NITTANY NOTES: Pressing Questions

Coming off back-to-back road wins over Michigan and Northwestern, the Nittany Lions head home. But with the arrival back in Happy Valley comes a formidable opponent — Ohio State. See what is going on with the team as it prepares for the Buckeyes.

As Penn State prepares for Ohio State, get answers to key questions about the squad:

What was with the slow start against Northwestern?

The theories range from looking ahead to the Buckeyes to the weather, but some feel it was "old fashioned flat play," as one observer explained. "I don't think they were looking ahead to the OSU game. And they have played in ugly weather all season, although that (Northwestern) field was garbage. I just don't think they came out inspired. And frankly there is zero energy in that stadium; what a boring crowd."

As another observer said, "Northwestern's got problems. The fans don't care and that surface was one of the worst I have ever seen."

Is Drew Astorino injured?

The PSU safety has been dealing with a "nagging shoulder" in recent weeks, which "I think has made him a bit tentative on hits." As another observer said, "I think he is dealing with some discomfort, which impacted his mobility and ability adjust at times."

Observers feel that Astorino is a "tough kid" who is the type who "will play through some pain," but they expect that the staff will keep a close eye on him in drills this week.

How is Stephfon Green's ankle?

Green made the trip to Northwestern but did not dress for the game. He has been dealing with an ankle injury sustained against Minnesota just over two weeks ago.

Observers indicate that the medical staff is monitoring Green and "may let him get some running in" this week in drills, but that he is not expected at this point to get clearance to play Saturday against the Buckeyes. Brandon Beachum has stepped in for him, getting the bulk of Green's carries since he was sidelined.

What is the attitude of the team heading into OSU?

"Excited," one observer said. "Sunday is usually a day off, but there were a lot of guys in [Lasch Building] watching film from the Northwestern game and getting a jump on the Ohio State preparations."

The consensus among many observers is that the team is very anxious for this game. "Right after the team hit the locker room after the [Northwestern] win a lot of guys were saying, things like "enjoy it, but back to work tomorrow," and "big game fellas.

As another observer said, "It's the home stretch and they know they can close out big. They know they are in for a dogfight, but they are excited for it."

Who is expected to play the role of OSU QB Terrelle Pryor on the Scout Team?

Observers indicate that foreign squad quarterbacks Shane McGregor and Steven Hill will likely get reps to "work passing situations." However, reserve cornerback Jesse Alfreno will step under center to test the defense on runs.

"Jesse certainly doesn't have Pryor's size, but he is very good at making reads and can be elusive on runs," an observer said. "He's in there to test the containment and get the defensive line to out-react his ability to read holes."


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