Defense Dominates in Scrimmage

Penn State veteran D-line set the tone in a short Coaches Clinic session at Holuba Hall Saturday. See what went down right here.

Penn State defensive tackle Abe Koroma came barreling through the offensive line, grabbed Matt McGloin by the scruff of the neck and tossed the reserve quarterback to the ground before doing a quick celebration skip.

Nearby, Nittany Lion coach Joe Paterno shook his head before barking at the offensive linemen who allowed the sack, “Get it done!”

And so it was at PSU's Coaches Clinic Scrimmage in Holuba Hall Saturday, as the Nittany Lion defense appeared to be significantly ahead of the offense.

In one of the shorter Coaches Clinic Scrimmages in recent memory -- the entire practice lasted less than two hours and the scrimmage itself consisted of just eight series and consumed less than 60 minutes -- only two touchdowns were scored.

Tailback Evan Royster broke free for a 45-yard TD jaunt as the first-team offense opened the action against the third-team defense. Later, quarterback Daryll Clark found tight end Mickey Shuler in the back left corner of the end zone as the first-team offense completed a long march against the second-team defense.

Clark also lit it up in 7-on-7 action before the actual scrimmage began, spreading the ball to the fleet of new faces at wideout who were working against a rebuilt secondary. But his backup, true freshman and early enrollee Kevin Newsome, was not nearly as sharp.

Newsome struggled on short and intermediate patterns in 7-on-7 play and had trouble picking up targets in the scrimmage. However, he proved to be extremely dangerous while on the run. Playing mostly with the second team, his highlights (and lowlights) came against the first-team defense.

On the first play of the fifth series, Newsome was sacked by defensive end Kevion Latham. On second down, he corralled a high shotgun snap and took off on a 15-yard scramble, yelling at starting defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu after the play. On the next snap, Ogbu muscled through the line and sacked Newsome, giving the smack talk right back.

Newsome had only one series with the first-team offense. On what proved to be the final series of the scrimmage, he slipped on first down and had the wind knocked from him. Later, on third down, he was sacked by starting linebacker Navorro Bowman.

It was the only point of the scrimmage at which the first-team offense and defense clashed. And even though Clark and Royster had already been relegated to the bench for precautionary reasons, there was no question which unit was further along.

Penn State figures to have one of the nation's best front sevens in 2009 and the defense did nothing to disappoint on this day. In one-on-one and two-on-two drills between the offensive and defensive lines, it was no contest.

Defensive tackle Jared Odrick was unstoppable. Working against freshly minted starting left guard Matt Stankiewitch on one play, Odrick effortlessly motored past before wiping out a tackling dummy. Later, Odrick and Koroma teamed up to beat starting center Stefen Wisniewski and new right guard Lou Eliades.

After Odrick and defensive end Eric Latimore blew by left tackle DeOn'tae Pannell and center Quinn Barham, offensive line coach Bill Kenney shouted, “Wake up. You're not freshmen out here anymore.”

Odrick, Ogbu and Koroma all saw first-team defensive tackle reps and all looked outstanding. Devon Still, Chima Okoli and Brandon Ware played well as reserves. Latham, Jack Crawford and Latimore all saw first-team defensive end reps.

At linebacker, senior Sean Lee took a handful of first-team reps in the 7 on 7. But Lee, who is being held out of contact this spring to protect a surgically rebuilt right knee, eventually gave way to Josh Hull. In the scrimmage, Hull played between Bowman and Mike Mauti. The Lions appear to have great depth at 'backer, as second-teamers Chris Colasanti picked off a McGloin pass and Nate Stupar batted two of McGloin's throws. Third-teamer Michael Zordich nearly had an interception, too.

The secondary features four new starters in corners Knowledge Timmons and A.J. Wallace, along with safeties Drew Astorino and Andrew Dailey. Clark gave them some problems in the 7 on 7. But overall, they played welll, especially in the scrimmage.

The biggest question mark on offense is the line, which must replace three All-Big Ten starters. It featured Pannell and Stankiewitch on the left, Wisniewski moving from guard to center, and veteran tackle Dennis Landolt and Eliades on the right. Pannell and Stankiewitch, a sophomore and redshirt freshman, figure to be pushed by Nerraw McCormack and Johnnie Troutman, respectively. In this scrimmage, Pannell was on the verge of being pulled in favor of McCormack before the staff decided to wrap things up early.

Penn State must also replace its three top wideouts from last season, but appears to have some serious weapons to get that done. Brett Brackett, Graham Zug, Derek Moye, Chaz Powell and James McDonald all rotated in with the first-team offense. Zug showed good hands on this day and Powell looked like he has the potential to be a playmaker if he can improve his hands.

The event was initially scheduled to be held at Beaver Stadium but was moved indoors due to high wind. Paterno walked into the main entrance of Holuba, mingled with a gaggle of high school coaches for a bit and then took the field.

Still recovering from hip replacement surgery, he spent the entire scrimmage on his feet. At one point, he even ran to demonstrate a route for tight end Andrew Quarless.

When the scrimmage started, Quarless had a false start on the first play. Paterno didn't waste a moment in tearing into the veteran.

“And you'll wonder why you'll be sitting on your rear end!” Paterno shouted.

Overhearing such talk was the closest the media came to getting Paterno's assessment of the action. As usual, no coaches or players were made available after the session was complete.

To get more info from the scrimmage, be sure to visit our TAP Forum.


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