NITTANY NOTES: Bringing the Heat

Get another exclusive update on the Nittany Lions as the preseason practice intensity is dialed up yet again this week. The pads finally went on Monday.

With the NCAA-mandated non-contact opening period of preseason behind it, Penn State strapped on the pads Monday to start getting into contact. "[The players] were giddy in the locker room as they put on their pads," one observer explained. "There's been a lot of anticipation to get back into contact (drills)."

The coaches had made things difficult for the players even before the pads went on. Once the Lions were in full gear, things got even more intense. Here are some notes from Monday.

  • The offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers got into some 1v1 and 2v2 contact drills. "There were some big hits — there was a lot of pent up energy they were anxious to get out." Observers liked the aggression of the drills, particularly from Michael Mauti and Devon Still.

  • Mauti in particular "has looked great" in early drills. "He's quick and agile," although observers believe he is anxious to get rid of the knee brace he's been sporting in drills.

  • The running backs "came to play" and had a good outing, getting in some "hit and strip drills." Observers gave praise to Evan Royster, "who is pushing and really working with the younger guys." Stephfon Green "looks light on his feet and has held up well so far."

  • Observers continue to be excited about young backs Curtis Dukes and Silas Redd. "I think they could be an awesome combo. They are both impressive physically but bring completely different looks to the backfield."

  • The offensive line is seeing "the standard shifts of the preseason," although observers feel that the basic makeup of the first team unit is looking like:

    LT: Quinn Barham
    LG: DeOn'tae Pannell/Matt Stankiewitch
    C: Doug Klopacz
    RG: Stefen Wisniewski
    RT: Lou Eliades/Chimaeze Okoli

  • Observers feel Johnnie Troutman could make a major impact on the line, but "he's got to get it all together." We'd list him at DH right now — for "dog house."

  • There are concerns with Pannell's weight issues and some feel he needs to ramp up his strength. "It's frustrating, because he has the frame — the staff is riding him, so we'll see — but there are guys who will step in if he doesn;t pull it together," according to an observer.

  • As FOS broke, Curtis Drake sustained a broken leg in Monday's practice. As one observer explained, "No doubt it's a blow, but if there's a unit that can absorb this type of injury it's the wideouts." Observers feel that with Graham Zug, Derek Moye and Justin Brown leading the unit and the emergence of Shawney Kersey, Brandon Moseby-Felder and Devon Smith.

Tuesday, increased the intensity even more as the team kicked off the first of their double sessions, hitting the field just after dawn for the first practice of the day. The team was in tops (pads), shorts and helmets for the early session.

They are scheduled for the second Tuesday session this afternoon.

"It's gonna be brutal - the staff is pushing them had saying there's no ramp-up this season. They have to ready to play the No. 1 team out of the gate." PSU is at Alabama in the second week of the season.

Along those lines, the coaching staff is welcoming the brutal heat that has hit Happy Valley this week. There is no telling how it may be when the team travels to Tuscaloosa, so this is the perfect way to prepare.

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