The Nittany Lions' 2007 season is just hours away and the squad has put the final touches on its game preparations for Saturday's kickoff against Florida International. See how the players and coaches closed out their final preparations this week.
On Thursday the Penn State football team closed out its game week practices for the Florida International clash Saturday in Beaver Stadium. Friday the team will conduct a walk-through in the afternoon and participate in the Football Eve pep rally later in the evening.
Here are some news and notes on the squad as its wraps up preparations for the 2007 season kickoff:
Thursday's practice session was "intense at times" with some fights breaking out between players. As one observer put it, "The starting linemen were fired up on both sides of the ball. Jared Odrick got into it with some of the foreign team [offensive] linemen and so did Maurice Evans." A.Q. Shipley, Rich Ohrnberger and Gerald Cadogan were also "fired up" during the session.
Evans saw a good amount of first-team defensive end work on Thursday opposite Josh Gaines. Aaron Maybin also stepped in for "situational reps." They are also trying out Jerome Hayes at end as an "experiment." Observers feel that, despite was is portrayed on the official depth chart, Evans is "too good to keep off the field." As one observer said, "Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Mo see a ton of time last year in pretty much every game?"
Ohrnberger saw the left guard reps with the first-team unit with Lou Eliades as "backup." Observers expect Ohrnberger to be the lead guy in the position early on for the line, but continue to be impressed by Eliades' play.
On one play Derrick Williams took a pitch and got "lit up" by scout team freshman linebacker Chris Colasanti. "Oh yeah, [Colasanti] found the angle on him and just unleashed it," another observer said.
Shipley, apparently not pleased with the play, hit Colasanti with both hands in response. As one observer explained, "Q was [upset] and just hit him in the head with both hands." Colasanti had his helmet on and Shipley reportedly took the shot open-handed. Colasanti, not backing down, was held back by the other defensive players. The coaches in turn really laid into Shipley. "He was lucky Joe [Paterno] wasn't around for it," one observer said. "But can you imagine those two going at it? I love the fire."
Williams, incidentally, appeared to be fine from the hit.
Despite the skirmish involving Shipley, observers like the attitude the offensive line is brining it practice. "They have been flat-out mean and, believe it or not, that helps their game," according to one observer.
In an interesting twist, freshman offensive linemen Stefen Wisniewski saw some second-team work at center this week, backing up Shipley.
Chris Bell and Anthony Morelli have "played some nice pitch and catch" in drills this week. Bell has shown a propensity to "box out the coverage." He was more consistent with his receptions as the preseason has progressed. "Bell looks good," one observer said. "I think he's ready," another observer shared.
Observers have been commenting on Mickey Shuler's increased endurance at tight end since he has stepped in with the first team for Andrew Quarless in recent weeks. According to someone close to the Shuler family, he underwent a sinus procedure earlier this summer which opened up his breathing. "He's been running much better than last season," one observer said.
As we reported earlier in the week, Joe Paterno has been working on his running at the close of practices. He is expected to run out with the team on Saturday and be on the sideline during the game.
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