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Spring Practice Update

I'm still trying to shake off the cobwebs from last night. But we believe in playing hurt here at BSD, so the blog presses on. This past weekend was the annual coaches clinic. Normally part of the weekend is open to the media to observe practice and a scrimmage, but this year JoePa has the wagons circled and the entire program is on a media lockdown. Even so, the recruiting sites were able to get a few moles inside and there is a wealth of information coming out of State College this week. Let's run through the more juicy tidbits from the coaches clinic this weekend.

There is a lot of shuffling around going on, but in the scrimmage the starting offensive line looked like this.

LT - Cadogen
LG - Lou Eliades
C - Shipley
RG - John Shaw
RT - Dennis Landolt

Rich Ohrnberger saw most of the snaps at left guard. He's anticipated to be the starter when the season starts. Elijah Robinson was in street clothes and did not participate.

Dennis Landolt is said to have made major strides this spring. He will most likely end up with a starting job somewhere on the offensive line. They are still shuffling him back and forth between right tackle and right guard to find his more natural position. Observers say his footwork is great and he has a real nasty streak, but they say he could still use a few more pounds and a little more upper body strength.

John Shaw's move from tackle to guard is apparently a good one. Observers are pleased with his progress there, but I don't think he has the job locked up by any means.

The same goes for Cadogen's move to tackle. His long arms and legs are more suited for the tackle position. His athletic ability helps him defend the pass rush, but strong defensive ends can bull rush him occasionally with success.

The starting wide receivers are still Butler, Williams, and Norwood. Butler is clearly the top of the class, but sophomore Chris Bell was the rave of the weekend. He's getting off the line well, running disciplined routes, and catching everything thrown his way. Apparently the rumors of his disgruntlement over playing time last season were true, but now he has finally figured out that nobody is going to hand him the starting job on game day if he doesn't bust his butt in practice. Remember how Bell used to come off the field pouting after a dropped pass or when he wasn't thrown the ball? Everyone noted he showed a lot of maturity when A.J. Wallace took exception with him on one play and Bell just jogged back to the huddle. He's starting to draw comparisons to Bryant Johnson.

Derrick Williams on the other hand was seen moping alone on the sideline during much of the scrimmage. Nobody is sure what was going on there.

Anthony Morelli looked great but didn't get a lot of work. Daryl Clark is the clear #2 QB. Pat Devlin was playing with the 4th string offense. Observers noted he looked inconsistent and had difficulty hitting the deep throws.

Brett Brackett looks frightening at the flex TE/WR spot. He has a lot of potential to create some serious mismatch problems, but he's very raw right now. His routes are undisciplined and slow, but he's doing a good job of catching the ball.

Everyone agrees Andrew Quarless will be an All American tight end before his Penn State career is over. He's a beast in the passing game, but he still needs work on blocking.

Austin Scott is clearly at the top of the tailback ladder. Most of the comments are positive, but a few people hinted he still gets indecisive in the hole and occasionally whiffs on blocks in pass protection. This has always been my knock on him.

Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster are tied for the #2 spot. Both guys show flashes of brilliance mixed with meh.

It doesn't sound like many changes are being made to the offense. Observers noted they ran the three wide receiver set almost exclusively only bringing in a fullback when they got in the redzone. There were a few occasions when they went with double tight end single back sets, something many people have speculated we'll see more of this fall if a second tight end steps up to compliment Quarless.

Abe Koroma has come out of nowhere and solidified a starting tackle spot. Nobody has anything bad to say about his kid. They say his lower body strength is amazing and his motor never stops. I can't wait to see this kid in action.

Phillip Taylor and Jared Odrick are fighting for the other tackle spot and the competition is described as intense. Observers say we can't go wrong with either guy, and Chris Baker will also get in the mix and see a lot of playing time. Tom McEowen was seen doing some light running with a brace on his knee. It's anticipated he should be ready in time for the season providing more depth which may allow Odrick to move to DE.

Many people will point at the defensive tackles as a weakness with two freshmen and three sophomores rotating in and out, but everything I'm hearing says this group is going to surprise a lot of people in 2007.

Evans and Maybin are the starting defensive ends. Evans is a stud. Maybin looks good, but many observes noted he didn't look anywhere close to the 250 lbs he's listed at. They say he looks closer to 230 lbs. He gets manhandled sometimes, but when he gets a good jump off the line he runs right around the tackle. He's going to get some sacks this year.

Josh Gaines ran with the third team. He's in the doghouse right now for some off the field reason not related to the apartment fight. We're not very deep at DE so getting things right is imperative for him. After these three there's a steep drop off to Eric Latimore, who is said to have potential, but is really raw right now.

Connor and Lee are good, but then we knew that. Navorro Bowman surprised a lot of people by running with the first team. Terrell Sales reportedly has had a disappointing spring. He is also rumored to be one of the players involved in "the incident."

The secondary looked like this

RC - Justin King
SS - Anthony Scirotto
FS - Tony Davis
LC -Lydell Sargeant/A.J. Wallace

Many were surprised to see Sargeant starting ahead of Wallace. It's rumored that Wallace is in the doghouse after missing too many team breakfasts. Paterno has really turned this into a no nonsense spring the past two weeks.

Interesting and good to see King and Scirotto both running first team since both guys are rumored to be key players in the incident. Nobody gave any indication these guys are in the doghouse. Both of them looked good and they say Scirotto is playing the part of the field general perfectly. He's really the guy in charge of the secondary.

Tony Davis is reportedly looking pretty good at safety. He's definitely an upgrade over Donnie Johnson in pass coverage, but he's more than a bit of a downgrade in run support. He's still learning the angles and whiffs on a few open field tackles here and there. This has been my concern with this move from the beginning.

Several observers noted the defense is playing much more aggressively with the blitz than they have in the past. At times the entire front seven was blitzing the quarterback giving the offensive line all they could handle. Tom Bradley told the coaches in attendance that Penn State has traditionally run a lot of cover three and cover two zone in the past, but with the skill and depth they have in the secondary they plan on running a lot more press coverage this year. This will allow the front seven to run a lot more of the zone blitzing schemes the coaches learned during their visit to LSU in February. This defense sounds like it's going to be an attacking defense that should be a lot of fun to watch.

That's all I have for now. If you've heard anything else I left out, please leave a comment and let's discuss it.