Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Fling

So spring practice started this week in earnest and, as usual, there are a bevy of questions yet to be answered. How are the glut of injuries suffered last season mending? Who will provide depth at running back and cornerback? How big has JoePa's doghouse grown? But most importantly for the first time in years we get to talk about a quarterback controversy. Think it's not already blossomed into a full blown controversy? Look at the abundance of articles already written about it: here, here, and here just to pick a few.

So why not jump in the fray here's what we know:

Daryll Clark - 6'2" 228 pounds - senior (but could have two years of eligibility if he completes his classes)
Last Season - 6 of 9 for 31 yards 0TD's and 0 INT's – 12 rushes for 80 yards and 2 TD's

Pat Devlin – 6'4" 212 pounds – sophomore
Last Season – 0 of 1 for zippo

So yeah there's not a lot of base data to go on here folks. Clark was used in the Alamo Bowl, where he rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown against a surprised Texas A&M squad. Clark gets the poor man's Michael Robinson comparison thrown at him on a near daily basis because of his mobility and similar stature but we know precious little about his throwing acumen. As for the other guy, Devlin broke the Pennsylvania high school record for career passing yardage during his career at Downingtown East High. He threw 3,300 yards for 35 touchdowns as a senior and 2,100 yards with 21 touchdowns as a junior. So he's a highly touted kid from PA but then again so was Anthony Morelli.

*sound of crickets chirping*

Moving along...

If you believe the reports, both quarterbacks have a good presence in the huddle with Clark being the more vocal of the two but both seem to have more fire then Morelli displayed in his two years at the helm. Clark was the de facto backup last season but we have no idea who's the leader because... well... it's Joe Paterno and he doesn't tell the media anything relevant or in this offseason anything at all.

Jay Paterno may have given us a hint when he unveiled his devilishly invented Spread HD on the world earlier this year (striking fear in Big Ten defensive coordinators no doubt). Now I'm no football genius and I have no F'in idea what this "Spread HD" is but it has the word "spread" in it which would lead one to believe there's going to be lots of wide receivers and lots of running opportunity for the quarterback. That and Jay mentioned running and throwing for 200 yards a game. So with that in our back pockets and the knowledge that Clark is a running threat, or at least Penn State has used that aspect of his game in the past; it would seem that the coaching staff is gearing the offense toward Clark. That's not to say Devlin can't run he just tends to lean more to the throwing side of the spectrum.

That brings us to the one aspect of the controversy that I've always believed trumps everything else: Joe Paterno. Specifically Joe Paterno's unwavering insistence on always starting the upperclassman at quarterback and there's where I think Devlin is doomed. In my mind Pat could blow Clark out of the water in spring and again in the summer but Daryll has waited patiently for "his turn" and we all know Paterno rewards those that patiently wait. You could knock me over with a feather if Devlin trots onto the field the starting quarterback against Coastal Carolina (did I just write that?) on August 30th.

It is possible that the coaches use some sort of two-headed quarterback system whereby both guys get in the game possibly at the same time in this new Spread HD world we live in but someone will have to be the guy that takes control of the team when it's crunch time and I believe that guy will be Clark. I would much rather go with the quarterback that has three years of eligibility left but I don't get a say. So we'll probably get two years of Clark and then one year of Devlin with a season this year where both struggle and get replaced by the other. Make sure you have plenty of beer when football season rolls around folks you're probably going to need it.

Update: the official Spring Roster can be found here in all it's PDF glory.

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