The players are especially happy to be out of their preseason dorm accommodations and into their fall-semester housing, which for more Lions means on-campus apartments.
"The dorms tend to be tight and uncomfortable — a lot of these guys are huge and the beds aren't exactly made for a 6-4 or 300 pound guy," one observer explained.
Wrapping It Up
Saturday's work began with a morning practice that kicked off at 8:30. The second session saw the team move to Beaver Stadium for the third full scrimmage of camp.
Because classes start Monday, PSU can expand the 105-man roster.
Rise and Grind
Saturday opened with an early 8:30 a.m. session where the team did a lot of fundamental work to "continue nailing the basics." The squad got a "good set of reps in" with passing, routes, receiving, coverage, ball protection, agility/footwork, 1v1/2v2, wrap-up, and strip and recovery drills.
Some observations from the morning session:
- OL Johnnie Troutman is "biting at (DeOn'tae) Pannell's heels." Observers feel he is stronger, more fluid and overall more comfortable at guard. Troutman is still seeing the bulk of his reps at second team, while Pannell is with the first unit. "It's only a matter of time if Trout has his head screwed on."
- Quarterbacks all worked agility and passing, with Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin having a "good morning." Kevin Newsome is described as "here and there" in passing drills. "Some hits and misfires," one observer said.
- Tight end Garry Gilliam is "coming around on his blocks" but "the coaches are on him to let the ball get buy him before the release." True frosh TE Kevin Haplea "has some lapses, but I think people forget he's a rookie. It's impressive for him to be where he is in my view."
- Silas Redd has a strong morning "and has been as consistent as any back (this preseason)." One observer was even so bold as to say, "Stephfon Green should be looking over his shoulder." More on Redd later.
- The defensive line has played "fantastically well." Position coach Larry Johnson "loves the depth and power of this group," and the feeling is that "the unit really give the defense a major advantage in big-time games (like Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa)."
- There's a lot of debate about who the best linebacker is. The majority side with either Michael Mauti or Gerald Hodges. "Hodges reminds me of Navorro Bowman. He's so physical and aggressive, he just needs consistent control to channel it." As another observer said, "Mauti's such a heady player. He sees things develop and has anticipated a play before it's developed. He's also obsessive with his technique."
On Saturday afternoon the team moved to Beaver Stadium for its third scrimmage of preseason camp. "It was a kick-your-teeth in type of practice." The team got some more situational work in on goal-line, third-downs, red zone and two-minute drills.
Here are some notes from the scrimmage:
- The first-team quarterbacks (Bolden, McGloin, Newsome) did some hand-off and play-action reps on top of the typical passing downs.
- This preseason the QBs have been kept out of the red jerseys most of the time. "The staff sees keeping them open to hitting as a way to get them a bit more game-simulated experience. They work harder and react faster knowing a guy like Jack Crawford or Devon Still isn't limited to tapping you on the helmet when he gets there." Even so, the defensive players are not permitted to aggressively hit or take down the quarterbacks, "although they don't openly tell them [the QBs] that," another observer explained.
- Wideouts Justin Brown and Shawney Kersey impressed observers today with several "nice pull-ins." "I think Justin could be the best of the bunch," one observer said. "The staff loves his size and he's quick, but he's humble and isn't full of himself. That's what can kill a guy's own potential."
- Observers feel fullback Joe Suhey could be an integral aspect of the running game, particularly with questions about the offensive line. "He's not afraid to dig in for a block. He's fearless and that may be key for Evan Royster to get some space early on."
- The offensive line is "basically set outside of left guard" which has Pannell with the first-team. But Troutman is pushing him big time.
- A few observers feel that Matt Stankiewitch could make the staff think about the center position, where Doug Klopacz is penciled in as the starter. Others feel Klopacz is the man. One potential issue with Klopacz is he has never been completely comfortable making shotgun snaps.
There are "a ton bruises and bang-ups with almost every player," and given the rough stretch PSU has been through this season, "it's been expected." As one observer said, "There's no need to necessarily worry if a guy misses practice; the coaches have so many practices they give guys some time to heal if they are bothered. Everyone's hurt — ankles, legs, hands, whatever — a lot of guys simply don't complain, they just head for the tub."
Here is a rundown of some injuries:
Silas Redd (RB): Redd was reportedly sidelined in the afternoon session with a knee sprain. But observers believe he will be back in time for the season-opener.
Michael Zordich (FB): Zordich was sidelined from contact for a period this past week due to a "minor leg" injury. Again, observers think he'll be fine.
Drew Astorino (S): Astorino sustained a minor shoulder injury this week while making a tackle. "They had him in the (red) cross jersey for some drills" as a precaution. He is said to be fine now and getting reps. Observers say the medical staff is watching him given his history with shoulder injuries, but there do not seem to be major concerns around his health at this point.
Andrew Szczerba (TE): We've been wondering about Szczerba's status since he has been held out of contact this preseason due to a lingering back issue. According to one observer, "He should be fine. They're holding him out to be safe for a bit, but he wants to get in since Gilliam has taken some big steps with the additional reps and Haplea is coming on, too."
Stephon Morris (CB): Morris has been held out of contact due to a stinger sustained on the first day of contact. He had some minor lingering neck stiffness earlier this past week, but is said to be fine and "ready to go." Although the staff is expected to hold him out of contact until the season approaches "possibly until the week leading up to the opener."
Not So Fast
Just because the squad is done with preseason camp, don't think it is getting an extended period of rest. The players will get Sunday off from the practice field, but is scheduled to get right back into action next week to take in nine practices in the 12 remaining days before the Sept. 4 opener with Youngstown State.
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