But next season is going to be a different story. Penn State has a number of candidates to replace Clark, notably this year's backup, Kevin Newsome, who will be a sophomore next fall. But Newsome is apparently no sure bet to line up under center when Penn State opens its 2010 season against Youngstown State. Said Paterno, It's not a done deal who's going to be the leading candidate.
Paterno began sizing up Penn State's 2010 team Saturday morning at his annual morning-after news conference. He admitted during the informal, no-cameras-allowed gathering with reporters at the Peabody Orlando Hotel that he hadn't done much thinking about next season, not with the Lions still drying off from their 19-17 victory over LSU in the Capital One Bowl the day before. Nor had he given much thought to the Lions' recruiting efforts.
I think Brackett's got a chance, Paterno said. And Drake was a big-time high school quarterback. And there are a couple of other [recruits] we'll take a look at.
Brackett played quarterback initially before moving to wide receiver. He was being looked at as a potential impact player this past fall but finished with only three catches for 13 yards. With Derek Moye, Graham Zug and Chaz Powell all returning and a number of highly regarded prospects waiting their turn, the Lions appear far deeper at wideout than at quarterback.
Paterno said he was disappointed he wasn't able to get Newsome more playing time this past season. The 6-foot-2 225-pounder from Portsmouth, Va., played in 10 games as a true freshman but attempted only 11 passes, completing eight for 66 yards. There were no plans to use him in the Capital One Bowl the way Clark was used to spell Anthony Morelli in the 2007 Alamo Bowl. Clark deserved to show people what he could do, Paterno said.
Penn State's new starter -- walk-on Matt McGloin is also in the mix -- won't get a chance to ease into the position. After opening at home against Youngstown State, the Nittany Lions will face Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
But if Paterno is thinking that far ahead, he's keeping his concerns to himself. Said the coach, Whether we'll be good at quarterback or not, your guess is as good as mine right now.
In other news
o Paterno said he has not offered any advice to juniors Navorro Bowman and Evan Royster about whether to leave early for the NFL. He said Royster had a strong family support system that would help him make the right choice, but he was more concerned about Bowman. He admitted he would like to have both of them back. But, he added, they've got to do what's right for them.
o Paterno said he made a smooth transition back into his familiar on-the-field role after coaching much of the 2008 season from the press box due to leg and hip problems. Physically it's been a tough year for me, but I feel great, he said.
o No changes are anticipated in Penn State's ever-stable coaching staff. Asked if he was expecting to keep his staff intact for another season, Paterno said, I hope I can. That means the calls for a dedicated special teams coach are likely to go unheeded. Paterno said the Lions' problems in 2009, which included a critical punt block that turned around the Iowa game, had to do with poor decisions and a lack of intensity on the field. It's a question of personnel, Paterno said. We probably made a mistake on a couple of kids.
o After seeing the dismal field conditions Friday, Paterno considered holding linebacker Sean Lee out of the bowl game because of his past knee problems. Lee ended up playing and was one of the defensive stars for the Nittany Lions, finishing with six tackles and a fumble recovery.