NITTANY NOTES: 'Cuse Prep

Get an update on news and notes concerning the team as its prepares for its first road test of the 2008 season.

As Penn State prepares to clash with Syracuse, the team is starting to take on a attitude of "what could be this season," as one observer put it.

"What's the old saying? Success is the best deodorant," one observer said. "There's been a buzz since the spring about what this [team] could become, but Anthony [Scirrotto] was the first to stand up and verbalize it."

For those who may have missed our earlier report, Scirrotto got up in front of the team after the Oregon State win and addressed his teammates. "He just said this team has the ability to do something great — for the school, for the fans, for the program, the coaches and themselves, and they had an obligation to focus to fulfill that potential," one observer said. "He is not a vocal guy typically, but what he said really resonated with the rest [of the team]."

Suspension Update

There has some confusion over the last 24 hours after The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Abe Koroma and Maurice Evans were back practicing this week.

However, our sources say neither player practiced Tuesday.

As one observer explained, "I wouldn't expect to see them back [for game action] for maybe three weeks — maybe right before the Big Ten opener — Illinois. That is Coach [Paterno's] decision, but they are still MIA from practice."

Offensive Notes:

The offensive line has been working a lot on fundamentals this week. "They have the linemen working a lot of two-one drills (two-on-one blocking work)," an observer explained. "There's an expectation Syracuse is going to toss out a lot of blitzes to pressure the pocket — they are trying to get them to work on picking up the surge to give [QB Daryll Clark] time."

Along the same lines, the offense has been working on a lot of "protection shifts." Another observer explained this saying, "[Clark] has not had to audible and I doubt he needs to against Syracuse. But the are calling shifts in the protection. That is where the quarterback recognizes the blitz or extra man and pulls over added blocking, so he'll keep the tight end in or shift over the running back — you can see this done against Oregon State."

Center A.Q. Shipley has also been working with the offensive line to help with this protection. "They are working to help Clark out there; they've really connected," an observer said. "So Q is getting the guys to call out surge points more. So Clark will step in and you hear a lot of talk on the line — like 'gap one, gap one' — and that helps him to shift the protection over to the right spot. Clark needs this help until he really starts picking up the reads, but he's coming along and this helps him."

More to Show?

In terms of the offensive playbook "they are working a lot of sets I doubt you see until Big Ten play," an observer said. That does not mean they are taking Syracuse lightly, though. As another observer said, "Joe is constantly preaching 'This is a rivalry' and 'They are dying to kick your teeth in.' He's nervous the guys will let up because of the records of the next few teams."

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