Spring Ball Kicks Off

Penn State kicked off spring practice with a squad meeting Monday morning. Get an update on the early goings and see what is in store for the Nittany Lions as they get into the swing of spring ball.

Penn State football kicked off spring practice Monday with a 6:30 a.m. full squad meeting to review the team's schedule and approach.

The team will re-gather in Holuba Hall at about 4 p.m. for a "light" practice in shorts, helmets and shirts.

Though the weather in Happy Valley is mild, the session will be held indoors because the outdoor field "is still a bit rough — wet and yucky," one observer said.

The practice will feature "light drills," as another observer described, many of which are one-on-one sets with a lot of time focused on fundamentals, agility and the read-react skills of the players.

In case you have not heard, the media will NOT have a chance to talk to Coach Joe Paterno or his players on the first day of spring ball.

While there may or may not be a press conference later in the week, you can be sure of this: during the spring, Penn State will be locked down tighter than any other major college football program.

Fortunately, die-hard Nittany Lion fans have a way of gaming the system. With FightOnState.com's exclusive Nittany Notes reports, our program "observers" keep us up to speed with what is going on. And we report that information to our Total Access Pass members via stories and in our premium forum.

Early Assessments

"Today the [coaches] are assessing what they have to work with — reviewing how each player has progressed or regressed through the winter sets," one observer explained. "The past few years they have eased into things and use the first couple of days to assess where the guys are and what needs to be done for the rest of the off-season to get them to where they need to be."

As was the case is spring practices in recent years, the coaching staff is expected to increase the intensity of the practices throughout the course of the spring sessions, which include 15 practices.

"[The staff] will dial up things in each practice," another observer said. "Part of it is to ease them in and the other reason is that they want the guys chomping at the bit for contact. It gets them anxious and fired up. A few guys like Sean [Lee], Q [Shipley] and Evan [Royster] are already asking when contact drills start."

Lineman Drills

The defensive front seven will work on one-on-one drills to open up practice and they also will "work in some footwork agility drills," an observer said.

"On both sides of the ball the [coaches] are assessing what they need to focus on with each lineman," and observer said. "Some guys need work on their stance and will work set-snap technique. Other guys are all footwork. Some guys are hands or strength. I'd say most will have two or three major areas the coaches will focus on with them though."

Among the early drills the offensive linemen will work are basic assignment sets where the player drops into his stance and will either shift to block his zone left or right, simulating a run play, pull left or right or drop to pass block.

The defensive player matched against them must anticipate and react to what the offensive lineman is doing and counter his motion. The defensive coaches will focus on these drills to review the technique and weak points of each lineman.

Passing Drills

On the offensive side of the ball the passing unit will work on route running and timing drills. They will generally open with "lineup drills," where each receiver will run through a variety of routes. "This early work displays timing and allows the coaches to see if the receivers are hitting the post correctly or breaking at the right points," as one observer shared.

The coaches have a strong focus on the younger players, but will also spend time determining how to elevate the play of the veterans. "Mike [McQueary] is really looks at [receivers] like [Derek] Moye and [Brett] Brackett, but he'll also get into Deon [Butler] and Jordan's [Norwood] ear on various aspects of their technique."

Practice Schedule

This weeks practice schedule will feature a variety of sessions, including shell drills, full-pad sessions and possibly a scrimmage. This week's practice schedule is as follows:

Monday: Shell Session (shorts, helmets, no pads)
Tuesday: Off Day
Wednesday: Shell Session
Thursday: Off Day
Friday: Full Pad Session (contact drills)
Saturday: Full Pad Session (possible scrimmage).

Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for unmatched spring practice coverage.

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