Penn State got back into practice on Friday after almost a week off from drills due to coaching staff travels. As we reported earlier this week, the entire staff was in New York at Joe Paterno's Hall Of Fame gala on Monday and Tuesday, with several coaches heading out on recruiting visits Wednesday through Friday.
After a week of extra running, weight workouts and film sessions, the squad "got to focus on A&M." However, the week was not without incident. During one of the running sessions staffers were on defensive tackle Phillip Taylor to increase his pace. Taylor, apparently frustrated, "grabbed his coat and left the session." As one observer put it, "[John Thomas] was absolutely livid."
Friday the team saw some practice reps as the linemen got in some 1v1 and 2v2 work, the wideouts and receivers got in some "ball management" drills and the special teams coverage unit worked some pursuit drills.
"They worked some basics today — Rod [Kinlaw] and Evan [Royster] worked some of the rust off with some runs and the [offensive] line got some assignment work in. The defensive line — Abe [Koroma], Mo [Evans] and company — got some rip/swim and snap work in, too. [Saturday] they'll start working in more of the foundation for the game plan for the bowl," one observer explained.
As we first reported on Thursday, safeties coach Brian Norwood is departing Penn State to serve as defensive coordinator for Baylor. At the time it was not clear if Norwood would stay with the Nittany Lions through their Dec. 29 game against Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl or if he would leave for Baylor sooner. He reportedly told Paterno that he will do whatever the PSU head coach thought was best for everyone.
On the FOS TAP Forum Friday, we reported that Kermit Buggs received something of a field promotion. According to several observers, he was working with the safeties in practice. Buggs had been Penn State's coordinator of player personnel and development.
We are not sure if this promotion is permanent or was just done so PSU had the full complement of coaches for the Alamo Bowl. However, with Buggs now handling the safeties, Norwood obviously won't be with the Lions for the bowl game.
Scouting San Antone
While nearly everyone else associated with the Penn State football program spent the early part of this week in New York for Paterno's Hall of Fame induction, associate athletic director for football administration Fran Ganter and director of football operations Tom Venturino were in San Antonio, scouting the city and facilities well in advance of the team's arrival later this month.
Venturino reported back to athletic director Tim Curley at the latter's office in the Jordan Center Thursday afternoon, and had a bit of bad news.
Penn State's bowl-assigned team hotel in San Antonio, the Marriott Riverwalk, is undergoing a major renovation. Marriott is pouring $45 million into upgrades to the Riverwalk property and its nearby Rivercenter property, and the construction is not expected to be complete until early- to mid-2008.
There are preliminary concerns that the construction could impact the team's ability to set up shop and easily move around the hotel.
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