Despite what the "official" depth chart says, practice insiders feel that Rich Ohrnberger will start and see the bulk of reps at left guard this Saturday. As one observer said, "Lou Eliades has come on strong, but Rich has been seeing most of the reps recently [in practice]."
What is the status of Phillip Taylor?
Back from a knee sprain, Taylor continues to see practice reps at defensive tackle this week, although "it's looking like they may rest him [Saturday] unless they feel they need him."
The knock against Taylor is his endurance. As one observer said, "He plays rabid, but his technique breaks down when he loses his stamina. He needs the reps to get the endurance square."
What is up with the tight end situation?
Mickey Shuler continues to see the bulk of first-team reps in practice as Andrew Quarless has been relegated to the dog house. "He has shown decent hands," one observer said of Shuler. "He pulls them in, but he also has sloppy streaks. Surprisingly, they have not worked his blocking too much."
As for Quarless, he is seeing scout reps at tight end and even some limited defensive end work. No one doubts Joe Paterno will stick to his benching of the starting tight end for the time being. "I'd be surprised if he saw a snap this weekend. Is anyone really expecting that [to happen]?" one observer said.
What is the situation at defensive end currently?
Although the PSU depth chart lists the starters as Josh Gaines and Aaron Maybin, observers indicate that Maybin has been in for "situational schemes," but Maurice Evans has "seen a lot of first-team work."
According to one observer, "Mo played in 12 games last year and is a monster off the corner. I am not taking anything away from Aaron, he's [good], but Mo is Mo, man. The guy is textbook."
Will Stephfon Green see any action this Saturday?
Barring injury, the speedy true freshman tailback is expected to redshirt, according to an observer.
Even so, Green has been worked in on a few situational packages. "They have used him on the run and pass at times," one observer said. The idea is to keep him sharp in the event injuries take a toll at running back.
As another observer said, "If you don't need him, put the redshirt on. He'll still get a lot of valuable practice time and get better and most importantly pick up the playbook and add some size."
Is the team preparing for Notre Dame?
Yes and no. No observer will step up and say that the team is preparing for the Irish (who come calling in week No. 2), tossing out the cliches like "one game at a time" and "focus on the current task." But the defense has spent a lot of time focusing on stopping the run. "The safeties and 'backers have been working a good deal on plugging holes."
That's an interesting approach while preparing for an FIU team that ranked No. 117 nationally in rush offense last season.