehab.
Defensive tackle Phillip Taylor also sustained a minor injury recently, which is expected to sideline him in the near future.
Among the young true freshmen who "carried their saddle" (pads) well were linebacker Chris Colasanti, said to carry "the pads like it's nothing," offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, who "has a tremendous build," defensive end Chimaeze Okoli, who "is pretty intimidating suited up," and tight end Andrew Szczerba, who "looks the part."
The younger guys who need to "get comfortable with the gear," are Derek Moye, Joey Suhey, Kevion Latham and Quinn Barham. "It's not that they don't fit into the gear, but to get to the speed they need to play at they need get adjusted to the suit -- some guys need some workout time others just need to get comfortable, I think some might need to be refitted with smaller pads," one observer explained
The linemen on both sides of the ball saw some 1v1 and 2v2 sessions allowing them to matchup and work some "assignment fundamentals like setting and holding blacks for the offensive linemen and "the rip technique" the defensive linemen use on pass rushing.
Cadogan "held his own" with his sheer size and "his footwork is coming along" as he matched up against some defensive ends like Josh Gaines and the "speedy" Maurice Evans who "is a real handful with his constant movement -- he never quits", which tests the [offensive] linemen on blocks. As one observer said of Evans, "his pure technique is the best of the [defensive ends] -- he's borderline obsessive over getting it right, asking for critiques from the coaches or other players."
Lou Eliades continues to get praise, "he tears into the drills -- he needs get his center down on every snap to really exploit his ability, and also engage with his hands -- use them for containment." Eliades has "held his own" and people are surprised he's "only a redshirt freshman."
Another defensive tackle who has come one in early contact drills is Jared Odrick. "J's more comfortable at tackle from where he was early on at end. He's got some added size, he's a litt stronger and has benefitted with his time with Larry (Johnson)."
The other redshirt freshman that has posed challenges is Abe Koroma. "This guy is like freight train," one observer explained. "Look there's a lot of guys who a just big in this game, but the difference between the good and great ones are how they use that size. Abe lunges, he launches his size, but it's controlled. Anyone can throw their body, but a smart linemen will step aside and let you fall on your face. He controls his power pretty well."
One big collision is when you see A.Q. Shipley line up with some of these defensive tackles like Koroma or Phillip Taylor. "They're all hyper-competitive and massive. I was talking to one guy and he made a great comparison. Ever seen the Discovery Channel where the two rams go full speed with their horns down and collide into each other. When you see Koroma and Q (Shipley) matchup it's worth the price of admission."
Taylor is not as mobile as Koroma, but he's "a bit more nimble over last year. He's physique is improved and helps him carry that size better. I don't know what to say, they are working on Phil's technique, but even just his size alone demands a double team. Trust me, Q is about as strong as they come, but he's got to put his back into it with a guy like Phil." Taylor's are has to work on that control Koroma tends to have. "If Phil hits you square on, goodnight, but if an assignment sidesteps him takes an angle on the engagement Phil's size can work against him."
The preseason practice content is flying around here at FOS. To help you keep track of it all here is a running list of the practice reports we have around the site:
Nittany Notes: Kickin' It
In Focus: Dan Connor
In Focus: Austin Scott
Nittany Notes: Drill 6 WR Report
In Focus: Derrick Williams
Nittany Notes: Power Line (OL)
Follow Up OL Player Notes
Nittany Notes: Position Battles
Nittany Notes: Opening Day Notes
Preseason Kickoff (Schedule, Plan)
Stay tuned to FOS for continuing exclusive reports on PSU's preseason practices.