NITTANY NOTES: Bowl Preparations

Get the latest on what the Penn State football team is up to now that the players have regrouped following Thanksgiving break.

Setting the Pace

Once again Penn State is adopting an "ease into it" approach for bowl preparations. After taking a week off for Thanksgiving break, which surprised some around the program, the coaching staff is going to "get the guys into it this week."

As one observer said, "There is a lot of excitement for the bowl after this weekend. Most of these guys like the idea of facing USC basically on the road. There's an energy that is building similar to the week before Ohio State."

However, the coaches are adopting the approach of recent years where they "start out light and easy and build to a crescendo over the month." The goal is to mitigate the long layoff between the Nov. 22 regular season finale against Michigan State and the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl.

"There's still a ton of time — what four weeks?" an observer said. "The coaches work hard to manage the excitement and energy to channel it and get it to peak at the right time. It can be a challenge, but they do a pretty consistent job with bowl preparations."

Dialing It Up

Penn State is not expected to hold a full practice until Friday of this week. Sessions on Friday and Saturday are expected to be light, followed by a "180 shift" in intensity early next week.

The Lions used a similar tactic last season, with two light sessions to start bowl prep before the third sessions got tough.

"It was hell," an observer recalled. "Every unit was in full pads and the coaches ran every drill you can think of. The practice was packed with next to no down time."

Starting Schedule

This week the players are seeing a light schedule of:

Monday: Lift Session
Tuesday: Run Session
Wednesday: Run Session
Thursday: Lift Session
Friday: Practice (light/unit work)
Saturday: Practice (light/unit work)

Bowl Buzz

"There's a big buzz growing here — the Rose Bowl against USC in their backyard," an observer said. "You could say the team is excited. This is going to be a challenge, but this team has faced a lot of 'no chances' and 'never dones' before."

And on the prospect of being the underdog?

"Aside from the bookies, did anyone truly believe this team would beat Ohio State in Columbus?" an observer said. "If I had a nickel for every time that tired old 'they haven't won in the Horseshoe in 30 years' crap, I'd be set for life."

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