Penn State had a low-key practice Monday, in part because head coach Joe Paterno was a bit late for the session.
While much of the Nittany Nation was blasting the coach and his son, PSU QB's coach Jay Paterno, for the offense's poor performance in the 14-9 loss at Michigan Saturday, the Paterno family was dealing with a more serious issue.
Joe Paterno's mother-in-law, Alma Pohland of Latrobe, Pa., passed away last Wednesday. The viewing was held Sunday in Latrobe and the funeral was held Monday in the same town.
Both Joe and Jay Paterno were in the all-important coaches' meetings Sunday.
Practice observers have said all season that Joe Paterno has been particularly charged up in the sessions this year. Predictably, he was much more reserved Monday.
Also note that on Mondays, Penn State eases into the practice week, only wearing tops (shoulder pads, helmets and shorts) with no serious hitting.
Tuesday brings a full-pads workout with hitting. So expect the intensity level to be raised significantly.
BACKFIELD IN MOTION?
Penn State starting tailback Austin Scott has four fumbles on 57 carries this season. He lost the ball in the third quarter of the loss to Michigan, handing it back to the Wolverines at their own 9-yard line. PSU never recovered from the gaff and Scott spent the rest of the day on the bench.
But if Scott is out as the starter, it was not evident at Monday's practice. Observers said it was business as usual in the backfield, with Scott and Kinlaw both wearing the light blue jersey indicating the first-teamer. Both players have been wearing the light blue all season.
Scott appeared to be getting most of the first-team snaps, though.
It's all status quo, an observer said.
NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
Likewise, the only change of note to the starting lineup is perfunctory — sophomore tight end Andrew Quarless is back in light blue this week and is apparently completely out of Paterno's doghouse.
Quarless missed State's first two games due to an off-field incident, and was technically the second-teamer against Buffalo and Michigan, behind Mickey Shuler. This even though he saw the majority of snaps vs. the Wolverines.
Meanwwhile, sources have told us that Paterno considered pulling Anthony Morelli for at least a series in the second quarter at Michigan because the senior quarterback was struggling (the coach was talked out of it). On Monday, however, Morelli was the only QB wearing light blue.
For the Penn State football team, Monday is usually not a big day as far as hitting is concerned. But it is important to the players because it is when they find out whether they've made any headway on the depth chart.
The staff meets every Sunday following games, and at the time often decides what — if any — adjustments will be made to the depth chart. Sometimes players are told of the changes. Sometimes they don't learn of promotions or demotions until they show up for practice Monday and see their color-coded jersey.
In any event, during the season, most changes to the depth chart NOT related to injuries happen Monday.
If they happen, it will be today, an observer told us Monday.