Penn State notebook: Gress tackles several spots on line
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On a team that's had safeties move to linebacker, cornerbacks switch to safety (and back), wide receivers become tight ends and tight ends transition to tackle, having an offensive tackle bounce between the left and right side might seem trivial.
Not so, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said.
“It's difficult,” O'Brien said. “Some guys have trouble just getting in (the opposite) handed stance.”
West Mifflin's Adam Gress is not one of those guys.
Gress, a fifth-year senior, has started games at both tackles this season. His first outing at left tackle came in last week's 24-17 overtime win against Illinois.
Gress is listed as a co-starter on both sides on the official depth chart in advance of the Lions' game at Minnesota on Saturday.
“I practiced enough on both sides that it feels comfortable,” Gress said. “It feels completely natural.”
Gress and Garry Gilliam had shared right tackle through the season's first seven games with redshirt sophomore Donovan Smith at left tackle.
But a poor performance by the line in a 63-14 loss Oct. 26 at Ohio State caused a slight shakeup.
O'Brien said the line play was better against the Illini. All three tackles played significant snaps, with the 320-pound Gress earning the greatest praise from O'Brien.
“He's a very large human being, a bright guy, a physical player and hard to rush around,” O'Brien said. “So we like to try to use him on both sides. He's definitely a swing tackle, and so is Garry. Garry can play right to left, too, and Donovan is primarily a left tackle.
“So we have a good luxury there. And Gress is a guy that can do both and has done it pretty well.”
Redshirt freshman running back Akeel Lynch did not have a carry Saturday against Illinois. O'Brien finally let it be known why.
“In the Ohio State game, he sprained his MCL, and he's day-to-day with that,” O'Brien said. “And that's why he didn't play in the Illinois game. I'm not sure if I mentioned that last week. I apologize for that.”
Lynch has 305 rushing yards on 46 carries for a team-best 6.6 average this season.
‘Comfortable' at corner
O'Brien said Adrian Amos played his best game of the season against Illinois, his second game fully back at cornerback after spending most of the first six games at safety.
“Of course, it's going to be more natural for me to go back and play corner,” said Amos, who started all 12 games at cornerback in 2012. “I'm comfortable playing corner, and back-guy corner.”
Incidentally, Amos, a Baltimore native, is a Ravens fan. But that wasn't the only team whose fans he regularly encountered while growing up.
“There are some Pittsburgh fans in Baltimore,” he said. “I don't understand it.”
After having 36 carries against Illinois, Bill Belton is on a limited-contact practice schedule this week. … Minnesota coach Jerry Kill will stay in the coaches' box for the game Saturday. Kill is on leave to treat his epilepsy. … Gophers quarterback Phillip Nelson is coming off a 298-yard, four-touchdown passing performance and is expected to play against Penn State despite a hip injury. … O'Brien: “We don't allow any hazing at Penn State. I'd say if anybody gets hazed, it's the coaches. The players bust our chops.”
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
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