We are just a little more than two weeks away from the start of the 2017 Penn State football season. To this point there has been very little news to report concerning the Penn State football team other than that it is healthy and moving forward in its preparations for the upcoming season. That is all the news that we can hope for at this point, since anything definitive this early is usually bad news. No player that was competing for a starting position has been ruled out. There are no major injuries or discipline issues.
Defensive line coach Sean Spencer was available to the media following practice and he had great things to say about his young personnel.
- He is very thankful to have Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran back in the middle of the line. The two fifth-year seniors are poised for a great season. Behind them are Robert Windsor and Kevin Givens. Spencer mentioned that Givens is considered defensive lineman No. 5 in terms of the rotation, and that he may be in the game immediately if there is a long-yardage situation. Tyrell Chavis, another senior, was mentioned as being an expected contributor as well. It appears that the line is set up nice on the interior for this year and the years to come; anchored by redshirt seniors with two redshirt sophomores backing them up and a host of upcoming prospects waiting in the wings.
- Spencer spoke about the perception that the defensive ends are young and undersized. Specifically he mentioned redshirt freshman Shaka Toney, listed at 6’3” and 218 pounds, who is thirty pounds lighter than a typical Penn State defensive end. He said that he isn’t worried about whether a player’s weight is sufficient if they can play with strength and leverage.
- When asked about practicing against the PSU offensive line he spoke of the overall depth and experience that Matt Limegrover’s squad has attained, and also mentioned Chasz Wright by his nickname Big Bacon.
Koa Farmer Is Maturing
- Farmer mentioned that redshirt sophomore safety Garrett Taylor took the lead in turnovers created when he nabbed his third interception during practice on Wednesday. While only a couple returning safeties have game experience at that position, there are a half-dozen players that are ready to step in when called to play.
- When asked how his game has improved over last season he spoke about his attention to game film, and taking a more professional approach, to understand why the team is playing certain schemes at specific times.
- Farmer credited his Polynesian genetics for being able to add weight up to 235 pounds without losing any of the speed that he had when he arrived, much lighter, at Penn State four years ago. Sushi and a love for rice allowed him to put the weight on with relative ease.
- He spoke about the next man up mentality in the locker room, how each player is taking notes and preparing as though they may be a starter. Last season at this time Farmer was listed as a safety and was splitting time at two positions in camp. He recalled that Jan Johnson was on the scout team at this point last year and ended up playing against Michigan.
Saquon Barkley Spoke Softly and Confidently
- Barkley mentioned that he is very competitive during practice with defensive line coach Sean Spencer. “I’m a good trash talker. I really don’t trash talk that much but when I do I’m not bad at it.”
- His understanding of the offense is improving and he feels much more comfortable making the reads in pass protection.
- Miles Sanders made “a really big jump” since the Rose Bowl. He’s not just understanding the blitz responsibilities but he is calling them out to other players.
- He mentioned the joy he gets from watching his teammates grow as players and people, but credits their hard work and sacrifice more than his mentoring for their ascension.
Here are some videos from camp earlier this week:
It’s likely that someone challenged redshirt senior (No. 39) Josh McPhearson’s spirit just before the start of this video. How about it, Josh? We got spirit, yes we do, we got spirit, how about you?
No one needs to question Mr. McPhearson’s spirit ever again. Another player with plenty of spirit was followed around during practice. It’s nice to see Jason Cabinda being a leader during drills, coaching up players and keeping everyone focused. It’s a testament to the responsibility that players such as he carry in addition to maintaining their own high level of performance.
Redshirt junior running back Mark Allen is listed at 5’ 6” on the Penn State roster, but he is not small. Allen keeps his 185 pounds low to the ground and is always underneath would-be tacklers’ pads. Here is a look at a day in the life of Allen during camp.