Tom Bradley's face was a bright shade of red -- veins bulging out of his neck and sweat pouring down his forehead.
The defensive coordinator's headset mouthpiece was turned upward, so he could cup his hands around his mouth and yell plays to his 11-man unit.
Two feet from Bradley was the player he's usually directing.
Sean Lee pogoed up and down next to his defensive mentor on the sideline, but in place of his blue 45 jersey, Lee wore a white coach's-issued polo shirt. Bradley-inspired blue windpants had taken the place of grass-stained football tights. His helmet, usually scarred and slung low, had been replaced with a headset for communicating with other coaches.
Penn State linebackers looked toward the sideline, toward Bradley and their teammate turned coach. Lee held up fingers, made jabbing motions and rotated his arms around one another.
Since his season-ending knee injury in April, Lee has focused on rehabbing his torn right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He's also taken up a new weekend day job -- coaching.
"That's great isn't it?" Bradley said after Saturday's game. "He helps us coach. He does some things for us on the sidelines. He's very much into the game. He does a great job coaching on it."
All summer, Lee has been most vocal with former walk-on Josh Hull -- the player that has taken Lee's place in the middle of the defense. While he didn't start last year, Hull played in every game for Penn State and recorded 18 tackles.
Last weekend was Hull's first start.
Hull said yesterday on a conference call that he watched film with Lee in the offseason.
"[We've] worked real close hand and hand over the past months," Hull said. "He'll point out little things that I missed if I make the wrong read."
Then Hull noted Coastal Carolina's only touchdown -- a 33-yard pass over the middle in his territory. Hull, who got pointers from Lee after the play, called the mistake "unacceptable."
Afterward, Hull said Lee helped him work on different coverage reads.
Lee was just as animated as Bradley after some plays during the game, and senior captain A.Q. Shipley said Lee can be even more intense on the sidelines.
Lee's status as a full-time player/part-time coach makes his relationship with his teammates unique. Working one-on-one with Sean Lee is different than working with Bradley, linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden or Joe Paterno, Shipley said after Saturday's game.
"During the game coaches come over and they're yelling, 'What's going on here?'" Shipley said. "Sean's been there before. Sean's been in the thick of things. The fact that he's been through it all, he's seen different things. He can relate to the players a lot better."
Craig Lee, Sean's dad, said yesterday in a telephone interview that coaching has allowed his son to focus on the positives. Instead of dwelling on his injury, Craig said his son has devoted his energy to spreading his linebacking knowledge.
"He was pretty excited about coaching," Craig said. "He felt that he could help the younger linebackers, especially some of the guys in their first starts. He's really pleased at the whole way of doing things. I was happy for him in a way because it took his focus off his inability to play."
Lee's recovery from May knee surgery has progressed well, Crag said. His son is still wearing a brace, but he has been able to run on a treadmill and has been able to keep up with teammates in practice as a mentor. Earlier this summer, Lee was just getting his feet wet. With no in-game coaching experience on his rÃ©sumÃ©, Lee worked with his teammates one-on-one in linebacking drills and in 7-on-7 drills behind the Lasch Building.
Coaching has also given Lee a new perspective on the game, Craig said.
"Sean has already said to me that he thinks he'll be a much better player next year in recognizing plays and formations that the other team does and how to respond to those situations," Craig said. "He's gone on and on, telling me, 'I think I'm going to be such a better player next year because of the experience coaching.'"
Toward the end of the fourth quarter against Coastal Carolina, it wasn't evident that the game was a blowout.
Not by watching Lee.
During a break in action the defense huddled close to the sideline. The Chanticleers had called a timeout to kick what would be a meaningless field goal.
Bradley went over the unit's next play and then Lee took over. He stood in the middle, right in front of underclassmen linebackers Michael Mauti, Nathan Stupar and Chris Colasanti. Lee's face got red and the veins in his neck swelled like Bradley's.
Penn State had the game wrapped up much earlier. Maybe Lee could have relaxed.
Not this time. There were still three seconds left. The defense still had a job to do.
"I think he might have been a little more intense," Hull said. "You could tell he was more nervous than the kids playing. I think he just wanted to be on the field so badly."