It was a media frenzy at Penn State football's Media Day Friday. But as players took time to talk about everything, from the upcoming expectations for the season to their favorite place to eat a slice of pizza, it was head coach Joe Paterno who was in the brightest of spotlights.
Paterno addressed everything from the off-the-field incidents which have been in public eye in recent memory to the Nittany Lions' starting quarterback battle. As far as whether a decision has been made in that department?
No, not yet, Paterno said. We haven't scrimmaged yet. I think they've all done really well so far. Everyone keeps pushing [Paul] Cianciolo off to the side, and we also have a walk-on that's really impressed me. Obviously we're comfortable with the three kids we just mentioned that have been around. So I think we've made some progress but we've still got a long way to go.
Although the 81-year-old coach insists the quarterback battle is between more than just Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin, fans will likely see one of the two, or possibly both, on the field during Penn State's opening game against Coastal Carolina Aug. 30.
But whoever will be under center when the season kicks off later this month, it will be up to the Lions' experienced wide receiving corps and offensive line to help the gun-slinger acclimate himself into the starting role.
Penn State's projected starting offensive line boasts three seniors, highlighted by preseason All-Big Ten center A.Q. Shipley. As for the receivers, seniors Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler will all assist in an offense that is expected to alter its game plan and hopefully result in more points on the scoreboard.
The nice thing is that the wideouts have really helped the quarterbacks, Paterno said. They've helped coach them, saying 'hey, you were a little late on that throw' or 'are you gonna break another yard?' It's been those kind of things that have really helped.
Paterno was as animated as ever, even taking time during his answers to impersonate draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. Following his press conference Paterno disappeared from the spotlight, letting his players soak up some of the attention before beginning practice.
As kickers Kevin Kelly and Collin Wagner took turns blasting footballs through the uprights, players trickled out of the Lasch Football building, complete with jerseys and pads on, and began their warm-up drills.
With players lined up in their familiar stretching block, Paterno re-emerged, swapping his suit and tie for his unmistakable rolled-up khakis and black Nike shoes. After a quick talk with Clark and some other players, the team went to work.
Some formations had Clark at the helm, while others saw Devlin or Cianciolo take charge under center. No matter who Paterno selects as the starter, Penn State's plans to change to a more spread attack will give a new look to the Lion offense.
And the folks on the offensive side of the ball are not the only ones happy about that.
When you play spread teams it's the whole field you have to cover, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. There's a lot of one-on-one tackling, so if you play a spread team, that's the number one thing you'd better be ready to deal with.