Nittany Notes: Secondary Protocol

With the 2008 season nearly here, see how the defensive back lineup and depth has shaken up in our most recent exclusive Nittany Notes practice report.

With the close of preseason and the kickoff of the 2008 season on the horizon, the coaches have all but set the starting lineups for Coastal Carolina.

Penn State released its official Week 1 depth chart Monday. But we hearing the secondary is shaping up quite a bit differently than what is listed there.

Here is what our observers are telling us:


CB: Tony Davis, Lydell Sargeant
SS: Mark Rubin, Knowledge Timmons, Tyler Ahrenhold
FS: Anthony Scirrotto, Drew Astorino, Cedric Jeffries
CB: A.J. Wallace, D'Anton Lynn

Here are some observer assessments of these players:

Davis: "Tony's so excited to be back at corner. I think it's a more comfortable position for him," one observer explained. "Playing safety seems to have helped him understand when he has help with his coverage. This, along with his leadership, should add a lot to the [secondary] unit."

Sargeant: Observers point to Sargeant's speed as his major asset, "and his take-down [tackling] technique has improved." As one observer said, "He's better off the line, but has to play catch-up at times when he bites on move [the receiver] uses."

Rubin: "Mark's been tough. He's a bit bigger and has a better handle on the role," an observer explained. "He still has to focus on trusting his instincts to get a jump on the play, though."

Astorino: Astorino saw a significant number of first-team reps in the preseason, some at Rubin's spot. "I expect Drew to see reps in the rotation. He hits like a ton of bricks and has picked up the positions quickly," one observer said. Astorino is dealing with what appears to be some sort of pulled muscle in the stomach area. It prevented him from nailing down the starting job opposite Scirrotto.

Scirrotto: Scirrotto has been "all business," this preseason. The one certain starter in the secondary, he has worked extensively with the younger defensive backs (like Astorino) on improving their games.

Jeffries: "He's definitely gotten more physical," according to one observer. "But he's got to make the zone transitions and pick-ups more smoothly."

Wallace: Despite some lingering hamstring issues, Wallace is "the guy the other DBs look to emulate." As another observer said, "He has the ability to make it look effortless out there. He has better control of his speed and has really stepped up to fill in the void Justin [King] left."

Lynn: "Lynn is really at an impressive level already," one observer explained. "He's physical, but beyond that he reads his assignment well on the route. He needs to continue to get his transition footwork down, but he gets off the line pretty smooth. He's show a lot of potential already."


Timmons saw the bulk of first-team reps at nickel through most of preseason drills. Ahrenhold also stepped in to get backup work in the role.

However, recently, with Davis nailing down a first-team corner position, Sargeant shifted over to see more nickle work in the last week or so.

"Knowledge and Sarge are duking it out right now," one observer said. "Ahrenhold is making progress there, so I think there is some depth for the package — which is readily used in [Tom] Bradley's scheme."

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