But by Saturday afternoon, Evan Royster will be ready to board a bus for Beaver Stadium and take on Illinois in Penn State's Big Ten opener. More than ready, most likely. Said the redshirt sophomore tailback, I get real anxious. I want to get out there and start playing.
Royster is the Big Ten's eighth-leading rusher with an average of 94.8 yards a game. He's averaging 8.1 yards a carry, and with his seven touchdowns he has scored more points (42) than any conference player except Michigan State running back Javon Ringer (66). Ringer, it should be noted, has gotten three times as many carries as Royster through the season's first four games.
The Nittany Lion ball carriers have been focusing on turnover avoidance this week. The Lions have fumbled 11 times in their past three games, and Joe Paterno called their occasional lapses a tremendous concern. Royster said foreign team players are preparing the starters for Illinois by trying to strip the ball in practice, and coaches are doing the same in between drills so that players keep their guard up.
Royster, whose cheering section has dubbed itself, brilliantly, the Blue Royster Cult, is expecting to take more of a beating than he did while running wild against Penn State's non-conference opponents.
Getting into the Big Ten, it's going to be a lot more physical, he said. Every team is going to be ready to play us. Hopefully, we'll be ready to play them.