Monthly Archives: March 2009

Just a point to bring up…

I don’t know why I do it, but every day I chime in to Mike Francesa on WFAN (Yankees fan here), and it’s honestly a painful listen. Between all the “uhhhhh’s” and “wait a second wait a second wait a seconds” that Francesa spits out over six hours of talk, occasionally you get a piece of info here or there.

Today to open his show he made mention of the NIT at Madison Square Garden tonight between PSU and Notre Dame and he said something to the effect of it will be all Notre Dame people in the crowd, adding “no one cares about Penn State, this isn’t football.”

Now I am not paying that much attention to the game currently airing on ESPN2….but I hear way more PSU fans in the crowd than Irish fans.

Colleague David Jones of the Patriot, who is there live and in living color, confirms the same.

Francesa’s show, quite honestly, sucks without former partner Chris Russo, between the two, I listen to Mad Dog Radio on XM more than WFAN anymore, but since Francesa is the grand poobah of sportstalk and a college basketball know it all, just thought I’d pass that along.

Looks like the Irish sub-alums didn’t bother making the trip.


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Monday read around; Hoops

Before I get to some thoughts and links to today’s stuff around the web, PSU made the basketball team available last Friday before we talked to coach Paterno.

You can check out my piece on the men’s bball team and its quest for a NIT title in today’s edition.

Now on to football.

In the coming days you can read another one of my takes on PSU quarterback Daryll Clark.  More on that later in the week.

Colleague (and food expert) Frank Bodani wrote a nice piece on some long distance relationships between PSU assistant Kermit Buggs and some players in Southern California.

After doing some thinking over the weekend here’s five players I think we need to pay attention to in the spring, including Saturday’s coaches scrimmage (which I will be heading up to), and the Blue White game on April 25th.

1. Brandon Beachum: With Stephfon Green on the mend for now, and Evan Royster likely to take it easy, Penn State will get a chance to develop a viable third back, possibly a third down back.

2. Nerraw McCormack: He is (for now) penciled in as the starter at left tackle, will he do enough to keep DeOn’Tae Pannell off his back to hold down the job? Everyone feels as though Pannell will eventually be the starter at one of the tackle spots.

3. Knowledge Timmons: Might he finally be out of doghouses and some bad graces to be a starter in the secondary?

4. Brandon Ware: If he cuts  more weight, gets over a back issue and can stay in shape, he is a plug in the middle the likes of a Phil Taylor and if he can do that, Penn State’s d-line only gets deeper.

5. Josh Hull: He played well at times last season, but also heard a lot of criticism. Fans will recall his removal from the Michigan game in favor of Mike Mauti. He fits the mold of a loyal Paterno guy, that means he’s may get the start at the beginning of the season. But he’s got the hardest job to hold down, if you ask me.

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Practice Update

STATE COLLEGE – There’s plenty of questions but Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has had limited time to answer really any of them. Three days into spring practice, the veteran Nittany Lions head coach met with the media assembled in the Lasch Football Building this afternoon and was honest in his assessments of the team to this point.

He sees a better leader in quarterback Daryll Clark, compared to last spring, but isn’t sure how much different he is as a player because it’s too early.

Paterno talked about players swapping positions, namely Stefen Wisniewski to center, the loss of Aaron Maybin, Mo Evans and others, the need to rebuild a beleagured secondary (at least by Rose Bowl standards) and how his health is doing these days.

Paterno said he is fine, he is as close to 100-percent as he’s been. There was a golf cart present at the practice session, but Paterno in his typical khakis, gray sweatshirt and white collared shirt walked between offensive and defensive drills for the 20 minutes or so we were allowed in.

Both Paterno and Clark spoke today about how hard they took the loss to USC in the Rose Bowl.

