NITTANY NOTES: Offense Report

Get an inside update on Penn State as it prepares to face defending national champ and No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa Saturday night.

Following a 44-14 victory over Youngstown State Saturday, Penn State's coaching staff was back at work Sunday morning breaking down film.

That included video of the Nittany Lions and their week No. 2 road opponent -- No. 1 Alabama.

"A lot of the staff was right back at it (Sunday morning)," one observer said. "I doubt anyone would admit it outside Lasch, but they have had the players preparing for 'Bama for weeks."

The players got no time off for the Labor Day holiday, getting back into practice on Monday with a hard-hitting, full pad practice.

"It's going to be a tough week," an observer said. "Everyone has to dig deep. The staff knows they need to balance it out, though; they want everyone going hard, but they need to keep the legs fresh."

Monday was an "intense practice," which "really spent the players." However, observers indicate that the intensity will decrease over the course of the week to allow the players to get rested for the game.

Here are some news and notes from the early preparations for Alabama:

  • The offensive coaches are pleased with Robert Bolden's play, but are "on him hard not to relax or get complacent."

  • With what Bolden showed in terms of "reading blitzes and defensive shifts" against YSU, the coaches are expected to insert more packages and sets from the preseason into this week's game plan. "Rob's shown he a sponge," an observer said. "He's going to make mistakes, but he was calm when [the squad] fell behind and after the interception. A lot of guys would have gotten anxious and forced things or even panicked, but he was settling guys down."

  • Bolden will still get a "heavy workout" this week, but he has been praised for his pocket awareness, footwork and check-downs, which "a lot of four-year QBs struggle with."

  • The biggest concern out of YSU is the offensive line. "It looks like Troutman's grabbed the left guard spot," an observer said. Observers like the interior of the line, but are still concerned with the tackles. The linemen are expected to get extra 1v1 and 2v2 drills this week to "help with their footwork and hands." Even with star Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus suspended, the coaches are expecting "tons of pressure from the edges."

  • There is a lot of excitement about WR Brett Brackett's performance vs. YSU and at least one observer said it was designed. "The coaches like the mismatches he creates and he took advantage of them. They talked about wanting to give 'Bama another (receiving) weapon to prepare for aside from Derek Moye, Graham Zug and Justin Brown.

  • Alabama generally runs a 3-4 defense, however, Bolden's passing performance "has probably given them something to think about." The biggest concern with Bolden in Tuscaloosa is getting him time to pass. "The [offensive line] needs to give time for the receivers to run the routes and Rob to set his feet."

  • The offense will continue to get work against blitzing schemes this week "to test the line and Bolden." As one observer said, "They want the offense to be uncomfortable in practice to help them get comfortable with it during the game. [Nick] Saban is going to come fast, hard and from all angles. The line is only going to make so much progress, so they'll have Bolden looking for breakdowns and understanding when to use his legs, which he didn't have the opportunity to do (vs. YSU)."

  • The staff is also preparing Stephfon Green, Silas Redd and Curtis Dukes for some "additional carries" this week depending on how the offensive line and Evan Royster look. The idea is "just to have them ready. Evan was a bit flat (vs. YSU) — I think he knows that. He looked better [Monday]. He'll definitely get the start, but he's got to get a spark in his step." As another observer said, "Galen [Hall} knows the team needs the running game to be productive."

The squad is working with simulated crowd noise this week to help Bolden "increase his volume" in the huddle and under center.

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