PRESSING QUESTIONS: Early Analysis

With the first week of Penn State's preseason practice almost in the books, FightOnState.com tackles a handful of pressing questions.

Penn State's preseason practice continued Thursday as the Nittany Lion put on shoulder pads for the first time. Friday, the team went in full pads.

A full-pad double sessions is slated for Saturday and the first preseason scrimmage is scheduled for Sunday.

Here are some initial answers to pressing questions from the first week of preseason drills:

Where is freshman Shawney Kersey seeing his practice reps?

Kersey's 4.2-range 40 time, which FOS reported on recently, has the "defensive [coaches] excited," as one observer put it. "However, [receivers coach Mike] McQueary has also gotten him reps with the wideouts." This week Kersey is seeing drills with both the defensive backs and wideouts and observers expect a "spirited discussion" over which unit ends up with him.

With some strong impressions being made among the other young wideouts, observers feel that the secondary's needs may outweigh those of the passing game.

Incidentally, Kersey saw wide receiver reps during the opening Media Day drills on Thursday and was wearing a white jersey, signifying and offensive player. At the close of the media session, Kersey was seen heading over to drill with the defensive backs.

As an aside, Kersey is wearing No. 4. That happens to be the same number cornerback Knowledge Timmons wears. So if Kersey is to play defensive in a game, he'll have to change numbers.

What is the situation with A.J. Wallace?

Despite some false rumors of Wallace playing first-team corner this week, he confirmed the FOS Nittany Notes report saying he was demoted to the third team after missing some classes during the summer.

Joe Paterno indicated Wallace could miss playing time this season for this and observers feel that that could very well happen. "Joe's a bit fed-up with Wallace, so he's got to get his head straight. He's got to show it and I think he gets that he's on a short leash."

Of course, the fact that Penn State opens with Akron and Syracuse, both at home, will make it a bit easier for the coach to punish his top cornerback.

What is the real story with Brandon Ware's weight?

Joe Paterno said during his Thursday press conference that "Brandon is 20 pounds away from coming close to being a football player. He's just too heavy. He doesn't have any stamina. But he could be really good. He's quick and strong, but way overweight."

Ware is currently around 342 pounds and most observers feel he is pretty close to where he needs to be. In fact Larry Johnson told FOS during Media Day he feels Ware is about five pounds away.

So where is the disconnect? "You know Joe, he's about motivating guys and he knows Brandon has the ability to be an outstanding tackle," an observer said. "I think he's done a bang-up job shedding the pounds, but the challenge is staying at that playing weight to help with his mobility and control — not too big, but also not too small, as strange as that sounds."

Ware seems anxious to make the head coach happy. When Paterno blew his whistle for the team to huddle around him before practice Thursday, Ware hustled to be the first man standing next to the coach.

Where is Sean Lee going to play?

We've addressed the a few times earlier this week in our Linebacker Look Nittany Notes and Key Question report. However, this week Lee has seen the bulk of his practice reps at outside linebacker. Some observers believe he would be a perfect fit inside, making adjustments and reads for the front seven. Others think his athleticism will be better used outside.

We're hearing the staff seems to be leaning toward keeping him on the wing to allow him to "get more space to make plays. Although, you could see a lot of teams running away from him," as one observer explained. The good news is, that would likely mean they are toward another All-Big Ten outside 'backer, Navorro Bowman.

"Sean's looked great in drills. He gets on himself periodically for a misread here or there in Drill 6, but I think he's looked sharp and has had no issues with his knee."

As an aside Lee has not worn a brace so far in any preseason drills.

And you read it here first. While Penn State has focused on its base 4-3 defense so far, don't be surprised if the Lions work in more 3-4 looks as the preseason progresses.

How is the kicking situation shaping up?

Observers indicate that Collin Wagner's consistency is improving while freshman Anthony Fera continues to have the edge on power. Fera had consistency issues in the spring, but we're hearing he was dealing with a groin which impacted his kicking motion.

"Wagner seems to have an edge now, but I think he's looking over his shoulder given the sheer abilities of Fera," one observer explained.

Fera has been working kickoffs and is said to be hitting hang times over more than four seconds, which is "impressive."

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