Monthly Archives: August 2008

Saturday review

A couple of thoughts from yesterday’s 66-10 thumping of Coastal Carolina, and some other Big Ten thoughts.

Catching the replay on the Big Ten Network, I love how cordial and much more friendly Joe Paterno seemed in talking to BTN sideline reporter Kenny Jackson. For those of you scoring at home, Jackson is a former PSU great and among the best receivers to play under Paterno.

Speaking of the BTN, someone should slip a memo to analyst Glen Mason that any quarterback would look comfortable in his first regular season game if his team was up 52-7. Repeatedly yesterday Mason said that Pat Devlin looked comfortable out on the field, and while he may have, when he’s comfortable in the huddle and making plays down 21-14 and in need of a score, that will mean much much more.

About the game itself…

I’m still not sure why Clark and Royster and the starters opened up the second half. That would have been a perfect time to get Devlin more reps and by extension Paul Cianciolo more reps later in the game.

Will the secondary be able to contain the Oregon State duo of Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales? All due respect to Coastal Carolina, this isn’t Chanticleers walking into Beaver Stadium next weekend.

What is the playing time situation between Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin next week? Will there be an “even” amount of reps between the two? Can Penn State afford to go away from Clark if he has a hot hand, they are moving the ball and scoring? Probably not just to get someone else in the game.

About the rest of the Big Ten…

Could the conference have laid a bigger egg than yesterday?? I mean Illinois was nearly heroic in defeat and that was an amazing second half to watch, but as far as a national stage for week one, Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois are three duds today.

I can almost give Illinois a pass because of who the opponent was. Raise your hand if you really expected the Illini to KO Chase Daniels and Missouri…anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Michigan State, a team many feel can be a surprise in the Big Ten this season looked awful and had to play catch up and failed all night long against California.

And Michigan? Wow. That looks like a 4-5 win team. I’ve been of the idea that they would be a team no one wants to play in say November or even late October, but that was an awful, awful fourth down call trailing Utah by two with time winding down yesterday.

When the “best” victory is Ohio State over Youngstown, that pretty much sizes up the weekend doesn’t it?

Speaking of the Buckeyes, hopefully Beanie Wells isn’t out for a significant length of time (IE: he plays against USC after being held out of next week’s game against Ohio U.) That guy is a special talent.

By the way, how did this happen? Maybe it’s a good thing Arkansas St. was taken off the PSU schedule in favor of Oregon State afterall?

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Postgame update

Joe Paterno confirmed that Daryll Clark will indeed start next week’s game against visiting Oregon State.

Penn State allowed just 1.6 yards per rush in the 66-10 victory.

Clark and Pat Devlin finished a combined 16-of-22 for 229 yards and a touchdown.

Stephf Green ended up the leading rusher with 89 yards and two touchdowns, while Brent Carter added 73 yards on the ground.

Game ball? Has to be to Clark on offense for being nearly flawless in his first start. He made critical throws, especially the one on 3rd-and-13 to Jordan Norwood and on defense, Aaron Maybin who almost didn’t play due to grades. Maybin finished with two sacks.

END OF THREE

Chaz Powell just exploded down the Coastal sideline for a 55-yard run. Funny that Joe Paterno said that Chaz is the closest thing to Derrick Williams and that is why they moved him over to offense. Just small point of order here….when’s the last time Williams broke a play from scrimmage like that?

This game has been in the bag for the last 90 minutes and it’s nothing against Coastal Carolina, they just aren’t prepared for this game as they would be say North Carolina A&T. They are playing hard, William Richardson is trying, so is Zach MacDowell, but it’s just not working.

They’re a very good FCS team and will compete for the Big South for sure.

Elsewhere, Beanie Wells was carted off the field with a serious foot injury in Ohio State’s game against Youngstown.

Some numbers through three. PSU is 7-of-9 on third down. Coastal has 25 rushes for just 43 yards…Clark adn Devlin finished a combined 16-0f-22 for 228 yards….Royster is done with 8 carries for 64 yards and three touchdowns. Stephf Green is the leading rusher with 89 yards and two scores…..PSU has 16 rushing first downs….

I’m headed downstairs in a few, so more thoughts after the postgame.

HALFTIME

If there is a soft spot right now, it has to be the secondary. Zach MacDowell is finding some room to place the ball. And a few times they have had trouble wrapping up. One bright spot for the coverage scheme, Bani Gbadyu interception in the 2nd.

The first half comes and goes with little drama…Pat Devlin enters around the eight minute mark and immediately throws a strike with flawless touch to Jordan Norwood. Stephfon Green enters at the nine minute mark, blows off tackle and cruises for 20 yards, lowering the shoulder at the end of the run. The next play Norwood hauls in a seven yard touchdown pass.

Speaking of Norwood, probably the worst call of the game, at the 10:02 mark of the second, Clark runs option left and pitches to Norwood who is coming right, Norwood is promptly hammered for an 11-yard loss. On the next play he makes a ridiculous catch over the middle. FYI, his father, former PSU defensive backs coach Brian, is in attendance. Remember Brian Norwood is now the defensive coordinator of Baylor.

