Continued from page 1

NOW: Rough, gruff, tough faces inside helmets.

Don’t expect a lumberjack convention on Saturday _ some players, after all, aren’t even old enough to grow much facial hair _ but the Nittany Lions are permitted these days to show up unshaven. It’s all a part of O'Brien’s outlook and it allows the players to be themselves a little more. And why not? You had to be clean-shaven under Paterno, and early results say the players like the new style. They’re even allowed to wear baseball caps in and around the football building.

___

THEN: “Paternoville.”

NOW: “Nittanyville.”

The plaza outside the student gate at Beaver Stadium is home to a makeshift tent city with fans camping out for a chance to get to prime seats. It’s such an event that the campers even have their own student organization. The Week 1 camp has already begun, but with a new name. “Paternoville” is now “Nittanyville.” Organization vice president Jeff Lowe said the name change had been in the works for a while so as to place the focus squarely on football, and to eliminate any potential awkward moments if, for instance, O'Brien visited a site named after his predecessor. Lowe said the group checked in with Joe Paterno’s son, former quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, to tell him why they were making the switch, and that the younger Paterno backed the decision.

___

THEN: “Meet me at The Statue.”

NOW: “Meet me where The Statue used to be.”

The bronzed statue of Joe Paterno that once stood outside Beaver Stadium is gone. So are the plaques that were placed behind it recounting Penn State wins and losses. After days of speculation so rampant that even Paterno’s widow, Sue, and family members stood in line for one last chance to take a picture, the statue came down July 22 _ the day before the NCAA handed down its penalties. More than a week later, landscapers made it look as if nothing was there in the first place. Grass and trees have been planted at the location where the statue once served as a gathering point for mourners following Paterno’s death in January. It was also a landmark to meet up either before or after a game.

___

THEN: Run to set up the pass.

NOW: Pass to set up the run.

O'Brien knows all about quarterbacks after tutoring one the NFL’s best _ Tom Brady _ while with the high-scoring Patriots. That New England playbook is now the model for Penn State’s new attack. The run-oriented Nittany Lions had one of the worst red-zone offenses in the Big Ten the last two years. Perhaps not coincidentally, Penn State also had a quarterback controversy with Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin. Now Bolden is at LSU. O'Brien tabbed McGloin the starter after the spring game, meaning the senior from Scranton had a full offseason to master the new, complicated scheme. Good thing, too, because he’ll be counted on even more after 1,200-yard tailback Silas Redd transferred to Southern California and receiver Justin Brown bolted to Oklahoma. Either way, prepare to see more footballs in the air than you’re used to at Beaver Stadium.

___

Story Continues →