Rose Bowl Notebook: Dec. 26

Nittany Lions shrugging off questions of whether they can handle being in USC's backyard. Also, a break from practice and D-Will lands in an all-star game.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Penn State is roughly a 10-point underdog for its New Year's Day Rose Bowl matchup with USC. But the bookies apparently aren't the only ones who think the Nittany Lions are going to have their hands full with the Trojans and the allure that allegedly is Los Angeles.

At a media event featuring the coaches and captains of both teams held at Disneyland Friday, only three Penn State beat writers were on hand. And that meant most of the questions for the Nittany Lions came from local scribes.

The tone of some of the questions was almost comical in the way they painted the PSU players as rubes from the sticks.

REPORTER: “So far has the experience been everything you thought it might be, coming out here and doing this for the first time?”

PSU CENTER A.Q. SHIPLEY: “I think so. Just to come out here and play against a great team like USC, we've been looking forward to that. That was a goal early in the season, to get out here and play a great team like USC. We've had a great time. We've worked hard and practiced. And we've had a great time going to the different events we've been to so far.”

REPORTER: “How difficult is it going to be to not be distracted? They've been here year after year. You guys are in Southern California -- a lot of your guys probably for the first time ever. You've got Disneyland, you've got all this other stuff. It's different for you but it's normal for them.”

SHIPLEY: “We've been in big games before. From that aspect, this isn't that different. But it's gonna be a great experience and a great challenge to play a great team like USC.”

To their credit, the PSU players did not seem rankled by that line of questioning.

“We can't really pay attention to that,” Shipley said. “We know what kind of team we have inside. We know what the guys are expecting of this game. And we know Coach [Joe] Paterno is going to have us ready to play on game day. What the perception is outside our team, we can't really control that. Our job is to go out and prove them wrong.”

Added senior safety Anthony Scirrotto, “We played in Miami [in the Orange Bowl] freshman year. This is another BCS game, just the other side of the country.”


Penn State practiced Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. But Paterno gave his Nittany Lions the last two days off.

“You have to watch how the kids do, whether they have some bounce in their legs and whether they're starting to get a little tired,” Paterno said. “No sense going out there just to get out there and practice.”

Penn State will practice the next three days and then likely have some sort of light session the day before the Rose Bowl.

“The kids work like dogs to get here and it's a reward,” Paterno said. “They should have some fun. When it comes time to play, we'll play as well as we can. Whether we're good enough, that's why you play the game.”

Scirrotto liked what he saw out of the team the first three days in Los Angeles and felt it earned a couple of days off.

“I think our first three practices out here were sharper than the practices back home,” he said. “Everybody has a little bounce. It just seems like everyone is happy to be here.”

“I think we're right where we need to be,” added Paterno, college football's all-time leader in bowl wins. “We just have to make sure we don't work them too hard or not hard enough.”


Penn State receiver Derrick Williams has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. Shipley said he has multiple offers for all-star games but has not settled on one.

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