Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Penn State's Clark not worried about run game
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Daryll Clark saw this coming.
The Penn State senior quarterback obviously didn't want to see the team struggle in the run game, but he anticipated it. When you lose three first-team All-Big Ten players (A.Q. Shipley, Rich Ohrnberger and Gerald Cadogan) from the offensive line and return no players in the spots they played last season, a transition period is inevitable.
Clark, who has performed extremely well in the first two games, urges patience with a run game that ranks last in the Big Ten (107 ypg) and 94th nationally.
"We knew going in that this was going to give us somewhat of a problem," Clark said. "We’re young up front, we’re new up front. The offensive line is the unit that takes the longest to jell, and they’ve shown that. It’s only going to get better. I guarantee it.”
George Zimmer couldn't have said it better, but Penn State needs to see improvement Saturday against Temple. A one-dimensional offense can survive against the below-average competition Penn State has faced to this point, but it won't cut it when Iowa visits Happy to begin Big Ten play next week.
Penn State boasts the Big Ten's top all-around back in Evan Royster and plenty of depth at the position, but the problems are up front. Starters Stefen Wisniewski and Dennis Landolt are back, but Wisniewski has shifted from guard to center and Landolt moves from right tackle over to the left side.
The Lions also might shuffle the offensive line for the Temple game in an effort to spark Royster and perform better in short-yardage situations.
"We've got to be more consistent in the running game, we've got to do a better job with our downfield blocking," head coach Joe Paterno said. "We're going to work hard on that this week."
The early returns have been promising in practice.
"Granted, we’re going against our scout team and everything like that, but it looks good," Clark said. "You practice the way you play, and it’s really, really looking good. And up front, Dennis, Stefen, they’re not worried about it because they see it getting better every single day. And they keep stressing how important it is.
"It’s very important going into the Big Ten season."
Opponents have loaded up the box against Penn State, forcing Clark to attempt 71 passes in the first two games. The senior has completed 69 percent of his throws with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno usually tells Clark three or four days before the game to be ready to air out it if the situation demands it.
"We know in time that we’re going to get back to being balanced," Clark said. "That’s definitely what we want. But if we have to pass to win a game, we don’t have a problem with it, either.
"There's no frustration right now."