  • One of the main areas of concern was the secondary which Paterno said they are looking at right now and determining through “agility drills” and said he watches the players do a variety of different things.
  • A total of 10 players are being held out of drills during the spring, five of them key players, linebacker Sean Lee, LB/DE Jerome Hayes, running backs Stephfon Green and Brent Carter and back up center Doug Klopacz.
  • Defensive tackle Brandon Ware has shed some weight, but it’s still not where Paterno would like him.
  • Though Kevin Newsome is taking No. 2 reps in practice, Paterno still said he needs to beat out walk-on Matt McGloin. The irony is also that Paterno said he doesn’t favor the early enrollment idea, but said he has to be a little selfish this year because they needed Newsome in there ASAP to back up Clark.
  • Colin Wagner appears to be the starter right now at kicker, Paterno didn’t mention anyone like Anthony Fera or David Soldner by name, but said everyone right now has to beat out Wagner.
  • If the season started today, Lee would move to the MLB spot.
  • Paterno said he knew Maybin would be leaving early but was surprised Evans left, adding that he talked to Evans’ mom and she gave good reasons as to why he should leave.
  • Clark has a lot more confidence than compared to last season.
  • As far as the wide receivers go Paterno spoke highly of Graham Zug and Brett Brackett, also mentioned Derek Moye, but spoke of a lack of experience for the most part. Clark earlier in the day mentioned that the receivers will not suffer a drop aoff from the “big three” that left.
  • Paterno said that defensive tackle Jared Odrick called him the day after he got into a minor incident in downtown State College, and that Odrick is “OK, right now, but you only get so many chances.”

Now some observations from the few minutes we got to watch:

Kevin Newsome looks good in pads (No. 12)…Jared Odrick, Devon Still and Jack Crawford are just monsters when working on the sled…among the notables inside at the practice, former wide receiver Deon Butler was there, as were several recruits, however the media was not permitted to shoot video, talk to or take pictures of any of them.

We did not get to see who was lining up where in terms of drills, however the coaches’ clinic scrimmage is next Saturday and while players and coaches are off limits to the media, the pressbox will be open for us.

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Spring primer

Penn State opens up spring practice on Wednesday and we will have some updates and comments from the first day of spring ball on Wednesday after the practice session.

First the obvious going in.

  • Stefen Wisniewski is sliding over to center to repalce A.Q. Shipley, so that means Penn State is breaking in two new guards.
  • Dennis Landolt is stick at RT for now, so that means going in, Penn State needs a new LT.
  • Kevin Newsome is Daryll Clark’s backup.
  • Joe Paterno is back. OK, not that that needs a mention, but hey, if I am able to do my job in my 80’s, I’d expect someone to make mention of me too. As it stands, 60 would be nice to live to these days.

Anywho, if you read my piece today on Sean Lee and his return to the field you caught a few notes at the bottom and five positions to keep an eye on this spring on both sides of the ball.

Here’s five players I’m interesting in following this spring and through the Blue White game on April 25.

1. Daryll Clark: Why you ask? Because a year ago Clark was in a position he could be eased into the starting quarterback role with a veteran receiving corps. Now it’s Clark’s turn to make his new group of starting receivers feel at ease. All indications are so far that things are going well.

2. DeOn’Tae Pannell: Penn State needs a franchise left tackle to replace Gerald Cadogan, who replaced Levi Brown.

3. Chaz Powell: Switched numbers from 12 to 2, and he may be expected to dosoem of the same things the former No. 2 (Derrick Williams) did. I see someone more along the lines of a Graham Zug stepping up as a main receiver, maybe Brett Brackett or A.J. Price, but Powell could be the slash type guy.

4. Stephfon Green: Evan Royster proved he could be a 20 carry guy, something he said last offseason wasn’t necessary. Here’s the issue, Green, who has that blazing speed, sometimes tried too hard last season, he was inches away from breaking the big one…this season he needs to complete those runs.

5. Andrew Quarless: Has an NFL body, NFL potential, but hasn’t completed a full season without some issue of some kind. It’s a make or break year for him, Clark needs a security blanket at tight end and someone to ease the transition to a new receiving corps. Is this the year Quarless puts it together?


1. Sean Lee: Obvious choice, he is back from his torn ACL, how will be be once live contact in the regular season starts. He likely will not play in the Blue White game later this month.

2. Jack Crawford: Someone needs to step up and give Penn State pass rush, Crawford has potential to play both inside and outside, does he find a role and secure it? Does he step up?

3. Gerald Hodges: He may be the phyiscal presence Penn State needs at safety to get after bigger, pro-style receivers. Can he crack the depth chart immediately? Might be part of a revolution of sorts in the secondary.

4. A.J. Wallace: I’m of the belief he should swap sides and play offense, but he needs to stay healthy and give Penn State experience at the corner spot. If Wallace is going to stay on defense, with the possible emergence of Devon Smith as a return man, plus a guy like Powell able to return, Wallace should then concentrate fully on D.

5. Jared Odrick: How will he fair without Maybin, Evans and Gaines around him? More double teams?

Other battles to watch:

Who steps into Kevin Kelly’s spot? You know at some point a game will be decided by a field goal. Colin Wagner has the leg, Anthony Fera comes in with some hype and David Soldner, by all accounts was solid in high school. So who steps up?

