By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Football Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: Led by senior quarterback Darryll Clark, the Penn State Nittany Lions put together a late-game drive in muddy conditions to knock off LSU in the Capital One Bowl, 19-17. The win gave longtime coach Joe Paterno
his record 24th bowl victory, four of which have come in the last five years
as he continues to prove that he can keep Penn State at the top of the college
football heirarchy. It also marked the Nittany Lions' second consecutive 11-
win season, as they finished ranked No. 8 in the final poll.
They began the year by winning eight of their first nine games, with the lone
loss coming at Iowa (21-10) during the fourth week of the season. Loss No. 2
came at 16th-ranked Ohio State (24-7) on November 7th, but PSU responded with
triumphs over Indiana and Michigan State to earn a date with LSU in the
Capital One Bowl.
OFFENSE: The most notable position to fill is at quarterback, following the
departure of two-time All-Big Ten signal-caller Daryll Clark, the school's
all-time leader in touchdown passes. The competition is between sophomores
Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin, and freshman Paul Jones. Newsome and McGloin
split the first-team reps in the spring with neither player separating
himself, while the athletic Jones and fellow freshman Robert Bolden will try
to become the first true freshman to start at quarterback at Penn State since
In the backfield, Evan Royster is back for his senior year after posting back-
to-back 1,100-yard seasons. He'll be complemented by speedster Stephfon Green,
who has averaged 5.1 ypc in his first two seasons. Top receivers Derek Moye
(48 rec, 785 yds, six TDs) and Graham Zug (46 rec, 600 yds, seven TDs) are
back, while Chaz Powell moved from wideout to corner in the spring.
While there is some experience returning to the offensive line, there is also
quite a bit of position shuffling. Senior guard Stefen Wisniewski, a First
Team preseason All-America selection, is the anchor. Wisniewski started all 13
games at center in 2009 and went on to earn First Team All-Big Ten and Third
Team All-America honors. In the Spring he switched back to guard, where he
started 12 games in '08 and helped PSU to a Big Ten title and a berth in the
Rose Bowl. Senior Lou Eliades has moved from right guard to right tackle,
while Quinn Barham goes from guard to left tackle. Junior Johnnie Troutman
figures to be back at left guard after starting eight games there last season.
DEFENSE: 'Linebacker U.' took a hit with the all three of last year's starting
linebackers now in the NFL. While that certainly presents some question marks
entering the season, Penn State hasn't earned its nickname by accident. Expect
newcomeers Khairi Fortt and Dakota Royer to make an immediate impact. Senior
Bani Gbadyu (6-1, 231) and junior Nathan Stupar (6-1, 236) each have
experience and could be the starters on the outside. Sophomore Michael Mauti
(6-2, 231) has returned from an ACL injury to battle senior Chris Colasanti
(6-2, 238) in the middle.
Starting safeties Nick Sukay (6-1, 213) and Drew Astorino (5-10, 194) are
back, as are cornerbacks D'Anton Lynn (6-1, 198) and Stephon Morris (5-8, 182)
to fill out what should be a strong secondary. Powell will also work toward a
role after converting to corner from the other side of the ball.
On the defensive line, the biggest hole to fill is the one left by departed
defensive tackle Jared Odrick, last year's Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Year. That job is passed on to redshirt junior Devon Still (6-5, 294), who
will pair with three-year starter Ollie Ogbu (6-1, 285) at defensive tackle.
At defensive end, junior Eric Latimore (6-6, 270) returns after starting six
games in '09, as does junior Jack Crawford (6-5, 256), who started every game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Both coverage units are in need of major improvements after
being exposed frequently a year ago. Chaz Powell and Devon Smith figure to
handle the kick return duties, while sophomore receiver Justin Brown and
Graham Zug will get a look at punt returner. The last we saw of kicker Collin
Wagner, he was kicking the game-winning field goal with less than a minute to
play in the Capital One Bowl, his fourth of the day. While he is reliable on
short-to-mid-range kicks, Wagner only connected on one attempt outside of 40
yards. Punter could be a major question mark, as the only punters in spring
practice were a receiver and a transfer from Temple.
OUTLOOK: Legendary coach Joe Paterno enters his 45th season as the head
football coach in Happy Valley, and the NCAA's all-time winningest coach needs
six wins to reach 400 for his career, a total that may never be matched.
However, the always charming Paterno downplayed the significance of the
milestone during Big Ten Media Day.
"You know, when I'm down and looking up, are they going to put 399 on top of
me or are they going to put 401?" Paterno pondered. "Who the hell cares? I
In any case, six wins is by no means a guarantee for a squad that is light on
senior leadership. Penn State is also facing a daunting road schedule, which
kicks right into gear with a trip to Alabama in the second week of the season.
The Nittany Lions will also play at Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State. Still,
under Paterno's watch, PSU has won 80 percent of its games over the last five
years (tied for the nation's No. 7 winning percentage over that span), and
that includes a pair of Big Ten titles.