Taking it in Stride

Joe Paterno's status proves to be little distraction as Nittany Lions dispatch Temple 45-3 at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno walked out with his team to begin Saturday's game against Temple. He coached from the sideline for two quarters and then walked off the field at halftime to work the remainder of the game from the coaches' booth.

Paterno's injured leg was the overriding storyline of yet another Penn State blowout of a non-conference opponent. This one came at the hands of the Owls, 45-3, and allowed the 15th-ranked Lions to improve to 4-0.

The career leader in Division I career victories with 376, Paterno was bothered by the attention paid to his leg.

"Ah, let's not get into me, all right," Paterno said after being asked how he hurt his leg. "Let's talk about the football game. Geez … I probably kicked a wall. I probably got a picture of you in my room and I tried to kick it.”

He directed the last comment to a reporter who pressed him on the issue of the injury. In reality, Paterno hurt his leg while horsing around in a kicking drill a few weeks ago.

Asked whether he felt the focus on his leg took away the spotlight from his team, Paterno said, “Absolutely. I got a bunch of guys out there fighting all kinds of adversity, with different lineups, hanging in there together, all right, and you're worried about my leg."

He was able to walk along the sideline - albeit gingerly. However, he was transported from the press box elevator to the media room in a golf cart, though that could have been because of the route from the elevator to the media room. He had to go through the lower concourse with fans leaving the stadium.

When he finally gave an assessment of his leg, Paterno downplayed the injury.

"My leg's OK. Stand on it too long and it aches," Paterno said. "But I'm probably babying myself."

In the press box, Paterno had more input into both the offensive and defensive play calling. He said he sat between both the offensive and defensive coaches in the booth. He also had a headset where he said he could hit a button - one button was to talk to the offensive coaches on the sideline, the other connected him to the defense.

On the sideline during the second half, the Nittany Lions didn't notice any differences with Paterno being upstairs.

"The show goes on without Joe being on the sidelines," linebacker Josh Hull said. "It's obviously a little difficult. It's always great when Joe's on the sidelines right with the action."

Already bothered by the sore leg, Paterno was displeased with Penn State's effort in the first quarter Saturday. For the first time all season, the Nittany Lions were held scoreless in the opening stanza. It only gained 67 yards of offense. And Daryll Clark tossed his first interception of the season when he overthrew 6-foot-6 Brett Brackett.

The play could only be characterized as extraordinarily sloppy, and several Lions forewarned that this was the last time that Penn State could get away with that type of carelessness because the Lions open conference play against Illinois next Saturday.

"I think it got us mad," running back Evan Royster said. "We came out and did a lot better in the second quarter. But then again we didn't let it affect us in a bad way."

Royster finished with only nine carries for 73 yards and a second quarter touchdown. He carried the ball just once during the third quarter. During a full-contact day of practice, Royster tweaked his back after he lowered his shoulder into a defensive lineman but said he was not hurt.

On the defensive side, it was a different story. Penn State had seven sacks, three by linebacker Navorro Bowman and two each by defensive ends Josh Gaines and Aaron Maybin.

Bowman, who started for the first time this year at outside linebacker, was all over the field on Saturday. He recorded 11 tackles, eight of which were solo. He also forced a fumble and had an interception that he returned for 29 yards.

"Yeah, I mean that's why I'm in college playing D-I football,” he said. “I've had plenty of games like this. But being able to play this game at this level, I'm really excited."


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