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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Penn State spring wrap

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State Nittany Lions
2008 overall record: 11-2

2008 conference record: 7-1

Returning starters

Offense: 5; Defense: 4; Special teams: 1

Top returners

QB Daryll Clark, RB Evan Royster, C Stefen Wisniewski, DT Jared Odrick, LB Sean Lee, LB Navorro Bowman, S Drew Astorino

Key losses

WR Derrick Williams, WR Deon Butler, WR Jordan Norwood C A.Q. Shipley, LT Gerald Cadogan, DE Aaron Maybin, DE Josh Gaines, S Anthony Scirrotto, CB Lydell Sargeant

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Evan Royster* (1,236 yds)
Passing
: Daryll Clark* (2,592 yds)
Receiving: Deon Butler (810 yds)
Tackles
: Navorro Bowman* (106)
Sacks
: Aaron Maybin (12)
Interceptions
: Lydell Sargeant (4)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Akron
Sept. 12 Syracuse
Sept. 19 Temple
Sept. 26 Iowa
Oct. 3 at Illinois
Oct. 10 Eastern Illinois
Oct. 17 Minnesota
Oct. 24 at Michigan
Oct. 31 at Northwestern
Nov. 7 Ohio State
Nov. 14 Indiana
Nov. 21 at Michigan State
Spring answers

1. Line is fine -- Despite losing three major contributors at defensive end, Penn State's reloading line appears to be fine for 2009. Sophomore end Jack Crawford looks like the team's next dominant pass-rusher. There's good depth at defensive tackle around All-America candidate Jared Odrick, and if Penn State can get a bit healthier at the end positions, it should be solid up front.

2. Daryll does it -- Daryll Clark was the Big Ten's top quarterback by a fairly wide margin in 2008, and the senior built on his first season as a starter with a strong offseason. Clark has put the coaches at ease about the direction of the offense. He's the undisputed leader of the unit, and more importantly, he wants to lead. There might not be a more valuable player in the Big Ten this fall.

3. Wideouts emerge -- Penn State loses three multiyear starters at receiver, but several players showed this spring that they're ready to step up. Both Graham Zug and Brett Brackett caught touchdowns in the spring game and look to build off of their experience from last year. Derek Moye and Chaz Powell provide variety in the wide receiving corps, and the tight end position should be featured more after Andrew Quarless performed well this spring.

Fall questions

1. Secondary -- The wide receivers' performance in the spring game came with a caveat, as they faced a secondary that needs a ton of work before Sept. 5. Penn State loses all four starters from a unit that wasn't all that good to begin with, and head coach Joe Paterno expressed major concerns about the defensive backs this spring. The Lions need A.J. Wallace to get healthy and Drew Astorino to set the tone in the back four.

2. Offensive line -- Right tackle Dennis Landolt is Penn State's only returning starter playing the position he played in 2008. There are a lot of new faces up front, and it will take time for the group to jell. Three spots are up for grabs this summer, and talented junior Stefen Wisniewski still needs time to adjust to the center spot.

3. Quarterback depth -- Despite Kevin Newsome's encouraging performance in the spring game, Penn State likely can't afford a major injury to Clark to keep its Big Ten title hopes alive. The Lions need continued development from both Newsome and Matt McGloin this summer so the coaches can feel comfortable turning things over if Clark goes down.