PSU Training Days: What we learned

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
9:00
PM ET
Tonight's "ESPN All Access: Penn State Training Days" went over well with fans and PSU commits, so we decided to compile a list of highlights from the hour-long program.

If you didn't catch the show, you can watch it at 10 tonight on ESPNU. And a five-part series consisting of 30-minute specials will begin 6 p.m. Wednesday on ESPNU.

1. Last year's "crisis mode" and looking ahead. Bill O'Brien didn't dance around the subject of the sanctions and what his team went through last season. "We were in a little bit of crisis mode," he said. Mike Hull admitted he nearly transferred to Pitt, and tight end Jesse James second-guessed his commitment "for about a day." James was driving away from State College when he get off at the exit and turned the car around. Of course, PSU remained remarkably intact and marched on to finish with a successful season -- but the head coach wants more. Added O'Brien: "Last year, at the end of the year, people really praised us for our season. 8-4's a good record, but it's not a great record. ... What can we do to take it to the next level?"

2. O'Brien eats almost no solid foods. Yeah, you read that right. "I'm cleansing my body," he said. He'll eat five solid meals a week with the likes of chicken, brown rice and vegetables. But he'll indulge with shakes the rest of the time. Apparently, the coach has lost six pounds so far.

3. Kyle Carter is standing out. ESPN's narrator, Gene Wojciechowski, called Carter the quarterbacks' favorite security blanket, and that's good news for a tight end overcoming a wrist injury. A lot has been said about James' potential, but Carter was on the Mackey Award watch list last season and is on the watch list this preseason. He was the top receiving target opposite Allen Robinson in 2012, and Wojciechowski remarked how Carter always seems to catch every ball thrown his way in camp.

4. OG John Urschel has a favorite theorem. It's the Riemann rearrangement theorem. For those who aren't currently working on their second master's, Urschel explained the theorem states if you have a finite sum of alternating terms -- and, if you rearrange that order -- you'll end up with a different answer. "I like to be viewed as someone who doesn't necessarily fit in a certain grouping," Urschel said.

5. Quote of the night comes from ... the equipment manager. Brad "Spider" Caldwell might have had the best quote during the hour-long show: "I think on my gravestone I'd love it to say, 'We Are.' "

6. Defining toughness. O'Brien pulled aside the team after one practice break and explained just how he describes the term: "The mark of a tough football team are these things: It's your ability, defense, to stop the run when you have to. ... It's our ability on offense to run the football -- at Penn State -- to run the football when we have to. That's where the toughness is defined."

7. Playing games. So, at one point during mealtime, Urschel and offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach decide to play the "Salt Game." One person asks another a question. Get the question wrong, and you'll have to stick your tongue out -- while the other shakes some salt into your tongue. The linemen called over sophomore Jesse James and asked him what Dieffenbach weighed at birth.

"Seven pounds, six ounces?" Salted. Try again. "13 pounds?" Between laughs, he was salted again. The team also ditched the tradition of doing pushups if someone walks onto the oversized "S" on the locker room carpet ... but didn't tell the ESPN crew that. So, when an ESPN employee walked on that S, he was punked -- and forced to do pushups.

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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