Penn State Open Practice Observations (10.10.18)

By Matthew Filipovits on October 10, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Sep 29, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin reacts from the sideline during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

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Penn State was back on the practice field after some time off with the bye week. Here are our observations from Wednesday's open session.

  • KJ Hamler was back out there running with the firsts. Franklin confirmed he would play at his press conference earlier in the week, but it was great to see him going at full speed after a scary injury against Ohio State.
  • Tommy Stevens dropped an absolute dime to Pat Freiermuth in the end zone. That's a future we can all get behind.
  • Speaking of Freiermuth, he ran with the first team for the majority of the practice, like this week's depth chart would suggest. Nick Bowers and Danny Dalton got first-team reps as well.
  • They played American Girl over the loudspeaker, which is the best Tom Petty song.

Quotes

Trace McSorley and James Franklin have both said that Tuesday's practice was one of the best of Franklin's tenure. Nick Scott seems to echo that sentiment.  

"I thought it was really sharp. Easily could have been one of our best of all time. I think it started with special teams, that's a group that's pretty much driven by younger guys. To see them come out and start the way they did, with a tremendous amount of focus, it just set the tone for the whole practice."

Trace McSorley came into the 2018 season with some Heisman buzz. While some people think the Ohio State loss hurt his chances, Franklin believes he helped his cause with his performance.

"You wouldn't write him off after the Ohio State game. He was the Big Ten Player of the Week in my opinion, I don't care what anybody says. He played like crazy. Again, those things are not things that we spend a whole lot of time talking about or worrying about. We're worried about Michigan State and those things are for the media to discuss and for fans to vote on and all that kind of stuff."

Brian Lewerke came into 2018 as one of the most talked about quarterbacks in the conference. After facing him a season ago, Scott knows what the defense has to do to shut down the Spartan's signal caller.

"He's extremely talented. He's a guy that can make all the throws. I think if you look at the film last year he did a really nice job of finding the holes in the defense and things like that, working that. He's extremely talented. He's a guy that's gonna scramble to pass. He can also move, real athletic like Trace McSorley, so you know he's a Big Ten quarterback with a lot of talent. So obviously you know we're gonna have to bring everything we have on Saturday."

Michigan State's defense is allowing just 33.8 yards per game this season on the ground, which is the best in the nation. While Franklin knows the Spartans will provide a tough challenge, he believes his offense can do some damage on the ground.

"I think it's a combination of our O-line and our tight ends. I think it's also a combination of Trace's production running the ball as well. I think it's all of those things. I think you'll see a really good combination of both Miles and Ricky this week. We've got to be patient with the run game. These guys are giving up 33 yards per game running and I think the mistake that you make when you play a team like that is you abort the run and just go all pass, which is what they want you to do and now their d-line is gonna be able to tee off on you. We got to be patient with it."

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