NITTANY NOTES: Pressing Questions

Penn State prepares to head back on the road again, this time to Camp Randall Stadium. Get the latest on several questions swirling about the Nittany Lions, including updates on Quarless, Norwood, Shuler, preparations and more.

Here is the latest on several questions about Penn State as it prepares to face Wisconsin on the road this weekend:

What is the situation with Jordan Norwood, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury?

As one observer said, "He was back on Monday and looked pretty comfortable. The fact he is back definitely seems to make Daryll [Clark] more at ease, as well."

Clark said during his Tuesday conference call that Norwood was "going at about 80 percent" in drills on Monday. As another observer explained, "[The coaches] are going to ease him in, let him get the feel. He'll see contact on Tuesday and they'll see how he does."

PSU coach Joe Paterno said, barring injury, he expects Norwood to play against the Badgers.

How is tight end Andrew Quarless?

Quarless suffered an ankle injury in the Purdue game. As one observer said, "A.Q. got nicked, but he seems fine. He saw some reps on Monday and I expect him to see action this weekend unless he re-injures [his ankle]."

What about tight end Mickey Shuler?

Shuler's ankle injury is said to be worse than Quarless'. "Mickey was sidelined Monday [in practice]. He's probably going to need some time to recover and get healthy."

What is the offense focused on for Wisconsin?

The offensive unit has been focused on "a lot of the basics," including route-running reps, pass timing, scramble drills and blocking.

"The guys are getting a good amount of work on blocking and the basics," an observer said. "The coaches are not changing things up too much. They'll add a few things to the scheme based on what Wisconsin has shown on film — a package or two that leverages speed or misdirection — but the basic game plan has some strengths that can exploit what Wisconsin has shown, if [the players] just execute."

And the defense's focus?

"The front seven are working on pressure and pursuit drills," another observer said. "They are also focused on zone transitions and being able to read and plug up lanes against [P.J.] Hill and [John] Clay. The coaches want the defense to 'play loose,' but keep that recklessness. That's their trademark."

The secondary has focused a lot on "route reads" and "making adjustments based on the tendencies of the receivers." As one observer said, "[Drew] Astorino and [Anthony] Scirrotto have done this pretty well. They will watch the habits the quaterback and receiver have on passes and adjust their coverage. Astorino did this against Purdue; he dropped his coverage a bit and stepped into the lane to grab a pass. They need to keep this up and just adjust to what they see."

How is the team preparing for Camp Randall Stadium?

"They'll pump in crowd noise in practice, but they're also focused on taking it one snap at a time," according to an observer. "It's not like these guys haven't played in loud games, but they are expecting the worst."

Both sides of the ball are preparing to communicate if the noise gets too loud. "Hand signals, sideline cards — they work this sort of stuff for Beaver Stadium as well, since you can't always control the crowd noise at home, either."

How is the attitude of the team?

"Upbeat," one observer said. "[The players] are excited for this challenge and feel like they have an opportunity to prove something. [They] are just going to focus one play at a time and try to execute, put points on the board and get away with a win."

How is the team dealing with Paterno's nagging right leg injury?

Many players are said to be concerned and feel that the lack of mobility has frustrated the coach, especially at practice. "He's been around, yelling and getting everyone focused, but a lot of kids who are concerned about his health."

Meanwhile, observers tell us Paterno is doing everything he can to stay off the sore leg. He reportedly did not fly back from Purdue with the team, but rather in the university plane with athletic director Tim Curley.

At practices, he continues to ride around in a golf cart. And for morning staff meetings, we are told he is usually calling in from his home office and participating on a speaker phone.


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