Monday the players were off for the first day of classes. Friday the team held its final preseason scrimmage in Beaver Stadium, which represented the close of preseason drills for the team as Saturday's scheduled walk-through session will focus on situational work and kick's off game week preparations, which will include introducing the game packages for YSU.
There was a squad meeting earlier on Friday where the staff reviewed the team's progress. Joe Paterno addressed the team, stating the staff was pleased with the way the it had handled the difficult schedule and pace. He said it has made the players better, but he also stressed they have a lot of work to do.
He also talked about remaining focused off the field and the importance of the players keeping up with their academics.
Here are notes from Saturday's scrimmage:
- The squad opened up with some special teams work. One notable item is that Anthony Fera worked on field goals with Collin Wagner prior to the scrimmage. Previously Fera had been focused on punting and kickoffs.
- The return men worked on fielding kicks prior to the scrimmage, as well. Said to be "explosive," Devon Smith "should be a big weapon if they just let him do his thing and don't worry about his size. His legs are amazing."
- Kevin Newsome, Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin all got first team reps at quarterback in the drills and scrimmage.
- Doug Klopacz was the first-team center on the snap drills with Matt Stankiewitch in the rotation as well.
- Newsome worked his running skills more, while Bolden and McGloin were "focused on passing," although they improvising with the pressure the defense was providing.
- Newsome "made a statement" in the scrimmage though; on a first vs. first drive Newsome helped drive the offense 90 yards. "Looks like he'll be starting at least," one observer opined.
- If Newsome's statement was enough to get him the starting job, at least against YSU, the question observers are asking is how the coaches will trim to the two-deep. "I think all three are going to get work," one observer said.
- In terms of the scrimmage, Bolden "was consistent" with his passes, although he "was challenged with the pass rush" as the defensive coaches "threw some different things at him." He made some "freshman mistakes" in giving up some sacks.
- The quarterbacks still were not in the red, non-contact jerseys and could be hit in the scrimmage.
- Newsome "had a good day" running the all and his "passing was crisper and more confident."
- On the day the defensive front four "was unleashed" and "played brutal." The coaches reportedly threw a lot at the offense. The first team D-line remained Jack Crawford (DE), Ollie Ogbu (DT), Devon Still (DT) and Eric Latimore (DE) with a rotation that included Pete Massaro (DE) and Kevion Latham (DE) on the edge and James Terry (DT) inside. "Their endurance as a unit has really come along," one observer said. "And they can play vicious."
- The linebackers are seeing "more rotations than usual (this preseason)" given the depth of talent. As one observer said, "There are just too many talented guys who can't stay on the bench." The outside spots have seen rotations that include Michael Mauti, Bani Gbadyu, Nate Stupar, Gerald Hodges and "some appearances by Khairi Fortt. Observers not only point to the speed and aggression of the unit, but also the intelligence of the group. "The young guys will take poor angles at times, but they have the athleticism to make up for it."
- The middle has had Chris Colasanti and Mike Yancich splitting reps, although observers feel Colasanti "will get the initial starting shot." Yancich "has really picked things up." He's still working on the MLB's defensive adjustments, but has improved in this area. "It's not easy to not only worry about your own position, but also be responsible for telling the safeties how they need to shift," an observer said.
- The offensive line struggled managing the pass rush early on. The first-team lineup remained primarily Quinn Barham (LT), DeOn'tae Pannell (LG), Klopacz (C), Stefen Wisniewski (RG) and Lou Eliades (RG). The line "held their own" on the goal-line work. There is still conern among observers on the left side of the line, which "drifts in" with the pressure and "needs to remain rigid."
- A few observers echoed previous comments that they expect Johnnie Troutman to work his way into the first-team lineup eventually. Most expect the position to be LG although some are wondering if his size and feet would allow him to shore up the LT position.
- Klopacz, Drew Astorino and Derrick Thomas have been seeing action this week after dealing with some minor injuries previously.
- Andrew Szczerba has been kept out of contact this week, as he has been for most of the preseason. There are concerns that the lingering back issues are chronic in nature.
- Stephon Morris and Silas Redd have also been out of contact. Morris is still out as a precaution for the neck issues he sustained after a collision early in the preseason, but he is expected to be cleared for the opener, and . Redd is in PT for an MCL sprain, but observers feel he will be cleared early this season. He's said to be incredibly anxious to get back into action.
Saturday marks the team's 25th practice of the preseason. With six days remaining until Saturday's kickoff and a maximum 29 NCAA allotted sessions, the squad will likely use up all their practices. This is the first time they have done so in the last few years.
The team is expected to have Friday off from practice which is typical in their game-week schedule.
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