Despite no one knowing who the starting quarterback will be, Penn State received a lot of respect from college coaches around the country.
The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 14 in the preseason USA Today coaches poll, coming in one spot ahead of Pitt. The No. 14 ranking is the highest for Penn State by any national source (see related item).
The Lions finished the 2009 season ranked eighth in the coaches poll, while the Panthers were 15th.
Penn State's opponent in week two, Alabama, is No. 1 in the coaches poll after winning the national championship last season. The Lions, therefore, will have a chance to make a big national statement if they can upset the Crimson Tide on Sept. 11.
There's a chance PSU could face two No. 1 teams this season. Ohio State is ranked No. 2, and the Lions will visit Columbus on Nov. 13. If Alabama slips up during its tough SEC schedule and Ohio State can win its first nine games, the Buckeyes likely will be atop the polls when Penn State comes calling.
The Big Ten has four teams ranked in the top 14, with Iowa at 10th and Wisconsin 12th. Then there's Nebraska, which will join the Big Ten next season but will enter the 2010 campaign ranked ninth.
Where the Lions are ranked by various national sources:
While the Big Ten is well represented in the coaches poll, the Big East has only two teams ranked. Pitt leads the way at 15th, while West Virginia is tied for 24th.
The Lions held their first practice of preseason camp Thursday, and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley tweeted about one thing he liked.
"Good start [Thursday]," Bradley tweeted. "You could tell some of our younger players really benefited from a summer training with our strength coach John Thomas."
Bradley also posted that the "good thing about these type of practices is the number of reps we can get everyone. Can slow it down and get quality teaching."
The players can't wear pads for the first five practices of camp because of NCAA rules. So a lot of the time right now will be spent on fundamentals and, as guard Stefen Wisniewski said, to "work through the plays a little bit and get everyone on the same page."