Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: Penn State
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Penn State Nittany Lions
Record: 6-1 (2-1 Big Ten)
It's tough to get an accurate read on Penn State midway through the season. The Lions have faced only one ranked opponent (Iowa) and left Happy Valley only one time to face the Big Ten's worst team (Illinois). The defense also hasn't been at full strength as standout linebackers Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee have barely played together. It's safe to say the offense is making steady progress, especially up front, and wide receivers Derek Moye and Chaz Powell are doing a nice job of filling the graduation losses. Penn State's defense has been extremely stingy, not allowing a first-half touchdown and rising to second nationally in points allowed (8.7 ppg). Bowman has been dominant since his return from a groin injury, and fellow linebacker Josh Hull has blossomed in a starting role. Then again, the Lions haven't faced an FBS offense ranked in the top 70 and played four units ranked 99th or worse. Bottom line: We'll learn a lot more about Penn State in the second half, beginning Saturday at Michigan (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).
Offensive MVP, QB Daryll Clark: He might not be as sharp as he was last season, but Clark carried the offense through the first few weeks while the line jelled. Clark ranks second in the league in both pass efficiency (144.3 rating) and passing touchdowns (13). He struggled against Iowa but has bounced back nicely the last three weeks. Honorable mentions go to Moye and running backs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green.
Defensive MVP, LB Josh Hull: Considering both Bowman and Lee have missed time with injuries, Hull has been invaluable to the Big Ten's top defense. He leads Penn State and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 69 tackles, including five for loss and a sack. Hull also has two interceptions and four passes defended. Honorable mentions go to Bowman, defensive end Jack Crawford and defensive tackles Jared Odrick and Ollie Ogbu.