NITTANY NOTES: California or Bust

Get the lowdown on what is going down as Penn State prepares to face USC in the Rose Bowl.

Final Leg

Generally speaking the Penn State players had this past week off from practice to focus on finals for the semester. "The guys got some lifting and film sessions in, but the coaches give them the week off from practice to get their final exams and projects wrapped up," an observer explained.

The passing game units and defensive front got some extra film time in to review some "wrinkles they added in" and "review some more tendencies of USC."

The individual players also had their "breakdown" DVDs of the Trojans which they could watch during their free time before studying and taking finals.

Once their finals were or are complete, players are free to head home for a quick break with their families before they head off to Los Angeles.

Take Off

The player's are scheduled to depart for Los Angeles Saturday night or Sunday, generally taking flights to California from their respective home locations. All players are expected to arrive in L.A. by Sunday.

All players going on the trip — scholarship athletes and walk-ons alike — purchase their own plane tickets and then submit the receipts for reimburment. So some players — especially those who live quite a distance from a major airport — will never make it home before leaving. Instead, they'll stay with the families of teammates who live near Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg or Baltimore.

The coaching staff will arrive Saturday.

Back in the Saddle

A light practice is slated for later in the day Sunday, to get everyone back in the groove.

"Monday is back to work," one observer explained. "The guys will get right into action, kicking off a series of double session practices."

As another observer said, "This is the exact approach they took in Miami [for the 2006 Orange Bowl]. It'll be intense — I suspect that since these guys will have been out of pads for a week they'll be itching to really get back in the saddle and knock helmets."

Thing will be tough until six days out from the Jan. 1 game, at which time PSU will go into its typical game-week routine.

Scheme Shifts

To this point "the staff hasn't changed too much of the offensive scheme [in practice]." However, as one observer explained, "They are considering a few backfield shifts. Whatever they want to work in will really be worked out in California. But they have a lot of weapons to work with and have had some things they are thinking about trying with Evan Royster, Stephfon Green, Derrick Williams and Chaz Powell."

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