STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Greetings from central Pennsylvania, where I'll be spending the next few days with coach Bill O'Brien and the Penn State Nittany Lions.
If I listed the number of changes that have occurred since my last visit here in September, I'd be typing for days. It's a historic time at Penn State as the program is under new leadership for the first time since 1966, as O'Brien takes over for the late Joe Paterno. The fallout from the sex abuse scandal, Paterno's dismissal and the response of university and state officials to the situation remain major issues, but spring practice has shifted some of the attention back to the field.
Penn State is spending the spring installing new systems on both sides of the ball, as O'Brien brings in his offense from the New England Patriots and Ted Roof implements a defense based on being "multiply aggressive." The early feedback from players seems to be positive, and Penn State is practicing at an accelerated pace. I'll be checking out practice late this afternoon -- a first for me at Penn State -- and I'll be particularly interested in the quarterbacks, offensive line, tight ends and defensive backs.
The quarterback position will be spotlighted throughout the spring and summer, as O'Brien and assistant Charlie Fisher look to upgrade a spot that has declined since 2009. Unfortunately, quarterbacks and assistant coaches aren't available to the media until after the Blue-White Game, but I'll pass along what I learn.
I'll be visiting with O'Brien and some players today and Tuesday, so check the blog for more on the Nittany Lions.