Since the preseason kicked off Thursday, Penn State has practiced everyday in shorts, jerseys and helmets and no pads to adhere to the NCAA's rule requiring such through the first five sessions. That doesn't mean things have been easy.
"It's been brutal," one practice observer explained. "There's been few rests and breaks, and almost everyone is taking their downtime to study for their upcoming finals, so a lot of guys are tired." As we discussed in an earlier report, many players have been hitting the hot and cold tubs to address aches and pains and taking in naps wherever they can get them, even around the locker room.
"It feels like we'they're 25 practices in (of the 29 the squad is allotted for the preseason) — not just four," another observer said.
This weekend the players also moved into the dorms for the preseason.
Here are some news and notes from the weekend practices:
- The quarterbacks got in additional passing work with Kevin Newsome, Matt McGloin, Paul Jones and Robert Bolden seeing a balanced share of the snaps. "It's still just timing and fundamental work right now," an observer said. "The coaches are reviewing their drop-backs, footwork, releases and general mechanics."
- The weekend allowed the offense to get some red zone work in, as well, with a variety of looks. Among the threats observers like here are Justin Brown, Derek Moye, Graham Zug and Brandon Moseby-Felder. "They were working with a lot of big targets. Zug really creates nice separation on his cuts and J.B. (Brown) uses his size and hands really well."
- The offense also worked on some goal line situations. Evan Royster "has been the leader of this offense," and the consensus is "he's come to work" this preseason. Curtis Dukes has been "strong" and "had a good start," but "has worn down with the pace some."
- Another young running back who has "really come on" is true freshman Silas Redd, who has paying close attention to Royster. In fact, as an aside, the coaches have roomed Redd with Royster this preseason. "The staff figures he can learn a lot from Evan, and Silas is excited to spend the time with him. I mean, (Royster) is one of the best we've ever had."
- In news on the tight ends, Andrew Szczerba has seen limited action in early drills due to an minor injury. However, observers like the strength and endurance Gary Gilliam has displayed thus far and freshman Kevin Haplea has also "looked solid all around," showing good hands and conditioning. Also, J.D. Mason did not appear to make the preseason 105-man roster. The good news is that the staff intends to use wideout Brett Brackett in many of the same formations it where it used Andrew Quarless last season.
- The defense got some blitzing work in this weekend, "just basic stuff — timing and positioning." Some names that observers like early on in the defensive rush are Jack Crawford, Eric Latimore, NateStupar and Gerald Hodges. "There's a lot of speed and power in the front seven and a ton of combos the coaches could use."