This off-season has started differently. Rather than dropping a 38-24 decision to USC, Penn State is coming off a 19-17 victory over LSU. However, that is not to say Paterno is complacent. According to one observer, "Last [winter] he was [upset] because he believed he let the team down. This time around he's fired up, but more because we have some holes to fill, so the staff is on everyone to make every action count; every rep, every run, every snap."
As another observer explained, "[Joe] was really proud of the team in the bowl win. He told them he thought it was not their best play, but perhaps their best performance of the season. No one really gave them a chance, and he told them after the game that nobody seems to pay attention because it's always said the old fashioned, slow Penn State can't hang with the 'supersonic SEC'."
The fact that PSU was favored in the game works slightly against the "nobody-gave-us-a-chance" line, but it is easy to see where Paterno is coming from.
The coaches huddled when they got back on campus immediately following the Capital One Bowl to review their biggest position concerns and review their potential options. Among the focal points are obviously quarterback, with the departure of Daryll Clark, but also linebacker, tight end and the secondary. "I think a lot of people thought running back would be on that list, but [the coaches] were excited that Evan Royster opted to stay," an observer said.
There have been a some story lines that have already developed this off-season, including:
- There have been rumblings of defensive back D'Anton Lynn considering a transfer. By most accounts that appears to be accurate although he is enrolled and is expected to participate in spring drills. "I think he's going to see how the spring goes and where he ends up before he makes a decision."
- As FOS first reported a few weeks ago, safety Drew Astorino had surgery on his left shoulder to address an injury he coped with all of last season. Sources say the procedure went well and he will now take on rehab, but is unlikely to participate fully in spring drills.
- As FOS first reported, Brett Brackett has been taking skeleton snaps at quarterback. Although some observers feel he will end up at tight end. We'll see.
- Coming off a torn right ACL sustained in the preseason, Mike Mauti rehab has progressed "nicely." He is working out and is participating in sprint sessions. "He looks comfortable with the knee," one observer said. After dropping down to about 210 pounds following surgery, Mauti is already back over 225.