AKRON: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's muggy mugging of the Zips at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

No. 8 Penn State opened the 2009 season with an easy home win over Akron.

How easy was it? The Nittany Lions only had to play a half to get the victory.

OK, so we are exaggerating a bit. But after breezing to a 31-0 lead at intermission, Penn State sleepwalked through the final 30 minutes and won, 31-7.

Here is what went down on a hot day at Beaver Stadium.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark kicked off his senior campaign in style, connecting on 29 of 40 passes for 353 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. We got the sense he could have thrown for 500 yards if the staff allowed it.

CLOSE SECOND: Redshirt sophomore wideout Derek Moye was spectacular, with six catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.

CLOSE THIRD: Linebacker Nathan Stupar stepped in when starter Navorro Bowman went to the sideline early in the game (more on that later). He finished with a game-high 10 tackles and a sack.

TURNING POINT: With the Lions up 7-0, Akron faced first and 10 from its own 20. Norman Shuford took a handoff and defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu threw him for a 3-yard loss. It set a tone for the game, and the Zips never recovered.

SOLID STRATEGY: Defensive line coach Larry Johnson used a variety of stunts to keep Akron's offensive line off balance. State finished with four sacks and 13 tackles in the backfield.

NUMBERS GAME: The Zips had 30 carries for 16 yards and were in negative figures until the fourth quarter.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Jeremy Boone punted twice for a 43-yard average and had one ball downed at the 1-yard line. What a weapon, even if he wasn't needed in this game.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Up man Andrew Dailey took the snap on a second-quarter fake punt and rumbled for 37 yards. It was PSU's second-longest offensive play of the game.


• Penn State's ineffective running game. We get that Akron was selling out against the run -- daring the Lions to pass - but PSU could not sustain anything on the ground. Dailey was the only Lion with a rush of more than 14 yards.

• State's fake field goal pooch punt in the third quarter. Up 31-7, the Lions faced fourth and 1 at the Akron 35. Rather than showing a little confidence in the rebuilt offensive line and a rushing game that had been held in check to that point, PSU went with the silly gimmick play. Place-kicker Collin Wagner punted the ball into the end zone for a touchback, giving PSU a net of 15 yards on the play.

• Wagner struggling in his debut as the starting place-kicker. He missed two of three field goals, including a 28-yarder. He had two touchbacks on six kickoffs, but the Zips popped a 42-yard return against him. He also came close to putting one kickoff out of bounds, but was bailed out when Akron's Dashan Miller fielded the ball.

• The staff using starting tailback Evan Royster on punt returns. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Royster had his clock cleaned on an early return, drawing a personal foul on the Zip who hit him. No need to subject him to more abuse than he's going to get as a workhorse back.

• Bowman's injury being reported a "minor groin pull." As someone in the press box quipped, a groin pull is never minor to the person who sustains it.

• The band's halftime tribute to “singer, dancer and humanitarian” Michael Jackson. We have no problem with a tribute to the pop music icon. But, given the controversy surrounding him in life and death, spare us the one-sided resume.

HIT SQUAD: Receiver Graham Zug had the hit of the day on an early reception by Moye. Zug signaled for Moye to run his way and then wiped out defensive back Manley Waller. A manly play, indeed.

HIDDEN HERO: Fullback Joe Suhey had four catches for 40 yards. That's a nice option out of the backfield.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Linebacker Sean Lee (six tackles, two for losses) and defensive end Jerome Hayes (1.5 tackles for losses) both looked good after long layoffs due to ACL injuries.


• PSU head coach Joe Paterno jog onto the field. It was good to see after he spent most of last season in the press box due to a hip injury. He had hip replacement surgery last November.

• The true freshmen who played in the game were receivers Devon Smith and Curtis Drake, quarterback Kevin Newsome, defensive end Sean Stanley, safety Gerald Hodges and cornerback Stephon Morris.

• Starting safety Nick Sukay switched from No. 10 to No. 9. Sukay and tight end Andrew Quarless both wear No. 10, but since they are both on a punt coverage team one had to change. Speaking of which…

• Redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Zordich, who usually wears No. 9, dressed but did not play. He was charged with DUI earlier in the week.

• Senior cornerback A.J. Wallace saw significant playing time. At the start of preseason practice, Paterno said he might bench Wallace a couple of games for academic issues. Paterno said after the Akron game that Wallace had taken care of those problems and is out of the doghouse.

• Cramping was a problem for the Lions in the second half. Quarless and guard Lou Eliades both left the game with leg cramps.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Sure, the passing game was great Saturday. But will the Lions be able to run the ball when they have to?


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