NITTANY NOTES: Pressing Questions

Get the latest on the team as it looks to bounce back from the first loss of 2008. How are players reacting? What are they focusing on? Who is leading the charge? Find out here in our exclusive Nittany Notes.

The loss to Iowa has been a rough one for the Nittany Lions. There are several questions surrounding the program as to where it goes from here. Get the latest answers in this report.

What was the post-game locker room scene like?

The post-game locker room scene for Penn State after the Iowa loss was a somber one for the players. "Everyone was pretty bummed with this one," one observer said. "But the coaches stepped in to change that pretty quickly. Leading the way was defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who told the team it still had a lot to play for. "The coaches pounced on the players, saying they still had work to do and they still have a lot to play for," an observer said. "Joe [Paterno] said the seniors deserve to be sent out in style — as the first [PSU] class to win two Big Ten titles over their career. I think that fired up some guys. I mean, we still control our destiny to win the conference and go to the Rose Bowl — that's something to fight for."

What did the team take away from the Iowa film

Sunday and Monday the coaches and players went through the film of the game and focused on the issues to resolve this week. "A lot of it focused on blocking; they missed a lot of blocks, especially in short-yardage sets. Daryll [Clark] had next to no time on several snaps," an observer said.

As another observer explained, "I am not sure why [the coaches] came out throwing into a 30 mph wind, but that was a mistake. Toss in the fact that the offensive line was not settled in and it spelled disaster and basically spotted Iowa seven points. I think we out-thought things there."

The defense focused on the issues with getting penetration into the pocket and shoring up the secondary coverage scheme. "There were a lot of gaps in the coverage, which the coaches are working on tightening up," one observer explained.

"The front seven were having a tough time getting into the pocket. You have to give Iowa credit; we thought we could tear into the pocket since they gave up six sacks the week before. They adjusted their protection really well, but I don't think we did a good job of disguising our pressure."

Who is taking charge of this team?

The consensus is that there are a handful of guys who are telling the players to "get over the pouting," as one observer put it. "Gerald [Cadogan] got on the phone with a bunch of the veterans like Derrick [Williams] and A.Q. [Shipley]. The gist of the call was to get everyone re-focused personally and then carry that over to the team."

As another observer explained, "It sucks, but this team has a ton to play for — a ton. A Big Ten title, the Rose Bowl, a BCS bid. No one gave this team a shot to be here, but it's time to close the deal."

What is the mood of Daryll Clark?

"Daryll was borderline depressed when I saw him in the locker room and on the flight home. He's spent extra time with the film, which is probably painful, but he's telling guys he needs to understand what he did wrong to correct it," as one observer said.

As another observer said, "I know it's easy to say in hindsight, but I don't know if he was 100 percent leading up to the game. He'd have good drills and bad drills."

Clark not only had questions about his concussion recovery, but also an apparent shoulder injury. "The coaches basically stripped out all of the designed runs for him to avoid any unnecessary contact. That is why you saw the Wildcat sets with Williams in."

Clark is said to have had a good practice on Monday, but some observers are concerned about him. "He's taking the blame, like a real leader, but he has to shake it off. He just really seems down. He's focused on getting back to work, but down."

What did the team focus on in Monday's session

"Blocking assignments," explained one observer. "Iowa shifted their setup a bit and I think that threw off some guys in certain situations. [The offensive line] did a good amount of 1v1 drill work for technique and also situational assignment reviews."

The defense focused primarily on fundamentals such as penetration skills and shedding blocks. "This game was lost on the lines and I think both sides get that," said one observer.

How does this team react Saturday, when it faces Indiana at home?

"That's the big question, isn't it?" an observers said. "I personally like what I saw yesterday [in practice], but they need to get it done. They control everything, they just need to get it done and close out. That is what a lot of guys are saying, 'close out.'" is THE source for exclusive, inside coverage of Penn State football.


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