Three questions for Penn State

August, 27, 2008
8/27/08
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

I didn't get a chance to make it to Happy Valley during the preseason, but now that the quarterback situation is settled, it's time to take a look at Penn State. Here are three questions facing the Nittany Lions this fall.

1. Did Penn State make the right call with Daryll Clark at quarterback?

Clark has the right mix of size, speed, arm strength and intangibles to effectively run the Nittany Lions new offense, the Spread HD. Those expecting a reincarnation of Michael Robinson might be disappointed, but Clark should be able to manage an offense stacked with weapons at wide receiver and running back. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said sophomore Pat Devlin also likely will play this fall, which isn't a bad idea, but Clark will get the first opportunity. The 6-2 senior doesn't lack confidence and projects as a strong vocal leader, which should help him transition to the top spot and earn his teammates' respect.

2. How will the recent off-field incidents and the speculation about Paterno's future affect the team?

If things go bad early on, some of those distractions could creep in for Penn State, but the team has good senior leadership in players like A.Q. Shipley, Josh Gaines and Derrick Williams. The Nittany Lions can't afford any more disciplinary incidents after a well-publicized offseason in the blotter, and it will be up to the captains to maintain order. The Paterno questions could crop up more toward the end of the season, especially if the team is struggling. Players maintain they don't worry about the 81-year-old coach, but constantly getting asked to speculate about his future could take a toll.

3. Who will step up on defense after the season-ending injury to star linebacker Sean Lee?

Penn State still should have one of the Big Ten's best defenses despite the loss of Lee. Junior defensive end Maurice Evans is on the cusp of a monster season after collecting 21.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks last fall. Safety Anthony Scirrotto will be fully focused after dealing with his own off-field problems last season and should lead Penn State in interceptions for the third consecutive year. If the Lions get good leadership from Tyrell Sales and production from former walk-on Josh Hull and promising sophomores Chris Colasanti and Bani Gbadyu, the linebacker corps won't be an issue.

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