NITTANY NOTES: Weekend Work

After getting a break from the practice fields on Thursday and Friday, the Nittany Lion football squad was back in action this past weekend.

After seven consecutive days of "brutal" practices the Penn State players were given a "break" from drills on Thursday and Friday. The time was allotted to allow the players to wrap up their summer session final exams and "help them recuperate a bit from the initial preseason stretch."

Although they were off the practice field to close out last week, the players still had unit meetings and film sessions to attend while several players also had to get fitted for some equipment. "A day off during preseason is rarely a real day off. Most of [the players] are still at Lasch to meet and review film or plays," one observer explained.

Morning Session

Saturday had the squad get back into double sessions with a "standard" practice in the morning where the players opened up with some fundamental and individual (indie) drills and then got in some additional situational drills working game aspects like blitz packages, play-action and red-zone.

The offensive staff thinks it has a tall order ahead of it with the quarterback situation. "[Kevin] Newsome was the logical pick back in June, but this [Robert] Bolden kid has been pouring it on — he's all over the weights, putting in extra time, watching a ton of extra film, working with the vets (Graham Zug and Derek Moye). He's pushing Jones, too, who obviously doesn't want to get left behind," one observer said. "It's cool to see them working together, though. They're both competitive, but seem to have a relationship."

Many observers maintain that they feel Matt McGloin is ahead of Newsome with his reads and delivery, but Newsome's "sheer athleticism is hard to dismiss."

Stadium Scrimmage

The afternoon session had the players head over to Beaver Stadium, where they had the first full scrimmage of the preseason. Previously they took in a 25-play scrimmage last week. Here are some notes from the recent session:

  • The scrimmage was "about 70 plays" with a pretty good run-pass balance of work.

  • Much of the scrimmage had the first-teams against the second-teams, but some first-first work was also conducted. "The offense got some plays in, but this defense is tough. They bit on a few things, though."

  • The four main quarterbacks (Kevin Newsome, Matt McGloin, Paul Jones and Robert Bolden) each got "decent reps" with the first team.

  • The consensus among observers were that McGloin and Bolden had the strongest scrimmage showings.

  • "Matt made some great reads and hit some check-downs." Observers feel his intermediate passing game is his strength along with his attitude. "He's not as athletics (as the other QBs), but he doesn't let up."

  • As for Bolden, observers say he sees the field well and "has a sharp release." Asked if they thought he has a shot to win the starting job, one observer replied, "I normally would think he really didn't have a shot coming (on campus) so late, but he's making a case that will be tough to ignore."

  • Newsome is working on his progression. "He's strong and fast, but he has to avoid locking on a target," according to one observer. "He's getting better on breakdowns; he'll use his legs or hit his check-down, but sometimes he's too predictable."

  • Jones "delivers a nice ball," but also "will make bad decisions." Observers feel he needs to settle in and not try to "force plays" in order to improve his consistency. Jones did have some nice short and intermediate passes in the scrimmage, however, "He needs to be aware of what - or who — is around him, like a rushing end."

  • Observers feel that the first-team offensive line is settling in as:

    LT: Quinn Barham
    LG: Matt Stankiewitch
    C: Doug Klopacz
    RG: Stefen Wisniewski
    RT: Lou Eliades

  • Klopacz is said to be settling in at center. Hhe's focused on his footwork and line adjustments, but "has been pretty good with his snaps." They have had him getting extra shotgun snap work in in practices.

  • Curtis Dukes "just runs over guys." As one observer said, "The coaches love the power, but want him to hit the holes instead of trying to just level tacklers. Dukes has had some nice runs. If he can use his lateral shifts in a lane he could really be a big weapon." Observers also say he's a "devastating" blocker when he "connects," but that he "square up to set his blocks, because he has whiffed at times."

  • Silas Redd was said to be "consistent" in the scrimmage, seeing primarily second-team work with some first-team opportunities. "He uses his power really well to make guys miss and can hit a seam and then lower a shoulder for a nice pick-up." Redd had a couple of 20- to 30-yard pickups, mostly with the second team. As one observer said, "He seems comfortable going either inside or outside, but they have him working on how he hits the corner on out routes."

  • Veteran receivers, Graham Zug and Derek Moye are the "go-to guys." However, Justin Brown and Shawney Kersey have been described as "impact players." Both have had some "beautiful grabs" and "aren't afraid of contact." Brown's ability to create separation has "really helped the QBs."

  • The coaches have had a lot of rotations with the front seven with Jack Crawford (DE), Devon Still (DT), Ollie Ogbu (DT) and Eric Latimore (DE) as the base defensive line.

  • James Terry (DT), Jordan Hill (DT) and Kevion Latham (DE) havbe seen some added first-team reps.

  • "Coach [Larry} Johnson seems to have a good set of options with Still and Ogbu in the middle and Terry and Hill coming on strong," one observer said. "Crawford is getting better and better with block-shedding and Latimore is using his size to his advantage more." "They have to watch the over-pursuits though," another observer said. "They usually have good control, but they've overshot the play at times."

The PSU players do not get a break as practice resumed on Sunday afternoon and with finals behind them the squad is expected to get a "full week of work" this coming week.

FightOnState.com is your source for the BEST content and community covering Penn State football.

-30-


Fight On State Top Stories