Commentary

Top 25 Intel: No. 9 Penn State

Nittany Lions' diversified offense still relies on a good ground game

Originally Published: June 23, 2009
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
With a new group of receivers and a young line, if the Penn State offense doesn't skip a beat, it'll be Daryll Clark's doing.

It figures that a member of the Penn State coaching staff would quote a Big Ten coaching legend to get a point across.

"It's one I know Woody Hayes would bring up: Being dependent on stats is like the guy who drowned in the river that had, on average, a depth of three feet," Jay Paterno, the longtime quarterbacks coach, said.

Along with offensive coordinator Galen Hall, Paterno has in recent years revamped the Nittany Lions' offense. Last year, it was the best unit in the Big Ten. But stats, he said, don't tell the whole story. So he is spending his summer examining not just what worked, but why.

"That's a key to the offseason for us," he said. "It's one of the biggest mistakes coaches make, where you say, 'Well, we know that play works,' or 'We know this play doesn't work.' Well, who was the guy running it? Was it just because we had a good matchup that it worked at all?"

An offensive staff that lost wide receivers Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood to the NFL is busy going over the passing game and formations of the likes of the Arizona Cardinals. In the eye of the younger (and older) Paterno, there are always new ways to do things, new systems to uncover and new possibilities for how you can tweak your own system: like a reverse pass that went for a touchdown last year against Illinois that the younger Paterno used shower steam to draw up.

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