Hunt maintains old-school mentality
UNIVERSITY PARK -- Tony Hunt isn't just a running back, he's a 230-pound muscle with a football under his arm.
Hunt is the productive tailback in the Nittany Lions' newfangled spread attack. But he retains the mentality of the old, smashmouth, I-formation days.
It often looks like Hunt would rather run over a defender than around him.
"Yeah, I think so," Hunt said Saturday, after Penn State's 33-15 win against Purdue during which he racked up 129 rushing yards. "I think it really affects guys later on in the game. If you run at them and run at them, they're not really going to step up and try to make a tackle later on."
That seemed to be the case late yesterday. Purdue had scored to come within hailing distance at 23-15. Penn State got the ball, and Hunt bulled his way to a 23-yard gain on the first play, leaving would-be tacklers in his wake.
That started Penn State on the way to a field goal that made it a two-score game again and took the pressure off a Lions team that improved to 8-1 overall, 5-1 in the Big Ten.
"He's the toughest runner I've ever seen," fullback BranDon Snow said, bringing experience not only as a backfield mate but also as a linebacker in past seasons trying to tackle Hunt in practice.
Quarterback Michael Robinson has been lavish in his praise of Hunt even before game. He used the day's events to repeat the message.
"Tony Hunt is what makes this offense go," he said.
Red zone woes
Penn State scored almost at will the previous week at Illinois. Against Purdue, the Lions found themselves struggling in the red zone, settling for four Kevin Kelly field goals, three from 25 yards or less.
"I think we got too cute," coach Joe Paterno said, citing misdirection plays in goal-line offense. "We didn't tend to our knitting."
Penn State has mailings going out to voters for individual awards. Linebacker Paul Posluszny is featured on one card. Another, designed to look like a hotel "Do not disturb" door sign, praises senior cornerback Alan Zemaitis.
"You've got to do stuff like that, especially with the kind of players we've got," Zemaitis said. "It would be wrong if you didn't."
A school sports information member said Paterno had approved such items before the season.
A mailing touting defensive end Tamba Hali, designed to look like it had been mailed from his native Africa, and a Web site promoting quarterback Michael Robinson, also are planned.
This is not totally new for Penn State, which had an e-mail with imbedded video to promote running back Larry Johnson for the Heisman Trophy in 2002.
Paterno said he got run down by one of his players in pregame drills: "One of those big linemen knocked me right smack on my rear end. I got a sore knee and a shoulder. Other than that, I'm great." ... Kelly has set the Penn State freshman scoring record with 81 points, surpassing Craig Fayak's 74 in 1990. Kelly had four field goals. ... Snow's two touchdown runs were the first of his career. ... The 15 points was Purdue's lowest output of the season, as were the Boilermakers' 271 yards of total offense. ... Calvin Lowry's fourth-quarter interception was his team-leading third this season and eighth of his career.