NITTANY NOTES: Back to Business

Penn State is back to work after a big win, preparing for its second road game of 2008. See what the focus is for the Nittany Lions as they look ahead to Purdue.

Monday was "back to business" for the Nittany Lions as they got back into practice drills to prepare for their Saturday road game with Purdue. "Joe told them to enjoy the [Illinois] win this weekend, but he expected everyone to be back to work on Monday. As he said after the game, the ultimate goal for this team is much bigger than beating Illinois," an observer explained.

Defensive Drills

The defense got in a lot of work with pass rush fundamentals, including some blitz timing drills. "[The coaches] talked about containment with Juice [Williams] and the speed of Illinois," an observer explained. "They are still stressing that to a point, but [Curtis] Painter is not a mobile threat to the level Williams is. There is more of a focus on collapsing the pocket to get Painter to force decisions."

The defensive backs did a good amount of work on "route coverage basics" and "transitions." They also are expected to focus on zone pickups and releases between the safeties, corners and linebackers.

"There were some breakdowns [against Illinois]," another observer said. "[Arrelious] Benn was limited to what, four catches? Unfortunately, two of those were touchdowns. The coaches stressed last week how he was going to make plays. It was more about how [the PSU players] contained him and responded. On those individual plays the containment was bad, but on the day it was pretty good overall."

Offensive Operations

The offensive side of the ball did work on a lot of basics and "some refinement of some play expansions." The players also worked on their blocking. "The scheme [the offensive coaches] run has a lot of movement to open up gaps, so blocking is essential — by everyone," an observer said. "They stress this almost daily with everyone, including the wideouts and running backs. Downfield blocking is such a huge component. They really get on a guy if he pulls off once he sees the ball isn't delivered in his direction. The staff expects those guys to go find someone to hit to make a path."

Missing From Action

A few key players were "given a break" from action on Monday. Linebacker Navorro Bowman and running back Evan Royster were held out of the bulk of drills on Monday. "They both had monster games and the [offensive coaches] elected to give the guys an added day's rest."

Both players are a "little banged up," but the injuries are said to be "nothing serious." As one observer said, "They earned an extra day to recoup."

Lydell Sargeant was also said to be absent from drills on Monday. We're working on getting more details on this.

There have been questions about Anthony Scirrotto and Ollie Ogbu, who both had injury issues during the Illinois game. "Yeah, both look fine now," an observer said. "There was a good amount of cramping with some of the guys. That is what kept nagging Scirrotto with his leg [during the game]."

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