Saturday was a big day for Penn State football on a few fronts. First, the team continued its spring practice schedule with its eighth overall session and its fifth in full pads.
The scrimmage also allowed the team to showcase its talent and approach to a variety of Class of 2009 prospects who were in attendance for the team's second Junior Day event of the spring. See our previous Junior Day Report for more on the event.
Penn State once again got bitten by the injury bug. Last week we broke the news that safety Nick Sukay is dealing with a broken bone in his foot and currently is sidelined with an immobilization boot to help the injury heal.
This time it is A.J. Wallace. According to several observers, the injury occured in a "simple 1v1 contact" passing drill Friday. Wallace was in coverage on the drill and "collided with the wideout" after a pass. Apparently Wallace did not fasten his chin-strap for the drill.
As one observer said, "When the contact was made, Wallace's helmet appeared to shift up on his head, exposing his chin as they came down." Observers believe he had a mouth guard in and mentioned it may have "popped out" during the collision.
As another observer said, "He just got up holding his mouth. He walked straight [off the practice field] to the bathroom." The exact nature of the injury is not clear, however he lost several teeth from the collision and did not practice Saturday.
- Linebacker Sean Lee, who has seen limited reps at times due to a lingering hamstring injury, saw some first-team reps on Saturday, primarily on the outside. But "he got some limited snaps in the middle," an observers reported. "He was probably just stepping in. They want him familiar there if they ever need him."
- The offensive line "had a pretty good day and had some nice [running lane] seals." The first-team unit was primarily:
Stephfen Wisniewski also saw first-team reps at right guard and Lou Eliades "got to step in for a few" in the left guard position.
- The defensive line saw position coach Larry Johnson "test the rotation." As one observer said, "It's not just about subbing guys in and out. It's about combinations. How do these two guys work together?" Here is how the rotation two deep was set for much of the session:
Latimore in particular got some strong words of praise from Saturday's practice. "L.J. sees a ton of ability in Eric and wants to get him some extra work to [solidify] his play some more," one observer said. Latimore and Koroma "were really a force on the strong side. He and Evans could be a great speed package from the corners," according to another observer. "Eric was able to really disrupt the pocket with the huge load he throws off the line."
- Evan Royster had "some fantastic runs [Saturday]." As one observer said, "He ripped off a few great runs. On one he took a nice outside cut and had a big collision with [linbacker Josh] Hull. What's impressive about Evan is that he sees the hit coming, lowers himself and lunges to get that forward surge to pick up the extra yard."
- Stephfon Green was "bottled" up, meaning "no 50-yard runs today. The defense has adjusted its lane coverage to contain those [long runs]." Green had two 20-yard pickups though. On one in particular, "he showed some creativity. Steph was on an outside toss from the single-back set. He made the corner, where he saw the linebacker waiting and made a nice stop-start cut inside for some yardage."
Stephfon Green and Nate Stupar
- The coaches also got some "focal work" in for the tight ends concerning their blocking basics. "[Mickey] Shuler has been working with [Andrew] Szczerba in this area," according to one observer. "If [Szczerba] can get his blocking down, which is actually improving, he could really make an impact [this coming season]. He's great with the ball, he just needs get his role down when he's not handling it."
- Quarterback Pat Devlin "was sharp today," and "had some nice releases." As one observer explained, "Pat was in sync with the [offensive] line. [During his first-team work] he was working with Q [Shipley] and the guards, talking with them to strengthen up some break points the [defensive] tackles were getting through." Devlin hit a variety of receivers like Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler, Brett Brackett and Graham Zug. "He worked more on the intermediate routes — slants and hitches — rather than the long balls. He had a couple nice passes, hitting Butler and Zug for nice gains."
- On the same note, Zug "is starting to pull it all together." With "soft hands" and his 6-foot-2, 176-pound frame "hhe provides a good target." According to one observer, "He still needs get better getting off the line and using his body to create that reception window, but he did well today."
- Daryll Clark also got first-team work in on Saturday. "[The coaches] were working his progression today. They were running some snaps out of the spread trying to get him to really scan the field." According to observers, Clark also got to "work his releases and timing." One interesting observation on him has been about his ball delivery. "When you are running plays out of a designed scheme, the [quarterback] has a set time to see the routes develop and decide whether to pass or run. Daryll hesitates at times and sometimes waits too long, like he wants to pass." As a side note, this is why the team often run Drill 6 reps with the timed tone to "get the mental clock going for the QB."
- Kevin Kelly and Collin Wagner got to kick in their first "live drills" outside this season and worked on their range on Saturday. "It was tough," according to one observer."[Kelly] hit the ball pretty well, but it was cold and windy." Kelly is working on his consistency to "expand his range." As an aside, probably due to the poor weather conditions, Jeremy Boone's punt period was cut from the practice.
Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for continuing exclusive, original coverage of Penn State football and spring practice.