Lions Overcome Injuries, Illness, Owls

No. 5 Penn State is not sharp against Temple but still easily improves to 3-0 on the season.

The theme has generally stayed consistent through No. 5 Penn State's first three non-conference games.

This time, on a breezy, sunny afternoon at Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lion offense was once again inconsistent and the defense was once again dominant in a 31-6 win against Temple.

There were, however, a few twists to the plot after the third easy victory in as many weeks -- namely, injuries and illness.

With its Big Ten opener coming next Saturday night against Iowa, Penn State had a few injury scares against the Owls. This coming as linebacker Navorro Bowman did not dress for the second consecutive game due to a groin pull.

In the second half of this one, linebacker Sean Lee was sitting down on the grass on the Penn State sideline while being examined by doctors.

The senior captain, who missed all of 2008 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, did not appear for postgame interviews. PSU said Lee sustained a minor lower leg injury but was not any more specific.

“I think he got nicked a little bit,” Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. “But it's nothing to worry about.”

Bradley added that he does not expect Lee to miss any time next week, but Bowman's status is still day-to-day. Whether or not Bowman will dress for the Big Ten opener will be team doctor Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli's call.

Quarterback Daryll Clark, who was the recipient of several hard hits from the Temple defense, said he didn't know about Lee's status.

“He had some ice on his knee,” Clark said. “I didn't ask him what was going on at the time because he was busy getting looked at or whatever.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Graham Zug missed much of the second half after returning a punt late in the second quarter and appearing to have been hit in the head. Clark said that Zug told him that he was experiencing a headache.

He was unsure if Zug had suffered a concussion.

Clark was able to escape the game unscathed despite several tough shots and one instance where he appeared to be favoring his shoulder.

“It was a really, really weird, tingling feeling. Almost like a stinger,” Clark said. “Someone hit my arm right as I was throwing. Something just jolted through my whole arm and I was like 'Wow, what is this?' It's OK now, it's just a little sore like in the shoulder area.”

Clark, who finished the game 16 of 26 for 167 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, said his arm was tingling for a quarter and a half.

Before the game even started, Penn State had already spent the previous days battling a health problem. Several players were sick, though head coach Joe Paterno would not specify what the illness was. He said that a couple of players had a fever, while others were feeling “lousy.'”

“I'm not sure the figure, but there were about 15, 16 kids one time or other we were worried about,” Paterno said. “And they were all ready to play today.”

Most of the ill players were freshmen, Clark said. Of the starters, tight end Mickey Shuler and tailback Evan Royster were affected.

“I visited [Royster] like three times at his apartment yesterday to make sure he was OK,” Clark said. “He was chugging water, Gatorade, orange juice and taking all the medicines that he needed because he said he's not going to sit out this game.

“He looked bad. He looked really bad.”

Royster did not look bad Saturday. He exploded for 134 rushing yards and a score on 19 carries. Otherwise, though, the offense operated in fits and starts.

Clark said that all the sick players were able to practice this week -- though at times they were not 100 percent - therefore, the offensive sloppiness vs. the Owls can't necessarily be blamed on the illnesses.

In what was easily his worst game of the 2009 season -- yes, a small sample size -- Clark took the blame for a unit that put up just 359 yards of total offense.

"I just thought it was a lack of execution," Clark said.


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