Some PSU numbers…Daryll Clark finished the half 9-of-10 for 121 yards and a touchdown. Evan Royster rushed four times for 35 yards and two scores, Derrick Williams had 129 total yards, 89 coming on the kick return…Green finished averaging 11.3 yards per rush…the quarterbacks combined finished 13-of-16 for 190 yards. Devlin did miss a wide open Mickey Shuler for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

END OF FIRST QUARTER

Penn State is up 14-0 at the end of one, and it’s pretty much been what was expected. Coastal cannot move the ball on the Nittany Lions defense, outside of a play or two by running back Eric O’Neal.

The offense has done a nice job of sharing the wealth, as Derrick Williams, Brett Brackett, Deon Butler, Evan Royster have all touched the ball.

Tight end Andrew Quarless made his first apperance at the 2:18 mark of the quarter and  Graham Zug has seen the field as well. Nothing from Stephfon Green yet….kinda surprising there.

Dave Bennett put in Zach MacDowall on Coastal’s fourth drive. William Richardson got the start, was ineffective, but not because of his own play. Coastal has no one that can block any of the ends, especially Aaron Maybin, who tore through right tackle Britt Leggett and smacked Richardson.

Lions have scored on two Evan Royster runs, one coming out of the three-wide receiver shotgun set. Nice call.

PREGAME

It’s a late update thanks to traffic and also the increased security measures at the press gate.  We’re underway from Beaver Stadium, nothing much to report, if you aren’t here yet, there’s a good reason why.

Anyways, Lydell Sargeant has started at corner opposite Tony Davis.

Updates are coming as they are needed, but check back at the end of the first.

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Friday night update

Live at the Lancaster Catholic-Trinity game in Lancaster, Trinity’s up 14-0, but the note of interest, Christian Kuntz, the wide receiver verbal to the Nittany Lions scored on a 35-yard sweep around the right end on the very last play of the first half.

Trinity has a 14-0 lead.

Kuntz had a rough first quarter, to the point a Shamrocks assistant seated behind me expressed his…um..frustration at some of Kuntz’s dance moves to avoid would be tacklers. Kuntz finished with four carries for 27 yards in the half….he had three for minus eight yards in the first couple of minutes.

Kuntz doesn’t have a reception yet in the first half, the game itself is very sloppy, but nice play call by Jeff Boger and the ‘Rocks staff….Catholic had no clue the sweep was coming from 35 yards out on the final play.

You can catch a running blog of the game, if you desire, at the new Lancaster Sports website LancSports.com. Keith Schweigert of the Lancaster New Era, who designed the site, is seated next to me and is updating regularly there.

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Richardson will start for CCU

In what comes as little surprise, at least to me, William Richardson was named the Coastal Carolina starter for tomorrow’s season opener against Penn State.

Richardson told me last week in my interview with him that both he and Zach MacDowall received the same amount of reps in practice the last two weeks.

Richardson of course is the younger brother of former Penn State quarterback Wally Richardson who will be in the stands tomorrow watching his little brother play.

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Looking at tomorrow, ahead

I’ll get to Coastal Carolina in a minute, first some thoughts on watching Oregon State last night. Not impressed. I thought they played pretty well in the first half against Stanford, but too many mistakes and weren’t poised enough in the final 30 minutes despite a late last ditch effort in falling to the Cardinal.

So what does that mean for next week when the Beavers come calling to…um…Beaver Stadium? Nothing. Penn State should be favored by double digits in that game, but it’s going to be closer than anyone imagines. There is a tendency to sometimes play down to an opponent, I wouldn’t be stunned to see that next week. But I was not overly impressed in watching Oregon State.

I won’t buy the argument that “if they did this” or “if they did that” either because football isn’t about “if” it’s about doing.

Tonight I am pulling some high school football duty, covering Trinity and Lancaster Catholic. It will be a chance to see PSU recruit Christian Kuntz on the football field. I cover high school basketball, so I’ve seen him plenty of times on the hardwood, it will be interesting to see how he handles this season on the gridiron.

Now, about tomorrow….

First, the Chanticleers booted a player from the team Thursday after being caught for DUI. It’s the third time in nine months Scott Fambrough has been tossed in the clink.

Now, what do I see tomorrow? Not much to be honest. The weather report for tomorrow says low 80’s and no rain. So that’s good news. But I don’t think we’re going to see any form of a full offensive gameplan by Penn State tomorrow.

We’ll see Evan Royster and Stephfon Green on the field at the same time. We’ll see Daryll Clark run the QB draw and some option and I expect to see seven or eight different guys with a catch, including a handfull  between Royster and Green….but let’s not kid ourselves here, this game is important from the standpoint that it will be Clark’s first start and his first legit full live game action. In the past he’s had spot duty (Alamo Bowl), and depsite the 37-point line and who the opponent is, Clark does need to show some poise, control and the ability to consistently lead the offense.

