Nittany Notes: Scrimmage

With the season quickly approaching, the Nittany Lions held what is expected to be their final scrimmage of the preseason on Wednesday. See what interesting developments came from the session and which key player was sidelined for the event. We also focus on the running back position.

Injury Update

Penn State has sustained its share of injuries this preseason, particularly on the defensive line with Phillip Taylor recovering from a knee sprain, Jed Hill being sidelined with an ankle injury and freshman defensive lineman Devon Still sustaining an ACL tear, which is expected to force him to redshirt.

Unfortunately, Larry Johnson's unit sustained another blow in Wednesday's practice as multiple observers said Abe Koroma was spotted on crutches at the end of the day's scrimmage session and he remained on them Thursday morning. We are working to confirm the exact nature and extent of the issue.

Other injuries of impact include center Ross Muir (knee) and rookie tight end Jon Ditto (shoulder).

Scrimmage Notes

Wednesday's scrimmage session saw "the guys putting more into it" to make up for the "ragged" morning practice of the two-a-day session which upset head coach Joe Paterno.

The first-team offense "put together some good drives." In fact, on the opening drive it scored a touchdown in a mere five plays. "They came out sharp," one observer said.

The offense seemed to focus on establishing the ground game in the scrimmage. As one observer told us, "We ran the ball a good amount yesterday," with Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw splitting the bulk of the first-team backfield reps. "Austin and Rod looked sharp. Rod came out better than he has looked in other practices." Redshirt freshman Evan Royster also saw a handful of first-team snaps.

Observers are split on who the leading freshman tailback is at this point with some feeling Royster's size allows him to run more consistently between the tackles. But true freshman Stephfon Green's pure speed has others pointing squarely at him. As one observer said, "Steph is fast — his top gear is out of control. But you need more to be the lead guy. You can't expect to just outrun everybody down after down."

Another freshman back who had a few observers buzzing was Joe Suhey. As one observer shared, "Joe Suhey is pretty good, he had a few good runs out there. I didn't expect for him to be as quick or shifty. He's not small though. He looks about 6-[foot]-1 and moved. I am not sure he can do that against the first team, but he got me interested in seeing what he can do down the road."

Back to the anticipated starters, a few observers feel that Scott and Kinlaw will both see a consistent set of reps in games. "I can't predict the split [of carries] well into the year, although Austin is built for more carries," one observer explained. "But I think in the first game they will get close to equal reps so they can each have their shot to show they should be the guy."

Big Plays

  • Redshirt freshman wideout Brett Brackett made a big 12-yard catch and then powered his way for another 10 yards in the early drive. "He's so hard to pull down," an observer said.

  • QB Anthony Morelli hit WR Jordan Norwood on a 15-yard curl, which he "pulled around full circle and shot off for another 12 or so yards."

  • Scott broke open a nice 35-yard off-tackle run early in the session. "He put on a nice shoulder juke and just side-stepped into the free lane."

  • Royster showed of his blocking ability, "keeping Navorro Bowman off Daryll Clark," allowing him to hit Terrell Golden on an "18-yard hitch route" to the wing for a first down.

    Other Notes

  • With Taylor and Koroma out the starting defensive tackles are Ollie Ogbu (NT) and Jared Odrick (DT). Ogbu had a "solid day" on the line and "both were a good duo on the pocket."

  • The first-team offensive line "took charge" of several drives, but needs to "work on their consistency with shifting the pocket." Center A.Q. Shipley in particular was "very animated" in the scrimmage, instructing the variouis linemen on their roles in certain line shifts.

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