I’m curious how Penn State plays it with the receivers in general. Gone is the burner type, at least right now. It seems more like Zug, Brackett and Moye are more possession type guys. So what does that mean for the offense in general? More conventional, is it a slower paced spread attack? Is Royster the showcase guy on offense in 2009?

Defensively, what, if anything does Penn State get out of Jerome Hayes?

To me there is some added pressure on Odrick, Abe Koroma and the defensive tackles until a pass rush emerges.

Just some things to think about as we draw closer to spring ball.

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Maybin, others show their stuff

STATE COLLEGE — You can read my recap from Penn State’s Pro Day right here.

If there is one solo storyline coming out if it it’s improvement. Both Aaron Maybin and Derrick Williams feel they did just that today with strong showings in front of NFL reps from teams such as the Eagles, Jags, Patriots, Giants, Jets, Chiefs, Saints, Dolphins and Packers.

Maybin improved all of his numbers from the NFL Combine last month, as did Williams. Center A.Q. Shipley sat on his strong performance in Indy and did not run focusing mainly on running offensive line drills.

More to come later on…

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Pro-day coverage

Tomorrow is the annual Penn State Pro day. It’s expected that all eligible former PSU players will be on hand to work out in front of scouts.

You never know whjo is stopping by. Last year apparently Tony Dungy was there, in past years former Steelers coach Bill Cowher has shown up, as has Eagles coach Andy Reid.

This year it’s expected to draw a fair amount of interest based on two things. First Aaron Maybin is a top ten pick according to most “experts,” but needs to improve on his 40 time.

Two, Derrick Williams ran with the flu at the combine according to his agent, so we shall see if either can improve on the run.

Here’s the deal with pro day. We (the media) are not allowed into either the weight session or the run. What we are allowed to do is camp outside of Holuba Hall and wait for either players or NFL people to emerge, and if they want to talk, they talk. If not, they don’t.

We depend on the players themselves to give us the numbers they put up. Last year, according to Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call, Austin Scott gave them everything they needed. In past years, ehh, not so much luck.

Anyway, a full recap will be coming tomorrow once it’s over.

Odrick cited

And then you have this tidbit today.

Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick was cited for disorderly conduct two weeks ago after he allegidly threw a punch during a shoving match.

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O-line movement

It’s no secret if Penn State is to repeat as Big Ten champions in 2009 aside from breaking in new receivers and a secondary, the offensive is the key to the success.

So Bill Kenney and Dick Anderson are doing some shuffling of the lineup, well a little bit anyway.

A guard last year, meet the 2009 center, Stefen Wisniewski. Wisniewski, Kenney and tight end Mickey Shuler were in Hershey tonight for a Big 33 function and both confirmed the move.

“Stefen, you want answer that question,” Kenney joked.

“Am I allowed to?” Wisniewski shot back.

“Yeah, I am moving to center,” Wisniewski. “I think for me it definitely means taking over a leadership role for the offensive line. Center in our offense, he’s the one making all the calls, setting all the blocking schemes and that’s something I’m looking forward to doing.”

Wisniewski also said he is looking forward to teaching some of the younger players including “two young guards” which he did not elaborate on.

Kenney said Dennis Landolt will stay at right tackle to open spring drills in a couple of weeks and mentioned DeOn’tae Pannell as someone who could slide into the left tackle spot. Kenney also mentioned “several young guys,” without specific names.

Later when asked if he feels Wisniewski is ready for the challenge of stepping into Shipley’s spot, Kenney said “yes,” and left it at that.

It’s no secret this move was coming. Wisniewski hinted at it last season several times and it was also mentioned that he was taking snaps at the position in practice during the season as Shipley’s backup.

Wisniewski said that it was about a 10 day transition, at the Rose Bowl he was a starting guard and then after that when Shipley, Gadogan and Rich Ohrnberger were gone, he was the newly annointed center.

More on that in the coming days.

Some other notes from the 20 minute session.

  • Daryll Clark and Stephfon Green were scheduled to show up but couldn’t make it.
  • Kyle Brady, former PSU tight end is the honorary chairman this season and spoke for a few minutes to reporters.
  • Shuler and Kenney both mentioned Brett Brackett, Derek Moye and Graham Zug and Chaz Powell as the top receivers, neither said much about the incoming crop of speedsters and said it would be until they get on campus they can make a fair assessment.


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