Practice: Observations & Opinions

Get a first-hand account of Penn State's Saturday practice and scrimmage as Scott Cole takes you into the drills and scrimmage work and provides his detailed opinions and observations of the event.

Stay tuned for a series of updates detailing what happened on Saturday in practice. We will have other updates with Drill 6 and 11-on-11 play-by-play reviews. Here are some general impressions from what I saw today.

1. A.J. Wallace has become a much more aggressive cornerback. He was making quick breaks on out routes, intercepting one and almost picking off another. He also showed more physicality than we have seen in the past. He was not afraid to stick his nose in there on running plays.

2. Bani Gbadyu looked very comfortable filling in for Sean Lee at OLB. He was all over the place making plays in 11-on-11. His speed allows him to go sideline-to-sideline with no trouble. I'd be surprised if he doesn't see a lot of action this fall despite playing behind Lee.

3. Derek Moye looked like the real deal. His size created problems for every CB who tried to cover him. He has soft hands as he made grabs deep down the sideline where he badly beat Wallace and over the middle on a slant, both from Devlin.

He was sidelined part way through the practice with what looked to be some kind of muscle strain. A trainer was wrapping Moye's left thigh and then continued the wrap up around his right hip and back down. I won't speculate what kind of injury it was, but I got the impression it wasn't serious.

4. Seeing Stephfon Green's speed in person, it's no wonder why he was the talk of the foreign team last year. His 45-yard jaunt on the first time he touched the ball in 11-on-11 had the assembled media in attendance oohing and aahing. He took the handoff, headed toward the right guard hole, then saw an opening further out, cut on a dime and was into the secondary in the blink of an eye.

Anthony Scirrotto looked like he had a good angle on Green to make a tackle about 15-20 past the line of scrimmage, but Green blew by him and almost scored a touchdown on the play.

5. Once the defensive line has a full compliment of players, they will be scary good. I was very impressed with Abe Koroma in particular today. During offensive line/defensive line drills, he proved very difficult to block for the 1st team OL. Dennis Landolt did a nice job of containing Koroma on a stunt on the first snap I watched, but Koroma cleanly beat A.Q. Shipley on the next snap, leaving Shipley shaking his head and looking to the ceiling.

Koroma is an imposing figure and should provide the interior pass rush that is so critical to Penn State's defensive scheme.

Chima Okoli stood out among the 2nd team DTs. He is 6'5" 280 according to Joe at today's press conference. Okoli has a very quick first step and disrupted a number of plays throughout the practice.

Ogbu has a good motor and doesn't give up on a play. He prevented Joe Suhey from breaking a huge gain on a well-developed screen pass by diving and making a trip tackle 10 yards down the field. It was a play that drew praise from just about all the coaches nearby.

6. It's not hard to see why the linebacking corps is so good each year. Ron Vanderlinden is very much a teacher in the way he conducts drills. He never raises his voice. He merely points out what a player did wrong and explains how to correct the problem in future. He takes a very positive approach to coaching, preferring to pump a kid up rather than kick him in the butt.

In addition, I noticed both Sean Lee and Tyrell Sales helping Bani Gbadyu and Nate Stupar when their group was not up in the rotation. Sales was showing Stupar how to complete his drops into coverage better. It's this kind of mentoring that shows up on Saturdays when guys get their first chances to play.

7. As for the quarterbacks, I have to say this looks like a true quarterback competition. Clark and Devlin basically got an equal number of snaps running the 1st team offense. When one ran the first team, the other ran the second team.

This was my first time seeing Pat Devlin throw a football in person and I was impressed with not only the touch he showed, but the arm strength as well. The ball does not float out there. It has zip on it, but is also a very catchable ball. That's not an easy combination to make happen.

Daryll Clark is much more of a strong armed passer. He overthrew targets several times. The receiving corps will probably be reminded of the bullets Michael Robinson used to throw.

Devlin really shined in Drill 6 where he hit just about every pass you could ask a quarterback to make. He connected on two long throws down the left sideline to Derek Moye and Deon Butler and also hit several crossing routes and slants over the middle in addition to the standard PSU 5 yard out route.

However, once the team went to 11-on-11, Devlin did not fare as well. He and Clark took turns running the first team offense and Devlin had trouble making throws under pressure. He often threw the ball at his receiver's feet while trying to escape the pass rush.

Clark was the only QB to lead his team to a TD in 11-on-11 drills as he took the 1st team down the field for a score at the beginning of 11-on-11s with a TD pass over the middle to Brett Brackett and another leading the 2nd team offense late in the practice on a dump pass to Joe Suhey. He showed much better touch during this session than he did in Drill 6 despite pressure coming towards him.

8. On the injury front, Jared Odrick participated in some light non-contact drills. He is wearing a green cross at practice. Devon Still had a red cross on and didn't do anything today.

Derrick Williams got his bell rung during Drill 6 when Clark threw a pass behind him on a crossing route and Chris Colasanti slammed him to the turf. Williams' helmet looked like the first thing to hit the ground and he was groggy for a few minutes before returning later in the practice to participate in 11-on-11 drills. Colasanti went over to Williams and gave him a fist bump after Williams got back to the sideline as if to say "Sorry about that. No hard feelings."

9. Joe Paterno was very active during the practice. His loud nasally Brooklyn accent could be heard through out Holuba Hall. He focused mainly on the Drill 6 and 11-on-11 drills and was correcting some things he didn't like. Chris Colasanti got a particularly harsh earful from Paterno after the Clark to Brackett TD in 11-on-11. Paterno came running up to Colasanti and said "You think you're a tough guy? I haven't seen you hit anyone today! You're playing like a little girl!"

Obviously, this was a motivational tactic since Colasanti had laid out Derrick Williams while Paterno was watching earlier in the day. Colasanti did respond however and the 2nd defensive unit did not allow another score.

Stay tuned to for unmatched, unique coverage of Penn State football and spring practice.


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