Lions run away to victory over hapless Illinois

October, 3, 2009
10/03/09
6:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


A quick check of the vital signs shows that Penn State's running game has a pulse again.

Illinois, meanwhile, could be flat-lining.

After getting manhandled by Iowa's defensive front last week, Penn State's offensive line turned in the type of performance it needed in a 35-17 win against Illinois. The Lions' front five wore down Illinois as the game went along and created running room for quarterback Daryll Clark and running backs Stephfon Green and Evan Royster. Head coach Joe Paterno insists that Clark didn't play poorly last week, but the senior signal-caller needed a rebound performance like this one. Also, credit Galen Hall and Jay Paterno for some nice adjustments at halftime.

Green and Royster both eclipsed 100 rushing yards and Clark added 83 yards and two touchdowns as Penn State piled up 338 rush yards and five touchdowns in the victory. If the Lions' new-look line can build off of this performance, Penn State should be in good shape when the schedule gets tougher later this month. The defense did a great job today and will only get better when linebacker Sean Lee returns.

As for Illinois, things are getting very desperate for head coach Ron Zook and his senior quarterback, Juice Williams. The Illini (1-3) have been outscored 102-26 in three games against FBS opponents, and the offense didn't reach the end zone until just 8:46 remained. Whether it's new offensive coordinator Mike Schultz, a more conservative game plan or Williams' continued inconsistency, there's something very wrong with the Illini offense.

Will Zook stick with Williams? He's extremely loyal to the senior, his first major recruit at Illinois, but his job seems to be in jeopardy, and it might be time for Eddie McGee.

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