Spring Questions Revisited

Heading into spring ball, many questions surrounded the Penn State football program. How were they answered?

Many questions faced the Penn State football program heading into spring practice. How were those questions answered? Read on for our take.

How is the QB situation shaping up?

THEN: At the start of spring, the situation looked good and bad. Penn State returned All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark at the helm. However, beyond the starter, the situation looked uncertain, with the transfer of Pat Devlin to Delaware. PSU's only other scholarship QB was true freshman Kevin Newsome, who enrolled early to get a jump on his career.

NOW: While not free of concern, the spring revealed some positive developments for the pocket position. Newsome had an impressive spring, picking up the playbook and showing solid technique with his arm after an initial period of struggles. He'll still need some solid game experience for the staff to be completely comfortable with him being one play away from the starting job, but the abilities he displayed in the Blue-White game (9 for 13, 71 yards, one TD) made everyone a bit more comfortable. Toss in walk-on redshirt freshman Matt McGloin, who had a solid spring outing (9 for 13 for 111 yards and two TDs), and this position appears to be headed in the right direction.

UPSIDE: Clark's experience, Newsome's progress, McGloin having the look of a solid emergency backup

DOWNSIDE: No game experience behind Clark

How is the secondary shaping up?

THEN: With the loss of Anthony Scirrotto, Tony Davis, Lydell Sargeant and Mark Rubin, there were gaping holes to fill. Corner A.J. Wallace and safety Drew Astorino were the only returnees with significant experience.

NOW: The good news is that some players have stepped up. At safety, Andrew Dailey and Nick Sukay both played well at safety. And true freshman Gerald Hodges (another early enrollee) showed the look of a future star. D'Anton Lynn and Knowledge Timmons who have made a run at the corner spot opposite of Wallace. The bad news is that questions still swirl around Wallace's determination and durability, with observers wondering if he can make it through preseason camp without being knocked from the lineup by some sort of injury. In the spring, he was hampered by a hamstring injury.

UPSIDE: Astorino's leadership, Hodges' promise

DOWNSIDE: Lack of experience, Wallace questions

Can the receivers reload quickly enough to help the air attack?

THEN: In the eyes of most fans, the loss of Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler was the team biggest concern heading into the spring. Although the unit had a bit of experience with Graham Zug and Brett Brackett, overall it was extremely young.

NOW: With Zug, Brackett, Derek Moye and Chaz Powell as the core unit in the spring, the wideouts picked up a "sizable" advantage over the 2008 starters. Brackett is 6-6, Moye 6-5 and Zug 6-2. There is speed in the equation, too, as Moye and Powell were both clocked at below 4.4 second in the 40 during the winter. Zug led receivers during the Blue-White game with four catches for 62 yards and a TD. Brackett separated a shoulder in the game but is expected to be healthy in time for preseason practice. This is another area that needed a strong spring and produced.

UPSIDE: Added size, variety of targets

DOWNSIDE: Loss of aggregate speed, awaiting the emergence of a go-to target

How will the left side of the offensive line perform?

THEN: With the loss of Gerald Cadogan (LT), Rich Ohrnberger (LG) and A.Q. Shipley (C), this area was a priority for the staff during the winter and spring. The good news is that the new faces are protecting a veteran QB who is mobile. The bad news is that they're a hit away from protecting a true freshman.

NOW: A move of Stefen Wisniewski from guard to center proved to be a good one, as he leveraged his refined technique, impressive physique and Academic All-American mind to set a solid foundation. The questions related to the left guard and tackle spots are still unanswered, albeit with some additional clues as to how things will pan out. The guard position has seen a battle between Matt Stankiewitch and Johnnie Troutman. DeOn'tae Pannell has shown promised on the edge, seeing the bulk of first-team reps during spring, with Nerraw McCormack backing him up before he was sidelined with a knee injury the first week of spring drills.

UPSIDE: Wisniewski's leadership and abilities, young talent

DOWNSIDE: Inexperience all-around, unknown chemistry

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