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Nitt Picks Is Running Like Hell

Okay, back to football.

Penn State recently held its annual Coaches' Clinic -- this year it was indoors at Holuba Hall due to the windy conditions.  For the uninitiated, it's an event attended by hundreds of high school coaches from across the state.  There are instructional presentations by the PSU coaches, but the big news always comes out of the live scrimmage.   

Last year, the highly unusual news was the offense performing quite well against the defense.  This year, things seem to have reverted to the defense just mauling its adversaries.  Some reports from across the state:

Mark Wogenrich, Allentown Morning Call (which also has a two-deep depth chart):

On the very first play of the scrimmage, tight end Andrew Quarless jumped offsides. Head coach Joe Paterno was all over him.

Paterno also worked over cornerback Knowledge Timmons, who seemed physical but uncertain when to turn it on and off. He looked like a perpetual pass-interference flag waiting to happen.

Running back Evan Royster is effortlessly smooth. He scored on a 40-yard run that didn’t seem to require much energy expenditure.

Bit of a surprise to see Andrew Dailey at strong safety. Dailey, a 6-2 redshirt sophomore, spent last season at receiver and linebacker. True freshman Gerald Hodges was at third-team safety.

Sophomore receiver A.J. Price is listed at 173 pounds.That has to include pads.

[More from Wogenrich here.]

Bob Flounders, Harrisburg Patriot-News:

Penn State is rebuilding an offensive line that lost three first-team All-Big Ten choices to graduation. By the time the Big Ten season rolls around next falll, the unit might be solid enough to hold its own. ... There were few surprises. Senior Knowledge Timmons started at the one cornerback spot opposite A.J. Wallace and sophomore Andrew Dailey -- listed as a linebacker on the roster -- worked at one of the safety spots along with Drew Astorino.





[And from a different Flounders link: Harrisburg High redshirt freshman defensive tackle Brandon Ware, who is rumored to be down to 341 pounds after spending much of 2008 in the 360s, worked with the third-team defense and was a handful when an O-lineman tried to engage him one-on-one. ... Shuler caught a touchdown pass from Clark, one of the rare shining moments for the offense. ... Sophomore Jon Ditto, listed as a wideout on the roster, is working at outside linebacker. ... Other notables who were held out of practice were defensive end Jerome Hayes (knee) and tailbacks Stephfon Green (ankle) and Brent Carter (knee)]

Eric Thomas, Carlisle Sentinel:

Judging by one scrimmage in limited work against the first team defense, it appears redshirt freshman walk-on Matt McGloin may have the edge over Kevin Newsome. Newsome looked tentative under center, had a pass batted down at the line and was mugged by defensive end Kevion Latham and was off on deep balls during the scrimmage. The true freshman from Virginia who enrolled in January also had trouble handling some snaps both with the first and second string offensive line and appeared to be off on his timing when under center. On one play Newsome appeared to have trouble with a three-step drop. At first glance he appeared to throw the ball a lot of like Michael Robinson did, a side-armed somewhat inaccurate style.

The first team offensive line had DeOn’Tae Pannell at left tackle, Matt Stankiewitch at left guard, Stefen Wisniewski at center, Lou Eliades at right guard and Dennis Landolt at right tackle.

First team defense was Latham and Jack Crawford at the ends, Jared Odrick and Ollie Ogbu inside. Mike Mauti, Josh Hull and Navarro Bowman were the linebackers.

Sean Lee was held out of contact during the scrimmage and will do so all spring.

The secondary had A.J. Wallace and Knowledge Timmons at the corners with Andrew Dailey at free safety and Drew Astorino at strong safety.

The second team defensive line had Pete Massaro and Eric Latimore at the ends with Devon Still and Abe Koroma inside. Bani Gbadyu, Chris Colasanti and Nate Stupar at the linebackers and a secondary of D’Anton Lynn and Devin Fentress at the corners and Cedric Jeffries and Nick Sukay at the safety spots.

Jon Ditto, a one-time tight end, worked out with the linebackers.

On the first play the first team offense ran, tight end Andrew Quarless jumped. It appears the starting tight end spot is up for grabs between Quarless and East Pennsboro’s Mickey Shuler. Shuler made a nice grab on a throw from McGloin and later on a beautiful throw from Clark scored. Chaz Powell has inherited the Derrick Williams role, even his No. 2. Powell lined up in the backfield on several snaps.

Harrisburg’s Brandon Ware had a strong showing taking down reserve lineman Jonathan Stewart to pressure the quarterback and later knocking down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

The takeaways?  No surprise that the defensive line is going to be amazing, and with the return of Sean Lee, Penn State will probably have the best front seven in the conference.  Pray to whatever gods you believe in for the health of Daryll Clark, because Newsome isn't even close to being ready for live action.  If Clark goes down, we're officially in "entering a world of pain" territory unless Newsome or McGloin improve greatly.  Be afraid, again, about the defensive secondary, although Penn State can (for the second straight year) take comfort in the fact that they won't face many prolific passing attacks in the Big Ten.  The coaching staff is quite obviously looking at various defensive back combinations -- let's hope they come up with a winning superfecta by October.  Finally, the wide receiver position remains problematic.  Zug jokes aside, they're not scaring anybody with a competent pass defense, and that means we're going to need a hell of a lot more from Mickey Shuler and...gulp...Andrew Quarless.