User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Optimistic O'Brien opens PSU spring

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - If putting a football team together is like a puzzle, Penn State doesn't seem to have all the pieces right now.

Advertisement
Not by its own choosing, of course. Scholarship reductions were imposed by the NCAA as part of sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. By 2014, the Nittany Lions roster can't have more than 65 scholarship players - or roughly 20 fewer than the typical allotment.

The delicate, long-term process of finding quality newcomers to fill depth resumed in earnest Monday, when Bill O'Brien opened his second spring practice as Penn State coach.

Coaches will look at a few players to possibly play both offense and defense along the way. Walk-ons may have a bigger opportunity to play expanded roles - they're already called ``run-ons'' at Penn State because of the way they're expected to hustle on the practice field.

Plus, incoming freshmen could have a better chance to play early, especially at the skill positions.

``You bring these guys in and they're on full scholarship,'' O'Brien said Monday at Beaver Stadium before practice. ``Unless they're injured, then you're going to put them into the mix and let them compete, and you're going to play your best players.''

The competition started in earnest Monday on the turf of cavernous Holuba Hall, after a late-season snowstorm chased practice indoors.

Some competitions are more wide open, like at quarterback, where Steven Bench and junior-college transfer Tyler Ferguson are splitting time getting first-team reps in the derby to replace record-setting starter Matt McGloin.

``Bench and Ferguson only,'' an assistant coach ordered during one drill open to media after a walk-on quarterback stepped forward thinking he was next to take a throw.

O'Brien has said he won't make a quarterback decision until preseason practice in August, though he did say Bench probably knows the offense better. But don't discount freshman and prized recruit Christian Hackenberg entirely. He'll join the team this summer.

``Certainly, he'll be in the mix,'' O'Brien said about Hackenberg. ``At every single position, we'll play the best players.''

While quarterback is relatively stocked, there are depth concerns at linebacker. Penn State lost standouts Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti from last year's team, plus backup Michael Yancich. Glenn Carson is back, and reserve Mike Hull seems primed to ascend to a leading role at Linebacker U. But another returning reserve, Ben Kline, will miss the spring following shoulder surgery.

O'Brien is also optimistic about Nyeem Wartman's potential on the outside. Wartman showed flashes of potential on special teams as a freshman early last season before being sidelined by injury.

Otherwise, walk-ons will have a prime opportunity to audition until the fall, when freshmen Brandon Bell and Zayd Issah join the team.

``It's not because of a lack of talent. But just based on numbers, there are some depth issues,'' O'Brien said. ``We'll be looking for (the freshmen) to come in here in the summertime and see what they can do. Can they help us on defense and most importantly, can they help us on special teams - that will be big.''

The further away one plays from the line of scrimmage, the more likely that player is likely to help sooner, O'Brien said. It may be more difficult for freshmen to break through on the offensive or defensive lines because they might not have the strength to contribute right away.

The coaching staff also plans to look at a few players who might be able to play both ways. For instance, Malik Golden has moved from receiver to defensive back, while Nate Cadogan has gone from offensive line to defensive line. Both players may split reps on both sides of the ball in the spring.

``Certainly there are other moves that may be made because we're going to do what's best for the football team,'' O'Brien said. ``If we think there's a guy who can help us on defense and still play offense because of the numbers that we have, we'll certainly look at doing that as the spring goes along.''

---

NOTES: O'Brien also said that starting safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (shoulder) will join tight end Kyle Carter (wrist) as non-contact holdouts in the spring. They otherwise looked fine in position drills on Monday ... Top tight end recruit Adam Breneman, who is already enrolled, will participate fully in spring drills but will be monitored closely since he's recovering from a right knee injury. Breneman wore a brace on the knee Monday ... Spring practice ends with the Blue-White game on April 20.

---

Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Rogers: Saturday's Late Bowl Tips
ASA: Big Ten Bowl Report - Part 1
Marshall: Tech Trends - Bowls
ASA: Big Ten Bowl Report - Part 2
Marshall: Big 12 Expansion?
News: 2014-15 Bowl Betting Results
NC State tops UCF in St. Petersburg Bowl
Rutgers pounds UNC in Quick Lane Bowl
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NCAAFB Hot Streaks
8-2 L10, 63% +2,245 This Year
6-1 L7 Bowls, +2,181 This Year
12-4 L16 Guarantees, +2,334 TY
35-17 Last 3 Bowl Seasons
6-4 Bowls, 13-5 Guarantees TY
9-2 L11, 14-4 Guarantees TY
3 Straight Bowl Winners
7-3 Last 10 Over/Under Plays
40-25 L65 CFB Selections
9-5 Last 14 Guarantees
31-18, +1,132 Totals TY
8-3 Record L3 Saturdays
7-4 Record Last Saturday
3-0 L3 Bowl Selections
3-1 L4 Picks, 11-5 Totals TY
17-7 Record L6 Saturdays
10-4 L14 Guaranteed Plays
NCAAFB College Football Expert Sports Picks- Holiday Bowl- USC Trojans vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
2014 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Michael Black + 2334
Dave Cokin + 2245
Kevin Rogers + 2181
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Brian Edwards + 303
ASA + 300
Jimmy Boyd + 290
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Dave Cokin 63 %
Kevin Rogers 59 %
Michael Black 59 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 950
Jimmy Boyd + 780
Michael Black + 570
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kyle Hunter + 1208
Stephen Nover + 1132
Jimmy Boyd + 827
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1930
Kevin Rogers + 1185
Mark Franco + 461
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
2014 VI College Bowl Betting Guide