Thursday is exam day for the Penn State offensive line.
Miles Dieffenbach has started every game at left guard since moving over from center during the offseason.
Each week, Nittany Lions offensive line coach Mac McWhorter gives his players a "packet," said left guard Miles Dieffenbach, including the depth chart of that week's opponent, what formations and blitzes they like to run, as well as what plays Penn State's offensive is likely to use against that opponent.
"The more you take it, the more you know our plays and what the defense is running," Dieffenbach said Wednesday.
Penn State's offensive linemen have been tested in a number of ways during the last few months. Some, like Dieffenbach, have adjusted to new positions (the redshirt sophomore was a center his first two seasons). Others, like Donovan Smith, have had to battle nagging injuries. (Smith was back at practice this week, Dieffenbach said, after missing the last two games with an ankle injury).
Dieffenbach, who has started every game, admits that it's been tough to come out of the games but understands why the moves are being made.
"It's good to catch breaks at some points during the game," Dieffenbach said. "It adds depth to our offensive line. You never know what's going to happen with injuries. I think it's good when you roll guys in to get depth on the line."
This Thursday, McWhorter's exam will include information on Illinois' defensive front, led by defensive end Michael Buchanan and tackle Akeem Spence. The Fighting Illini have registered only six sacks in four games this season but Dieffenbach said he's expecting them to be the best front Penn State has seen so far.
"They're aggressive, strong, quick. Everything you want in a defensive line," Dieffenbach said. "We've got to play aggressive but we've got to play smart."