If there is one Penn State player who has taken charge in the wake of the 37-17 loss to Ohio State, it's junior linebacker Sean Lee, according to the observers. "[The coaches] pulled Sean aside this week and told him he's the guy who they are looking to now to get the team focused," one observer said. "Sean and Dan Connor are very close and he's been on guys to push to send the seniors out with a home win. But it's really for what Dan has done for him."
Connor, a senior, has been incredibly intense this week in practice. "He's taken the blame for the defensive failures [against OSU], which has really set the example for the younger guys," another observer told us. "The offense should be taking notes."
Approach & Attitude
The defensive players have "practiced their hearts out this week," one observer explained. "They are a proud group and are ashamed of what happened [against OSU]. With the coaches and players in that unit, you have a lot of reflection going on and they are digging deep to right the unit."
Even the younger players are getting into the mix, with Maurice Evans, Abe Koroma and Chris Colasanti becoming "vocal at times." As another observer said, "These guys look to the veterans who flat out lead by example and they try to mimic that. I think that is why you see so many guys grab the reigns once the veterans graduate year after year."
It is a different story on offense, though. "You just don't have that kind of 'lead the charge' veteran," an observer explained. "Maybe [center] A.Q. Shipley, to some degree. But he does it with the line. [Tailback] Rodney Kinlaw is pretty quiet, [receiver]Terrell Golden doesn't have the lead by example ability, [quarterback Anthony] Morelli is focused more on his own game."
The offensive line has gelled in recent weeks according to observers. "They have turned the corner and really seem to enjoy being with each other," one observer said. "Shipley's communication adjustments have been taking into account the guard play — he understands his guards' abilities and adjusts to their tendencies. They understand each other. The fact that you basically have the line back next year could be a big factor in how fast this offense comes along."
Because of their improved play, the offensive linemen were said to be confused and frustrated when PSU went away from the running game against Ohio State. "On the two drives where Rod [Kinlaw] was the center point and had four plus carries, [the team] scored (a touchdown and field goal). On every other drive they used Rod sparingly and came away with nothing."