Three games into the 2008 college football season, the Penn State Nittany Lions appear to be clicking on all cylinders. A dominant offensive line, solid wide receivers, explosive running game, and strong defense make Penn State appear to be early favorites to compete for the Big Ten Championship.
While these are all team strengths, it is really the quarterback position that has fans thinking there will be a repeat of the 2005 championship run.
Quarterback Darryl Clark has drawn numerous comparisons to former Nittany Lion quarterback Michael Robinson. His poise in the huddle, superb ability to scramble out of the pocket, and great open-field quickness all characteristics eerily similar to the former Penn State signal caller. These similarities have fans raving.
What fans have overlooked, however, is his unproven passing ability. Though he stifled opposing defenses both through the air and on the ground in the first two games of the season, his poor passing against the Syracuse Orangemen yields cause for concern. Completing 10 of 21 passes for just 163 yards, Clark’s stat line appears eerily similar to several of Robinson’s.
Despite his incomparable leadership skills and elusiveness in the open field, Robinson was a subpar passer in 2005. Truth be told, it was the stacked defensive unit led by guys like Paul Posluzny, Dan Connor, Sean Lee, Tamba Hali, and Alan Zemeitis that carried the Nittany Lions to an Orange Bowl victory.
That defense no longer exists in Happy Valley. Penn State will need a true force at the quarterback position to receive another BCS berth. This team has that caliber quarterback, however he is currently holding the clipboard looking on from the sidelines. His name is Pat Devlin.
Pat Devlin is the quarterback who can lead Penn State to the promised land. A top five quarterback coming out of high school, he beat out players like Joe Namath and Dan Marino to set the all time Pennsylvania passing record.
Unlike Clark, he adds an exceptional pocket presence and accuracy while still being able to elude the pass rush. He might not resemble the Orange Bowl-winning Michael Robinson, because he is better than any quarterback Happy Valley has seen in a long time.
It would be foolish to leave such a great talent on the bench for two years letting him waste away his career. Paterno did the same thing with quarterback Anthony Morelli, and he was never able to live up to expectations.
He needs to put Pat Devlin into the game. Employing a two quarterback system like the Florida Gators of just a few years ago, could let Joe Pa retire into the sunset with the National Championship trophy in hand.