November 12, 2011; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions marching band walks on to the field prior to the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Spring Practice-What We Think We Know

We are two weeks into spring practice at Penn State, and still a little less than three weeks away from the Blue-White game.  News is a little easier to come by with Bill O’Brien at the top of the program, but until we get a glimpse of things on April 20th, it’s still just an educated guess.  With that in mind, here is what we think we know at (roughly) the halfway mark of spring practice

  • Neither QB has separated himself from what has been reported.  During the sessions of practice that have been open to the media, both Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson have been splitting reps, and showing their youth.  There have been sporadic rumblings that Bench may have a leg up, and while that could very well be the case, there has been no public proof.  O’Brien has said he isn’t going to name a starter out of spring, and with Christian Hackenberg’s arrival getting closer by the day, don’t expect that to change.
  • Deion Barnes is not going anywhere, and he has vowed to be better.  Neither of those are good things for opposing Big 10 defenses.  Barnes, who was the Big 10’s Freshman of the Year in 2012, knows of at least 4 or 5 missed sacks last year, and doesn’t want to be thinking the same thing in the next off season.  Adam Gress, who gets to line up opposite Barnes in drills called him one of the best defensive end he’s ever played against, adding that he is bigger, stronger and faster than last season. With PSU looking to replace Jordan Hill, a dominant end like Barnes will definitely help ease the learning curve.
  • The defensive tackle position should be in pretty good shape, if you trust what their fellow tackle is saying.  Johnson, Dowrey, and Gaia are all competing to line up next to DaQuan Jones on August 31st against Syracuse, and Jones likes what he sees. Losing Hill is going to be felt in many ways, but getting one of the young guys to step up will be crucial for PSU’s defense in 2013. Having Coach Johnson on the case won’t hurt either.
  • This is only partially gleaned from practice, but linebacker depth is going to be a huge question mark.  Behind the first team in spring (Mike Hull, Glenn Carson, Nyeem Wartman), there is a huge unknown.  Ben Kline showed flashes of his ability last season, but is sitting out this spring.  Incoming recruit Zayd Issah was expected to contribute as a freshman, but his arrest has put his future at PSU in question.  Penn State needs to stay healthy in a lot of areas, but perhaps no area is it more critical than linebacker.

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