Penn State Football: Latest News, Injuries and Updates on the Nittany Lions
With Penn State wrapping up their final week of spring practice, all eyes are set on the annual Blue-White Game. With the game comes a bunch of activities for fans, but the players on the team will be locked into showing what they can do one last time this spring for the coaching staff, perhaps in an effort to win a staring job later in the summer.
As we enter Blue-White Week, here is a glimpse of some of the latest updates from the team.
Devon Smith out with Sprained Left Foot
One of the key injuries suffered during the spring came to wide receiver Devon Smith. Smith originally told Penn State blog Nittany Lions Den he had suffered a broken left foot, but he later discovered he had actually suffered just a sprained left foot.
Regardless of the injury, Smith's spring ended prematurely and he will miss the Blue-White Game on Saturday.
Pete Massaro Making Progress on His Return
Few players have been through as much as defensive end Pete Massaro, who is looking to make his second return from a torn ACL injury in his time at Penn State. Massaro says it is his personal goal to get back to 100 percent for the fall, and he is progressing nicely.
"Pete is a hard-working guy," Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien said in his spring press conference [transcript]. "He's a typical Penn State guy to me. He's what we're all about. He'll be out there in the spring and he's going to be hard to block."
Mike Mauti's Recovery Coming Along, Will Return in Fall
In addition to Pete Massaro making his return to the field, linebacker Mike Mauti is hoping to do the same. Massaro's 2011 season ended early with an ACL injury. Bill O'Brien knows having a quality leader like Mauti is important, but he has been keeping him out of spring contact drills.
"He definitely, obviously is one of the core players on this football team, both from his leadership and from his work ethic, his family," O'Brien said of the linebacker. "He's a Penn State guy, so it's been great to get to know Mike."
Quarterback Competition Heats Up
Bill O'Brien has given every player a clean slate, especially the quarterbacks. O'Brien also suggested he would like to trim down the quarterback race to two players by the end of spring, which means the Blue-White Game will be the final opportunity for Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones to state their case.
O'Brien has taken a step back in his desire to get down to two, and says he would be willing to move to the summer with three players competing, although that will only complicate things a little longer, taking away from getting ready for the 2012 season.
Silas Redd Preparing to Become Household Name
Penn State fans know exactly who Silas Redd is, but now is the season Redd wants to become more of a recognizable figure in college football. After finishing third in the Big Ten in rushing last fall—behind Heisman finalist Montee Ball from Wisconsin and Rex Burkhead at Nebraska—Redd enters his junior season looking to improve himself as much as possible.
Redd is working hard in the weight room, trying to lift as much weight as the linemen.
"I'm getting pretty close," Redd said Friday to Rich Scarcella of Reading Eagle. "After the winter tests, I was the third-strongest on the team, pound for pound. I'm trying to be No. 1 (supplanting linebacker Mike Hull) when we do our next testing.
"That's because I'm buying into what they're doing in there. I really believe in it. I'm not a slacker. When I go in there, I'm not playing around."
Players Enjoying Extra Media Presence
Penn State has opened multiple practices to the media, a practice rarely allowed under former head coach Joe Paterno. It seems some of the players have enjoyed the extra attention at practice.
“Before it was kind of like the Willy Wonka Factory. Oompa Loomba was in there and nobody really knew what was going on,” tight end Garry Gilliam said of the Lasch Building to the Centre Daily Times.
“Now it’s open. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. You guys see us play. So why not see us practice?”
Is Penn State Wisconsin's Biggest Threat in Leaders Division?
Athlon Sports recently posted a brief discussion about the Big Ten's Leaders Division, asking a select panel which school has the best chance to stand in the way of Wisconsin on a potential return trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.
With Ohio State automatically removed from the conversation, Penn State was one of the teams mentioned by two of the round table members, including one particular Bleacher Report writer.
Blue-White Game Set to Cap off Spring Practice
Penn State's offensive line seems to have been benefiting from the weight training and coaching. Defensive players have lauded some of their counterparts on the offensive line, taking notice of how much stronger the players are getting.
The improvement on the offensive line also helps push the defensive players to get stronger and quicker as well. If the new weight training is having that kind of effect, it should also trickle down to other areas of the team and pay off in some games later in the season.
Justin Brown Takes over as Top Receiver
With Derek Moye moving on, the leading receiver for the Nittany Lions in 2012 will be Justin Brown, a soft-spoken and lanky receiver who has shown glimpses of improvement as a season progresses.
Brown realizes his role on the team now and is working hard to ensure he will be at the top of his game with the new offense coming in.
“I’m working hard, watching a lot of film, and doing everything I can to be a better receiver,” Brown said [via StateCollege.com]. “Derek [Moye] showed me how to do that while he was here and I just want to take that and improve my game."
Blue-White Game Set for Saturday
Last year, Penn State played their annual spring game in very poor weather conditions. This year, Weather.com says the forecast for Saturday's spring game should be much better, but not by much. As of Sunday morning, the weather is predicted with a 40 percent chance of showers and a high of 54 degrees.
Here are the basic details for the game:
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2012
- 11:30 a.m. Gates A & B open
- 11:30 a.m. Penn State national champion Lionettes Dance Team performs
- 11:45 a.m. Penn State Blue Band and cheerleaders perform
- 12:00 p.m. Gates C & E open
- 12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. Stadium autograph session
- 2:00 p.m. Kickoff
You can follow live updates from the game right here on Bleacher Report (stay tuned for a link) and be sure to follow along on Twitter.
Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast, managing editor of Nittany Lions Den and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle.