Penn State wideouts play no-respect card
September, 23, 2009
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Penn State wide receivers Derek Moye and Chaz Powell were relaxing in their room Tuesday night when the subject came up again.
The feeling of disrespect tends to fester, and despite three victories this season, both Moye and Powell still sense it.
"Last year, the year before, we were just sitting on the sideline watching these games," Moye said. "Now we're going to be in the spotlight. All eyes are going to be on us and we're happy to be in this position. We're going to go out and show everybody what we can do."
|AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster|
|Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye intends to prove the doubters wrong.|
Penn State had turnover at several positions following its Rose Bowl run in 2008, and no spot lost more production than wide receiver. Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood all started for most of their careers and combined for 132 receptions, 1,932 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last year.
Throw in Williams' production as a rusher and a return man, and it was obvious that Penn State had a major void to fill. Receivers like Moye, Powell, Graham Zug and Brett Brackett had appeared in plenty of games, but their numbers paled in comparison to the big three.
So how have the Rodney Dangerfields of Happy Valley fared so far? Pretty well. Penn State has been forced to throw the ball a lot in its first three games, and Moye, Powell and Zug all have reached double-digits in receptions. They have combined for 37 catches, 474 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
But doubts still linger. Penn State hasn't played anyone so far, and the wideouts are still unproven on the big stage, which arrives Saturday night against Iowa (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).
"There's always people who say the competition wasn't there," Moye said. "But this week and in weeks to come, we'll prove what we did the first few weeks wasn't a fluke."
The outside questions brought Penn State's wideouts even closer together during the offseason. Moye and his teammates often talked about their perception and looked forward to changing it when the games began.
"We're just going out there to prove every day that we're here for a reason," Moye said. "We weren't just some guys that were picked up off the street or anything like that. We deserve to be recognized as good receivers that play for Penn State."
Veteran quarterback Daryll Clark has eased the wideouts' transition to featured roles. Clark ranked second in the Big Ten in pass efficiency last year (143.4) and continued to make strides this fall, completing 67 percent of his throws for 760 yards and eight touchdowns.
The receivers also have tried to help their quarterback by providing bigger targets. While Butler, Williams and Norwood all were 6-feet or shorter, Moye stands 6-5, while Zug is 6-2 and Powell 6-1.
"Daryll, that’s one thing we told him, he always likes to make the perfect pass, but if we have 1-on-1 coverage, just put the ball up and we’ll make a play for you," Moye said. "Let us use our height to our advantage.”
Penn State's receiving corps will be tested by Iowa, which boasts a talented secondary. Junior Amari Spievey is regarded as the Big Ten's top cornerback, while safety Tyler Sash leads the Big Ten in interceptions (4) after sharing the league lead last year with teammate Pat Angerer.
"It's great when you're facing good competition," Moye said. "A lot of people are still doubting us, and if we go out there this week and prove that against a good secondary like Iowa, it might take away a lot of the doubters."
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Iowa 24 Pittsburgh 20 Final Eastern Michigan 14 11 Michigan State 73 Final Western Illinois 7 Northwestern 24 Final Southern Illinois 13 Purdue 35 Final Bowling Green 17 19 Wisconsin 68 Final Maryland 34 Syracuse 20 Final Utah 26 Michigan 10 Final Rutgers 31 Navy 24 Final Massachusetts 7 Penn State 48 Final San Jose State 7 Minnesota 24 Final Texas State 35 Illinois 42 Final Indiana 31 18 Missouri 27 Final Miami (FL) 31 24 Nebraska 41