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Penn State might put QBs on run

| Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The superficial analysis holds that the battle to start at quarterback for Penn State is a contest between Daryll Clark, a runner with limited passing skills, and Pat Devlin, a passer short on running ability.

This assessment, coach Joe Paterno said, shortchanges both.

Clark played extensively in Penn State's 24-17 Alamo Bowl win over Texas A&M, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run, but he didn't attempt a pass. In the 2007 season, he was 6 of 9 passing for 31 yards in limited action.

Jay Paterno, the Lions' quarterbacks coach, wanted to use Clark more last year.

"I tied his hands," the elder Paterno said. "I blame myself for that."

Devlin, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall, played even less last season, attempting just one pass and having no carries.

But while Devlin is a more heralded passer, he also moves well and has good size, at 6-foot-4, 222 pounds.

"If you looked at Devlin's stats, running and everything else, his size and everything else, he may not be as strong a runner as Clark, but he's pretty good," Joe Paterno said.

Both quarterbacks flashed signs of ability in a practice open to the media earlier this spring.

The presence of two quarterbacks with some running ability has prompted speculation that the offense will be turned back to 2005, when the run-pass threat of Michael Robinson helped Penn State to an 11-1 record and a No. 3 finish in the final polls.

That stuff has remained in the playbook, Jay Paterno said, adding, "You just pull out the things that to go the strength of the guy under center."

In the case of Anthony Morelli, that was an emphasis on passing, and he responded with two seasons throwing for more than 2,000 yards each.

But in the college game, a running quarterback has become very desirable.

"The truth of matter is it gives you another option," Jay Paterno said. "If Peyton Manning is back to pass on third down and the left tackle misses a block, you're punting. The guys we have, on third-and-10, if we miss a block, we have another option."

Despite the talk about 2005, 1999 might be a more accurate reference point. Then, Kevin Thompson got the bulk of the work at quarterback, throwing for 1,916 yards and 13 touchdowns. But Rashard Casey was used often enough to rush for five touchdowns and throw for six more.

Looking back

Here's a look at Michael Robinson's 2005 statistics:

Rushing: 163 carries, 806 yards, 11TDs

Passing: 162-311, 2,350 yards, 17 TDs, 10 INT

Joe Paterno tired quickly of questions regarding using both quarterbacks this fall.

"I don't have to make that decision (now)," he said. "Why should I make it?"

Later, having been asked again about playing two quarterbacks, Paterno said, "Maybe three, I don't know. Do I talk clearly or don't I?"

Wide receiver Deon Butler sees little to choose between the two aspiring Lions quarterbacks.

"As players, we feel comfortable with either Pat or Daryll out there," he said. "The coaching staff will decide what they want to do with that."

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