Rose Bowl Notebook: Dec. 28

USC wideouts are living large and Penn State has to figure out how to cover them. Also, updates on the Beef Bowl, Jordan Norwood and Lydell Sargeant's homecoming.

LOS ANGELES -- There were two press conferences held at the Rose Bowl media headquarters here Sunday morning.

The first featured four members of the Penn State defense, as well as coordinator Tom Bradley. The second featured four members of the USC offense, including coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

The one player from the bunch who stood out as having eye-catching physical stature for his given position was Trojan receiver Patrick Turner, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder with extremely long arms and big hands.

The senior is not the only big wideout on the USC roster. Of the eight players on the depth chart at split end and flanker, all but one are at least 6-1. Four are 6-3 or taller and weigh at least 215.

Nittany Lion safety Mark Rubin -- no shrimp himself at 6-3, 220 -- said preparing to face the super-sized receiving corps is a challenge.

“Receivers, when the ball is in the air, they have the advantage right off the bat because they know the route and they know where the ball is probably going to end up,” Rubin explained. “So when you combine that with the fact that they're 6-5 with long arms and good hands and speed, it definitely gives them an advantage.

“But it also presents a great opportunity for us to show what we can do,” he added.

To prepare for the big receivers, the Penn State defensive backs are doing “jump ball” drills in practice every day.

“That's something Coach Bradley has put into our bowl preparation,” cornerback Lydell Sargeant said. “It is kind of a fade drill against tall receivers.”

WHERE'S THE BEEF?

The Penn State players participated in an event called the Lawry's Beef Bowl at Lawry's The Prime Rib Saturday. It involved the team heading to the famous restaurant and eating a bunch of prime rib (USC went Sunday).

So who ate the most cuts?

“From what I heard, [offensive tackle] Dennis Landolt ate four or five pieces of meat,” defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “I was stuffed at one.”

On a pound-for-pound basis, though, backup punter Ryan Breen turned in the most impressive performance. At 194 pounds, he tips the scales at 110 pounds less than Landolt (give or take a cup of au jus), yet Breen downed three cuts of prime rib.

“I'm embarrassed,” said Rubin, who finished 1.5 cuts. “I was out-eaten by a punter.”

NORWOOD UPDATE

Sargeant said senior wideout Jordan Norwood has seen limited action in practice due to an ankle injury and that redshirt sophomore Graham Zug has been getting most of Norwood's first-team reps.

Will Norwood play in the Rose Bowl?

“We're expecting him to,” Sargeant said. “He's day to day. But he's a senior and he's been through this kind of preparation many times before, so he doesn't really have to be out there [at practice].”

NO RESPECT

Penn State players continue to be peppered with questions about not getting any respect leading up to the Rose Bowl. They are 10-point underdogs to USC, which will basically be playing a home game.

And the Lions continue to brush it off.

“I don't feel slighted at all,” Odrick said. “That's something we're used to. Penn State hasn't been getting the notoriety or recognition for a couple of years now, so it's nothing new or different.”

HAPPY TO BE HOME

Sargeant grew up in the Pittsburgh area but spent his final three years of high school at Cabrillo in Lompoc, Calif. So he became something of a tour guide for his teammates on his trip back to the West Coast.

“It's fun to get back and show them a good time -- take them to In-N-Out Burger and places they don't know about,” he said. “It's fun and we're having a good time. But this week we have to start getting down only to football.”

-30-


Fight On State Top Stories