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Spring Football Primer: Five Burning Questions

Spring football practice for Penn State will begin today, as the Nittany Lions practice for the first of fifteen times under Bill O’Brien’s watch leading up the annual Blue-White game on April 21st at Memorial Field, home of the State College High School Little Lions Beaver Stadium.

Between now and April 21st, there are some questions that will hopefully be made a little clearer. We already broke down the quarterbacks extensively, so this will focus on other elements of the team, and the term “quarterback” will only be used in the context of discussing other positions from this point forward.

  1. How will some offseason position changes hold up? Former four-star linebacker recruit Dakota Royer was recently moved to tight end, and Bill Belton was moved from wide receiver to running back. Position changes are not uncommon, but some work out better than others. These two players in particular will be interesting to monitor.
  2. How healthy is this team? Defensive end Pete Massaro and tight end Gary Gilliam will be back on the field after recovering from  ACL tears. Michael Mauti, likely the most important of the three, is also recovering from a torn ACL suffered against Eastern Michigan last season, and will not take part in spring drills. Between Sean Lee in the spring of 2008, Curtis Drake the past two years and Massaro last year, the Nittany Lions have had some bad luck with spring injuries. In addition to monitoring the progress of Massaro and Gilliam, it will be key to get through spring practice without any major injuries.
  3. Who will block for the chosen quarterback? Regardless of who the starter is, every quarterback needs an offensive line. Penn State loses four of its five offensive linemen from last year. New offensive line coach Mac McWhorter arrives with some pretty impressive credentials, having coached at Texas for the better part of the last decade. His focus will be on finding four other guys to go along with returning center Matt Stankiewitch.
  4. Who will step up in the secondary? If any unit was blown up more than the offensive line, it would be the secondary. Nick Sukay, Drew Astorino, D’Anton Lynn, and Chaz Powell all had significant playing time last year, but all of them graduated. Adrian Amos — who impressed as a freshman — figures to lock down one of the cornerback spots while Malcolm Willis should start at safety. The rest is up for grabs.
  5. How many times will BOB do work? It has already happened a five times, and while some were more hyped than others, O’Brien and staff have had a very good start to 2013 recruiting. Several recruits are scheduled to visit campus this weekend, and more commitments before the Blue-White game is not out of the question. One in particular to keep an eye on is Ryan Switzer. A three star 5-10 170 lb. receiver from West Virginia, Switzer is thought to be a Penn State lean. If you want to get creative, think of him as playing the role of Wes Welker in O’Brien’s offense.

O’Brien will hold a press conference at 1:30 today before spring practice gets underway a few hours later. Onward State will provide any news and updates along the way.

Hopefully some of these questions are answered.

About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

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