The meeting breaks into groups, the groups into strategy sessions. They sift through offenses and defenses, filing and discarding, still one more shakedown in search of the best combinations. Favorites are logged: "25 Squeeze, 89 Switch, 86 Squirrel," and "Pass 37-Z-Post, Scatter 87, 71 Prevent Screen Short."
Stratagems for Ohio State actually began to take shape last spring. "By this summer we already had our game plan," says Paterno. Against Rutgers and Temple, Paterno held back almost two-thirds of his passing attack. He was not able to shield as much of the running game because it had been so spotty.
Injuries, ever lurking, make a late but significant incursion into the game plan. Dorney, the All-America tackle, has a hip pointer and may not play. Irv Pankey, a tackle previously moved to tight end, is moved back to tackle, with John Scovill replacing him at tight end. Scovill thus becomes that rarest of animals: a walk-on preparing to start in a major-college game. "Last spring he was minding his own business, kicking and trying to play some split end, and now he may start against Ohio State," says Paterno. "It's interesting." Scovill, at 200 pounds, is small for a tight end.
Speculation surfaces once more as to the likelihood that Woody Hayes will start freshman Quarterback Art Schlichter (shlee-ster) in place of senior Rod Gerald. It had become a rumor when word got around that Hayes had locked the gates at the beginning of fall practice. The Penn State staff knows Schlichter well. He was highly sought as a record-setting 6-3, 190-pound highschooler in Bloomingburg, Ohio. He almost signed with Penn State.
"The report is that Schlichter and Gerald will be in the same backfield," says a Penn State assistant.
"That can only mean a double-quarterback sneak," says another, drawing a laugh.
"I don't think Woody is interested in becoming ringmaster for an aerial circus at this stage of his career."
Paterno says that, indeed, it did not seem consistent with Hayes, but that Schlichter was an exceptional prospect, and if Woody ever had it in mind to go with the youngster he might best do it now and get a whole season out of him. "Tell you the truth, I'd rather he did," Paterno says. "Gerald might not throw well upfield, but he has the quickest feet I've ever seen. If he's going to play, I'd rather see him at flanker. I don't think he can hurt us as much there. And the other guy, as good as he is, is still a freshman."
Sandusky is convinced that Ohio State cannot consistently block the Penn State tackles, Millen and Clark, and that the Buckeye running game, weaker at fullback and tackle than in the past, will not go. But doubts plague him as a result of watching practice films.