It's no secret that 2010 included a lot of growing pains for Penn State. The Nittany Lions fell short of eight regular season wins for the first time since 2004 thanks in large part to youth and inexperience at many positions on the roster.
With 59 freshmen and sophomores, Penn State will return a lot of players in 2011, which is why coach Joe Paterno hopes his team uses the weeks leading up to the Outback Bowl to grow.
This is an opportunity to take a bunch of kids away and get them away from home where they don't have girlfriends around. It is an opportunity for us to go and to work and work hard particularly with our younger kids to see if we can make them better. We have gotten better. We are not a great football team but we are getting better all the time. We can play with people, but this will be a real good situation for us.
One unit to keep an eye on will certainly be linebacker, where Bani Gbadyu and Chris Colasanti will need to be replaced next season. Michael Mauti is likely already penciled into one linebacker spot, but look for young players including Nathan Stupar and Mike Hull to make a push for more playing time. The group will play a key role in whether Penn State turns things around next year, so it is crucial for the Lions that the linebackers practice well leading up to the Outback Bowl.