There has to be a time where everyone in that huddle gives Clark the respect he commands, and it won’t matter who is on the other sideline, this is the perfect opportunity to cement some things.

Give him a full quarter, get a 21-0 lead and give way to Pat Devlin and eventually Paul Cianciolo.

On the defensive side of the ball….it’s the same thing. Get some experience and keep everyone healthy.

Prediction: Penn State 45-10

COASTAL CAROLINA at No. 22 PENN STATE

When: Saturday, noon

Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA

Television:
The Big Ten Network (channel 54) will carry the game with Mark Neely, Glen Mason and Kenny Jackson calling the action.

Radio: The Penn State Sports Network will carry the game with Steve Jones and Jack Ham calling the action beginning with the pregame at 10:30 a.m. The PSSN can be heard locally on WHP 580 AM. A web stream is available at www.gopsusports.com. The game will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio on channel 231.

Line: Penn State is favored by 37

Coaches:
CCU — Dave Bennett, 6th year (39-17, 102-34 overall); PSU — Joe Paterno, 43rd year, (372-125-3 overall).

The Series: This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Injuries: CCU — OUT: Myron Rodgers (knee), Dominique Whiteside (foot), Marlon Campbell (knee), Andre Ford (knee), Tommy Fraser (knee); DOUTBFUL: Jamie Childers (meningitis), Leon Goodwin (shoulder) and D.J. McNeill (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: Tyler Campbell (ankle). PSU — OUT: Sean Lee (knee), Devon Still (ankle), Nick Sukay (foot).

Notes: CCU is 2-1 in road openers…in its breif 56 game history Coastal Carolina has never been shutout…of 43 scoring drives a season ago, 29 of them went 60-plus yards, 23 were of seven plays or more…school Athletic Director is former PSU captain Warren “Moose” Koegel…PSU is playing in August for just the eighth time in team history and is 5-2 in August games…the Nittany Lions have won 52 of 63 non-conference games since joining the Big Ten in 1993…CCU is the 81st different opponent Paterno will face as a head coach…with a victory Saturday, Paterno can tie Florida State’s Bobby Bowden for the most wins by a Division I-A head coach with 373. Florida State is off this weekend…PSU is 100-19-2 in season openers and have won 15 of the last 17, and are 35-7 in season openers under Paterno.

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Hotline recap

Surprise surprise…nothing new out of NLH tonight.

I have to admit, I do like the player segment, tonight Mark Rubin opened the show. He had some interesting things to say about his tenure at PSU, moving to safety, being Zack Mills’ favorite target (speaking of which, where is Mills these days??) as a wide receiver, and beating Michael Phelps when he was a kid.

Joe admitted he thinks PSU’s special teams, specifically the kick coverage stinks, and the coaches are working on watching tape and making things better. Here’s an idea…hire a special teams coach.

The rest of the show was standard fair tonight, calls asking who the starters are on the defensive line, one caller said Joe should stay as long as he wants to and forget what we write or broadcast.

Throw in a few zainy one liners about Director of Football Branding Guido D’Elia and you have your hour. I would like to see Guido do a cannonball….any other takers?

Don’t forget Oregon State is on at 9 p.m. on the duce tonight.

Also those wishing to read the previews for the season, go here. It was kinda buried on the paper’s website, no idea why. I’m sure you will find every piece utterly enlightening.

Back tomorrow with some thoughts on the Beavers, and predictions.

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Some sad news

It’s an off day for me, that means a round of golf,  and a little Nittany Lion Hotline later, but there is some personal news on my end I figured I’d share because some of you know will know who I am talking about. This blog isn’t dedicated to personal chatter from me, it’s designed to give you the PSU fan whatever I can provide in news, but allow me, if you will, to take a moment and make this known.

A former colleague of mine, George Zurick passed away last week. It came to my attention this morning reading sometihng in the Patriot-News.

George was a photographer for Gorden Blain’s SportsFever Magazine and that is probably what people best know him for.

But back when I first got started in the journalism field, I was a young, immature punk breaking into the radio world with Jed Donahue many of you may remember, I met George and I can tell you no one busted his ass more behind the scenes to help out and get things done.

George would collect every single piece of high school sports information and put it all together in a nice, neat pack for Jed, Gorden, Gary Sutton, Mark Shuey and later Steve Bohen, anyone who worked on the PIAA telecasts. He was as thourough as it got on stats during games. The man never seemed to stop working.

Sadly the last time I saw him was last fall at Bishop McDevitt’s game against Hempfield, the same day PSU hosted Notre Dame. He would always call asking for our preview edition, or stats, or would drop an e-mail to see how things were going and if we had info on a certain team or player.

In talking to Gorden this morning, he and George attended Steel-High’s scrimmage against Donegal and he was in good spirits and felt very good according to Gorden. I’m just glad that he got to do what he loved doing one last time. Gorden posted something on his site, which you can read here.

George passed away at his home last week after falling ill, it was sudden. It’s a very sad time for those who knew him best and I can honestly say he was as genuine as it got and I am honored to have called him a colleague, but more importantly a friend.

Rest easy, friend.

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