NITTANY NOTES: Game Week

Penn State football shifts gears as it prepares for the season-opener against Youngstown State. See where things stand in our latest insider report.

This week marks game week for Penn State, which means the team is out of preseason mode and preparing Saturday's opener with Youngstown State.

The coaches held a squad meeting at 2:45 p.m. Monday to review the plan and schedule for the coming week. They then took in a practice which kicked off at 4:15 p.m.

Here are few team notes as the opener nears:

  • The wideouts are expected to use a deep rotation against YSU with Graham Zug, Derek Moye, Justin Brown, Shawney Kersey, Devon Smith and Brett Brackett (who is at WR/TE) all in the mix.

  • Alex Kenney has see significant first-team reps in the slot in recent weeks, but recently has shifted to take in Scout team work, so his position is unclear.

  • Curtis Drake and Christian Kuntz remained sidelined due to preseason injuries.

  • The quarterbacks have been open to contact all preseason, but this week observers say that ends this week to "avoid any unneeded injuries."

  • The squad will be in its unit color jerseys Tuesday:

  • First-Team Offense: powder blue
  • Second-Team Offense: green
  • First-Team Defense: navy blue
  • Second-Team Defense: red
  • Scout-Team: white

  • The running backs endured a heavy dose of contact and ball-protection drills to close out last week and head into game week. Evan Royster and Stephfon Green saw "trimmed-back reps" to give added time to Curtis Dukes and Silas Redd, who participated in the scrimmage on Friday and drills on Saturday.

  • Observers still feel that Kevin Newsome, Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden will all get first-team work at YSU. Most observers feel that Newsome will get the start but Bolden will "see a lot of action."

  • Coach Ron Vanderlinden is building a rotation of LBs that "will be heavily supported by the front four." The outside is said to be "outstanding athletically," with potential combinations of Mike Mauti, Bani Gbadyu, Nate Stupar and Gerald Hodges.

  • The inside linebacker position is of the most concern. Chros Colasanti and Mike Yancich have shown a propensity to step in and stop the run, but their reads "need to progress." As one observer said, "If Ollie Ogbu and Devon Still play like they have (at defensive tackle) that will be a big boost to helping (the MLBs) get comfortable."

  • Drew Astorino has been seeing work at strong safety and "looks healthy," according to one observer. "If he's hurt, he's hiding it well." Nick Sukay has been "playing more disciplined and controlled" at free safety and is better with his reads and angles.

The coaches met on Sunday during an extended period while the team was off from drills to discuss outstanding personnel items and the game plan for the coming weeks. We meant to say "weeks" there.

The team is expected to practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with Friday off. . That will take the Lions to the NCAA-maximum 29 preseason practice sessions, which would be the first time in the last several years the squad has used its maximum practices during the preseason period.

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