Nittany Notes: Focusing on the Option

Catch another one of FightOnState.com's exclusive, in-depth practice reports right here. What is the focus of the defense? What injury is the offense dealing with now? What was the decision behind playing Chris Colasanti? Find out.

Exercising Options

The defensive side of the ball has seen more work against the option this week in preparation for Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis. "The [defensive coaches] have been preaching assignment football this week," one observer said. "The [defensive] front players have worked a lot of assignment drills this week and the coaches are on them hard to stick with their assignments." Lewis and the Indiana backfield run a lot o of option and "it's all about containment and control."

The linebackers and defensive ends have really seen a lot of work in this area. "The fast ends and 'backers have to have a grip on the weak side of the field," an observer explained. "There's potentially a lot of open space to find a lane, so getting Aaron Maybin, Maurice Evans and Sean Lee to stick to their assignments will be critical. They are working on getting them to corral the ball carrier and escort him out to the sideline."

In a Rush

Lee continues to help where needed, with added reps that have him line up "near the trench." As one observer told us, "Seany is so fast, but more importantly, he is even more disciplined. He really wraps up on a target, which is what they will need to get Lewis. Even if he misses him, he is likely to get a paw on him and slow him down to allow the support to make a play."

The defense is particularly focused on managing its over-pursuits. "Aaron's [Maybin] aggression gets the better of him at times. Unfortunately, we don't have a scout QB who can come remotely close to what the Hoosier QB can do."

Line Tangles

After having what was arguably its best game of the season in a win over Wisconsin, the offensive line suffered a blow after guard Mike Lucian was diagnosed with a concussion after the big win.

"Mike has a concussion," one observer told us. "[The coaches] have held him out of practice this week and he's likely not going to see action against [Indiana]."

In his absence, John Shaw and Stefen Wisniewski have been rotating and splitting first-team reps. The sentiment among observers we spoke with is that Lucian should be available for the Ohio State game next week.

Cola-santi Wars

There was a lot of debate among the coaches about whether to play Chris Colasanti this season. In the end the need for special teams support and the impressive play of Colasanti allowed the true freshman to come out of his redshirt against Wisconsin.

According to one practice observer, "[The kickoff coverage unit] is ranked 111th right now, giving up almost 26 yards per return. Chris has been nothing but impressive since he stepped on campus and he has shown a knack for being quick despite his big (234 pound) frame. He's out there as a wedge-buster — the guy who tears into the wall of run blockers and disrupts the returner so he has to shift direction. It's basically a job to create chaos and help open things up for the gunners."

Will Colasanti see linebacker reps this season? "I'd suspect that's part of the plan," the observer said. "He is still grasping the playbook, but with Dan [Connor] out next year [the coaches] seem to feel he could be one of those early impact guys to step in and make a name for himself. We'll see."

Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for more exclusive Nittany Notes practice reports.

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