Nittany Notes: Orange Crush

With the season's first road game on tap, excitement is growing and tempers are flaring at Penn State. See what is going via our Nittany Notes report.

The Penn State players are putting the final touches on their game plan for Syracuse; their first road game for 2008. "[The players] are pretty excite over this one," an observer explained. "The coaches have talked all week about the rivalry and tradition of this game. A lot of guys are excited to play in a dome and there is a lot of talk about what could be. So you toss that all together and there is a lot of excitement for this [game]."

The team is scheduled to depart State College airport around 4 p.m. Friday to fly up to Syracuse.

Growing Intensity

The defense has focused on scheme fundamentals this week. "They've been working a lot of the basics around penetration, reads and take-downs," an observer explained. "There's been talk about 'Orange Crush' and making a statement in this game. Syracuse is down, but the [defensive] coaches have the guys amped up."

In fact, the intensity has seen some tempers flair up this week. "Yeah there have been a few hot-head incidents," another observer said. The linemen have had some "scuffles." As one observer told us, "A fight broke out [on Wednesday] between [foreign team offensive lineman] Matt Stankiewitch and [defensive end] Eric Latimore. They got into it a bit. Both lines are fired up. The coaches seem to really like that intensity on both sides [of the ball]."

In fact, observers have praised the linemen for their "mean" approach and many feel that this is "a key difference for the units, particularly the offensive [line] guys."

A Little Help

The secondary has been putting in a good amount of work with "reads and helps with the safeties." According to one observer, "Anthony Scirrotto has been on Mark Rubin, Drew Astorino and D'Anton Lynn about the first step — it's all read-react and getting down the tendencies of the offense."

Another observer said, "Anthony [Scirrotto] is as fired up as I have ever seen him. He's pushing guys and I think realizes this is his shot to go out in a significant way."

Double Down

The first two defenses of the season showed the offense a look they expect to see throughout the season — a double up on a key receiver, in the case of the first two games, Deon Butler. As one observer explained, "The first two teams focused on eliminating Butler as a deep threat by playing a corner 15 to 20 yards off him — like deep threat safety.

"If [the coaches] wanted to, they could have gone to Butler every down for an 8- to 10-yard pickup."

This week the passing game worked the "double down," as one observer described it, where quarterbacks Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin practiced their reads to see whether Jordan Norwood or Butler would get doubled teamed. They have to identify it, pick the right single-coverage target and deliver the ball."

The coaches had them working this "wing to wing to get their head on a swivel and test their reads."

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