NITTANY NOTES: Pressing Questions

The Nittany Lions answered some questions Saturday in their 25-point victory in Ann Arbor. But other questions about the squad still remain. Get the latest answers here in our exclusive Nittany Notes.

Perhaps the biggest question Penn State answered on Saturday was, "Can the Nittany Lions win in Ann Arbor?" something that had evaded the team since 1996. Well, the Blue and White answered that inquiry in resounding fashion, beating Michigan 35-10.

However, several questions still remain on various aspects of the team. Here are the latest answers from PSU practice observers:

What created the spark for this team?

"The credit goes to the leadership," one observer said. "You have a core group of guys like Sean [Lee], Daryll [Clark], Jared [Odrick] and Dennis [Landolt] who are winners and love being challenged. Think about what they have done — beat Michigan, won in Madison, won in Columbus, won in Ann Arbor, won a Big Ten title. They have had some missteps, but on the whole they have done a lot of things other [PSU] teams have not been able to do."

As another observer said, "I think the real spark came from Joe [Paterno] before the game. He talked about how much he loves this team and knows how great they can be, but he questioned whether they knew how great they can be. He challenged them to show him, the staff, the fans and the country. It really fired up the guys. He's a master at that and it's something I'll never forget."

What happened with the offense after Michigan moved right down the field and scored?

Most observers point to Clark huddling up the offense on the sideline before it took the field. "He was yelling how it was time to answer, saying it was showtime and it's a long game."

Most observers say the offense was "fired up" to get on the field and "some guys were lobbying [the coaches] to get the ball first if they won the toss."

What happened on the blocked punt?

The coaches are taking a hard look at that this week. "The blocking needs to shore up, but Jeremy Boone is deliberate in his motion — he's also still having issues getting back to the 15-yard point."

Observers feel his slow motion and extra steps create a shorter field and opportunity for defenders to "get a hand in" the kicking path.

"[The coaches] have been working on it, but they will get in extra reps on it this week," an observer explained.

How is Lee? Why the limited reps?

Most observers thought Lee would see more action in the game, but say the amount of playing time comes down to the medical staff's decision.

"It's frustrating him as well, but he had a minor nick to his knee the previous week (against Minnesota), so they limited him in practice with that," an observer said.

While the squad wants him back on the field, no one is more anxious for a full return than Lee himself.

"I think he is frustrated — he tries to keep things so upbeat, but he realizes the clock on his time at Penn State is ticking. There's only five games left," another observer said.

What is the mood of the team?

Not surprisingly,the team is very excited an upbeat currently. However, "the guys realize that they could some special things this season and have to focus on Northwestern."

As another observer said, "They enjoyed the win, but Sunday it was back to business with a lot of guys coming in to see film. Anytime anyone gets too excited Iowa seems to be brought up. I think it's well understood that if they take any team lightly the mood could easily come crashing down. They control their destiny to finish this season strong."


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