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Spring a learning experience for Nittany Lions

The Sports Xchange

Class was definitely in session this spring for the Penn State football team. The Nittany Lions were adjusting to a new coaching staff, new workout routines and a new playbook after Bill O'Brien took over the program in January and joined the team shortly after helping the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl.

It was also a spring of learning for O'Brien and his new coaching staff, who had to figure out who their best players were and how to best utilize them this fall.

"I think we've got a big team, a physical team," O'Brien said at the end of spring practice. "At certain spots we've got decent speed. We'll continue to evaluate that during training camp."

O'Brien, who will call the offensive plays this fall, implemented as much of his playbook as he could this spring. As his players competed with each other for reps and potential starting spots, the coaches watched to see how those players adjusted to the new schemes and also looked for ways to scheme to take advantage of their players' talents.

"As a coach, one of the goals going into spring ball was finding out who we are," defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "What can we do as coaches, what can we do well. I think good coaches figure out what their players can do and then adjust the job description."

Penn State's veterans said they enjoyed having to prove themselves to a new coaching staff this spring, the first spent in State College without Joe Paterno on the practice field since 1965. As with every year, there are question marks -- at quarterback, offensive line and in the secondary -- but there is also a lot of returning talent and a sense of excitement and optimism for a team that spent last fall dealing with the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

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