NITTANY NOTES: Bye, Bye; Hello, Iowa

Get the latest on the Nittany Lions as they come out of the bye week and look to head back on the road to face Iowa. What is the team up to? How is the mood of the squad? Find out in our exclusive Nittany Notes.

Though Penn State trimmed back practice a bit last week, with sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the players saw some "intense" contact work during the week. "There was some big hitting," one observer said. "The coaches were on a few guys like Navorro [Bowman], Mo [Evans] and [Aaron] Maybin for laying the lumber, saying they wanted everyone to take it easier in drills."

The players got a break over the weekend too. "A lot of [the players] went home," one observer explained. The consensus among observers was the Iowa and Texas Tech games drew the most interest from the Lions. "Everyone was talking about the Iowa-Illinois game more than Texas-Texas Tech late last week," according to another observer. "But that Texas game was awesome, a real thriller."

Poll Position

According to most observers the team is not too concerned with the fact that Penn State is still No. 3 the latest BCS ranking, behind Alabama and Texas Tech. As one observer opined: "There's loads of football to be played and anything can happen. [The team has] to do [its] job or it's all just hot air. Whoever loses focus is going to trip up and the coaches, captains and veterans are on everyone to just take the same approach — one play at a time."

As another observer said, "[Penn State at No. 3] is a joke, but who cares? It's not like the title game is tomorrow. All it does is illustrate how Mickey Mouse the BCS can be. It gives the suits something to talk about, I guess. We've got three more teams left though, so it's not worth worrying about it yet."

Film Festival

The players and coaches took in added film sessions last week on Iowa to understand how Shonn Greene runs and what the tendencies of the Hawkeye offensive line are.

The units are expected to compare notes on what they saw from Iowa against Illinois this past Saturday. "Greene is a solid back and can really navigate in traffic. [QB Ricky] Stanzi had some ups and downs — he had a few interceptions — but he hits those shorts routes pretty well. [Andy] Brodell, that wideout, looked good on his cuts. He could be a handful."

"You can bet Iowa is looking at this game as their shot to not only get bowl eligible, but to make some national headlines," one observer said. "There's a lot of talk about that lately. One guy in the locker room last week was saying, 'Our uniforms are so patriotic — blue and white for Penn State and red from the big target on our backs.'"

Weekly Work

The defense is expecting to see a schedule similar to that of the weeks leading up to Wisconsin and Ohio State. "We're expecting to see a good amount of 1v1 work, dummy rushes and technique drills — everything that will work the linemen on getting pressure on the pocket," according to one observer. "I think we're looking at an impressive running back in Greene, but this defense has seen other impressive backs in Hill, Clay and Wells."

The offense is not changing much up this week. As one observer told us, "They'll be working a lot of passing and route drills. We'll see how Daryll [Clark] looks — he was here and there last week, so Monday and Tuesday should be telling.

"Whatever they have pulled from the Iowa film they'll be introducing to the game plan on Monday. Personally, I think some screen, wheel and draw looks could really open things up."

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