Nittany Lions Squeeze Orange for 28-7 Win
Written by: William Albright on Sunday, September 13th, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK — Nothing spectacular, but successful in recording yet another Nittany Lion win. That is what the Penn State Nittany Lion fans have become accustomed to watching their team do on Saturday afternoons.
In workmanlike fashion, the Lions won their second game in as many starts Saturday afternoon as they methodically controlled the Syracuse Orangemen for a 28-7 win before 106,387 fans at Beaver Stadium.
Most coaches feel that a team usually shows its most improvement between the first and second games of a season, and for the most part, PSU coach Joe Paterno liked what he saw from his troops.
“I think we played most of the game well,” said JoePa. “I thought our defense was hustling to the ball and put a lot of pressure on the ball against a kid (SU quarterback Greg Paulus) who I think will be a heckuva quarterback once he gets a couple of games under his belt. I think we played better (than last week), but I think we have a ways to go. We showed some improvement, whether we showed enough I won’t know till I look at some tapes.”
While quarterback Darryl Clark continued to assault the airways by engineering the Lion passing attack, the Lion running game was almost non-existent. For the game, eight different backs combined to rush for 78 yards on 35 attempts.
“Syracuse put that extra guy in there and it seemed like he must have made eight or nine tackles in the first half,” noted Paterno. “There were a couple of times I thought we were going to have a pretty good play and he came up and smacked us and kept us to a three or 4-yard gain. When they are playing you that tight, you have to throw the football and we probably didn’t throw it enough.”
So what about improvement by the offensive line?
I thought we did a little better job in blocking and I think we’ll continue to improve,” said Paterno. “It’s tough when you have that many guys in the box, but we obviously have to do a better job.”
As for Clark, he is off to a quick start, having completed 49 of 71 attempts for 593 yards in the two wins. He has tossed a half dozen touchdown passes, his scoring throws involving five different receivers.
“We have been tested in certain situations, like today,” said Clark. “Our defense did well, again, and bailed us out of a couple of situations where Syracuse could have scored and turned it into a difficult game. That is definitely a different Syracuse team than we played last season. They are going to do a good job in the Big East, that is for sure.”
Clark’s favorite target in the win was Graham Zug who hauled in a half dozen Clark aerials for 79 yards and one score.
“I was very impressed with him (Zug), but I knew he had that type of game (in him)” said Clark of his teammate. “He is what I call a diamond in the rough. I have been telling everyone about him a lot. He is somewhat undersized (6-2, 183), but he is one of our best route runners and he has great hands. He puts himself in the right position in our offense to make great plays and he has done nothing but that so far.”
As for the defense, it bent a couple of times, but it also stepped up to make big plays for most of the 60 minutes.
Sean Lee was all over the field for most of the afternoon and came up with 13 tackles, while Josh Hull also had a good day, posting 11 stops while also intercepting a Paulus pass.
“I don’t know what more I can say (about Lee). I think he’s a great player,” praised Paterno. “He reminds me very much of (former All-American Jack) Ham. I think Ham was a step faster, but Sean’s in the same league. Ham’s in the pro Hall of Fame. Not only is he a heckuva football player, but he plays every down and sets an example for everyone out there. I thought (Josh) Hull played a great game, too, today. He was solid.”
The Lions, who open the season with four straight home games, host the Temple Owls Saturday in a noon kickoff.
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