Rush is Patient With Guard Rotation

Penn State senior Charles Rush has experienced exactly one winning season in his Nittany Lion career to date. Which may explain why the coaching staff's decision to platoon him with redshirt freshman A.Q. Shipley at left guard the past two games is not overly bothersome.

“It's the way things have gone,” Rush said Tuesday morning. “They've decided to rotate and get him some experience. That's fine with me. As long as we're winning, I don't care who's in there.”

That kind of team-first attitude has been missing from the program in recent years. But it has always been a part of Rush's approach. While the offensive line has been a cauldron of off-the-field controversy for the past three seasons, the Erie, Pa., native has been a steadying influence.

He has already picked up his degree in economics. And as an Eagle Scout, well, let's just say he knows when and when not to break out the hunting equipment.

On the field, he's done whatever the coaching staff has asked, even when he wasn't sure it was the best move for his career. As a redshirt freshman in 2002, he was a backup defensive lineman, playing behind current NFL athletes Jimmy Kennedy and Anthony Adams.

The following spring he moved to offensive guard. Though hesitant at first, he wound up embracing the change and started eight games that year. He started every game at left guard in 2004, as well.

While the Penn State offense came to life in the first two games this season, the line made too many mistakes in the eyes of the staff. So in week two against Cincinnati, Lion coach Joe Paterno made changes, including a second-quarter shift from Rush to Shipley.

“We took out Rush because he had a couple of bad plays and put Shipley in,” Paterno said. “But we had intended to play Shipley some.”

Shipley spent the off-season playing center. But the return of E.Z. Smith from a disciplinary suspension allowed him to shift over to guard. Rush and Shipley have rotated since the middle of the second game.

“I expect it to continue,” Rush said. “A.Q. is a good player, and he's young, he still has a lot of years to play. I think to try to get him as much experience as you can is helpful. I've been rotating most of my career at Penn State, so it really doesn't bother me.”

From Rush's perspective, there is also something to be said for building depth on the offensive line. Though the Lions have yet to be seriously tested this season, with three home wins over clearly overmatched opponents, that figures to change now that the Big Ten season is here.

The league campaign starts with a road trip to Northwestern this weekend.

“I think it has helped us out,” Rush said. “It's helped us out by keeping us fresh and by getting other players experience. So when it comes to the Big Ten, they'll be ready. It's going to be tough competition, and by having this experience from the past few weeks it's going to help them in their development.”

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