|Penn State's spread might trump Purdue's|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 03 October 2008 09:29|
The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions have unleashed their ``Spread HD'' on college football this year, and they rank among the nation's leaders in scoring and total offense. While Purdue's pass-happy version has been effective, the Boilermakers' ability - or inability - to slow down Penn State's more balanced version could determine who wins on Saturday.
Penn State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) ranks fourth nationally in scoring (49.8 points per game), eighth in yards rushing per game (267.6), ninth in total offense (515.2) and 13th in passing efficiency.
Penn State's Daryll Clark has completed 63 percent of his passes for 896 yards and nine touchdown passes, and has rushed for 131 yards and three scores. Tiller said he expected Penn State's offense to diversify when Clark took over for the departed Anthony Morelli.
ink that Daryll Clark brings another element to the field with his run threat,'' Tiller said. ``I did see their bowl game last year, the Alamo Bowl, and I saw how when he went in there, how the demeanor of their offense changed. And I made a comment to our coaches in the offseason that we're going to see a different looking Penn State this year with Clark at quarterback, and certainly that's been the case.''
It will be the last meeting between the two longest-tenured coaches in the conference. Tiller, in his 12th season at Purdue, will retire at the end of the season. He's 2-7 at Purdue against Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
Purdue (2-2, 0-0) also will try to break its string of 15 consecutive losses to ranked opponents. To do that, the Boilermakers will need their struggling defense to improve. The Boilermakers are giving up 26 points and 439 yards per game.
The run defense has been especially poor. Notre Dame gouged the Boilermakers for 201 yards on the ground in a 38-21 win last Saturday, two weeks after Oregon rolled for 306 yards rushing in a 32-26 overtime win in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers rank 99th nationally against the run.
Penn State has made it clear that running the ball will be a priority as it tries to control the game, and the crowd, in its second road game of the season.
ll will be one of the biggest parts of our game plan. We're very excited to prove ... we can win away from Beaver Stadium.''
Evan Royster has run for 518 yards and averages nearly eight yards a carry for the Lions. Stephfon Green has 314 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
Penn State also has established a quick-strike passing game. Receiver Jordan Norwood has 18 catches for 318 yards and four scores, but he's dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's 38-24 win over Illinois and could sideline him again.
``Well, I think he's going to be OK,'' Paterno said. ``Don't hold me to that. He's a heck of a football player. Obviously, we'd love to have him. But we're going to play our game the same way we play with or without him.''
Receiver Derrick Williams was Big Ten special teams player of the week after racking up 241 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against Illinois.
``He is an extremely skilled player and he is extremely fast,'' Tiller said. ``You know, each year he's gotten more physical. He's stronger. He's, I'm sure, bigger, stronger and probably faster than he's ever been.''
Purdue counters with Curtis Painter and Kory Sheets.
ing Purdue's Drew Brees (11,792), Northwestern's Brett Basanez (10,580) and Iowa's Chuck Long (10,461).
Sheets averages 110 yards rushing per game, and could break Mike Alstott's school record for career rushing touchdowns Saturday. They are tied with 39.
The Nittany Lions rank 11th in scoring defense and 14th in total defense.
``I think it's a typical Penn State team,'' Tiller said. ``There aren't any weaknesses out there.''