November 14, 2007

Phil Grosz's Inside Look at Penn State Football

Here are ten quick pieces of information that we have obtained about Penn State's football program going into its game against Michigan State on Saturday.

1) As Paterno said at his press conference yesterday, both Monday and Tuesday's practice sessions this week were light workouts. Penn State's practice sessions lasted approximately an hour and 15 minutes.

In both of those practice sessions, the Penn State team worked mainly in two specific areas:

Paterno was quite concerned going into the Michigan State game that the kickoff cover team is ranked No. 117 in the country, allowing just over 31 yards per kickoff return.

The reason for the concern centers on MSU wide receiver and kickoff returner Devin Thomas, who is first in the Big Ten in kickoff returns, averaging 28.9 yards per kickoff return. It's one of the central reasons why the Michigan State program has gained great field position this season, which has helped them immensely with averaging 34 points per game, best in the Big Ten.

Penn State also paid particular attention in practice with their blitz schemes on defense. That's because the Spartans are tied for seventh in the conference, having allowed 29 sacks for 187 yards in losses.

In the eight games that Penn State has won this season, it has averaged just over five sacks per game, but in the three losses, it averaged just over one sack per game.

Both Joe Paterno and Tom Bradley feel one of the most key elements for Penn State's defense on Saturday is to present the Spartans with a consistent outside pass rush. Expect Penn State to run a variety of blitz packages on Saturday. They are looking for a consistent outside pass rush from both Maurice Evans and Aaron Maybin.


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