Getting Up to Speed

To prepare the Penn State defense to face explosive Denard Robinson and Michigan's no-huddle attack, the scout-team offense is being led by a pair of QBs usually found at other positions.

No. 25 Michigan rolls into Happy Valley this weekend sporting the nation's second-best offense and most explosive quarterback.

So how does unranked Penn State prepare to face a no-huddle attack that is producing 532 yards per game? And how are Joe Paterno's troops readying themselves to tackle QB Denard Robinson, who has already accumulated 1,319 passing yards and 1,096 rushing yards while accounting for 18 touchdowns?

The Nittany Lions hope asking their foreign team to go double time and certain scout players to pull double duty will do the trick.

“It's never the exact look you are going to get in a game, but the scout team is doing a great job,” cornerback D'Anton Lynn said Wednesday. “We have two (scout-team offense) huddles going at once. So when we run one play, the other huddle already knows what it is going to do. So we're getting rapid-fire plays like it will be in the game.”

But that does not address how Penn State is preparing to handle Robinson, who has the speed and instincts of a running back but is obviously an effective passer, as well. They only player on the Nittany Lion roster who would fall even close to that category is sophomore multi-purpose threat Curtis Drake, but he is still recovering from a broken leg sustained in August and expected to miss the entire season.

So the staff settled on redshirt sophomore Evan Lewis and true freshman Alex Kenney to share the role of Robinson.

Lewis is a 5-foot-10, 182-pound walk-on who is currently listed as a receiver but has also practiced at cornerback in his career. He was a first-team AAA All-State quarterback and the AAA Player of the Year at Gettysburg (Pa.) High in 2007. (The second-team AAA All-State QB that year? Matt McGloin.)

Kenney, who has already played cornerback and slot receiver at Penn State, excelled as a receiver, running back, defensive back and return man while leading State College (Pa.) High to the PIAA AAAA championship game in 2009. The 6-0, 190-pounder was also a nationally ranked sprinter in high school.

“We're putting some skill-position guys at quarterback to try to give us a better look at (Robinson's) speed,” Lynn said. “We have to keep our eyes open at all times, we have to take good angles and have all 11 guys running at the football.”

That was in line what Paterno said about Robinson a day earlier.

“You've got to understand, anytime he's got his hands on the football, he's liable to just turn it on and make a big play on you,” Paterno said. “So everybody's got to be alert and know where he is, and knowing when he's got the football, that kind of thing.”

That all starts with getting a feel for things from the scout team. Lynn admits it is not exactly the same as actually facing Robinson and Michigan's no-huddle attack. But it is at least a good starting point.

“We just have to work on it and practice,” he said. “Our scout team has been doing a great job with the rapid-fire plays. We have to stay discipline and stay on our assignments.”


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