Daryll Clark has had no trouble using his arms and legs to beat defenses over the first six weeks of 2008. With what people have considered to be a “cupcake schedule” up until this point for Penn State, with only one tough game against Illinois, this weekend’s game promises to be a true test for the Nittany Lions' quarterback.
Emulating the Michael Robinson-type style that Penn State ran in 2005, Clark has surprised many Lions fans who pleaded for Joe Paterno to start the highly-touted Pat Devlin, one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation only two years ago.
Wisconsin has showed two different types of defense against the run this year, giving a hard read to how a dual-threat quarterback such as Clark will fare this Saturday.
Against Michigan, the Badgers' defensive line had trouble stopping Wolverines quarterback Steven Threet, who racked up 89 yards on the ground. Just one week later, Wisconsin managed to hold the nation’s No. 1 recruit Terrelle Pryor to only 20 yards on the ground.
The Badgers are fourth in the Big Ten in total defense at 309.8 yards per game and are allowing only 17.6 points per game, holding four opponents to 20 points or less. On the other hand, the Lions lead the conference and are No. 8 nationally in rushing at 256.6 yards per game. Penn State's 21 rushing touchdowns are the second highest in the nation, trailing only the 22 scored by Oregon.
While the Badgers have a defensive-line filled with oversized starters and better-than-average run-stoppers, Clark should be able to penetrate Wisconsin’s defense and earn some positive yardage with one of the nation’s top offensive lines in front of him.
With the dual-threat tailbacks behind Clark, and the athleticism that a weapon like Derrick Williams possesses, Clark has the advantage of drawing a defense the wrong way while running the option.
While running the “HD Spread” that the Lions have been known for this season, Clark has the ability to use his arm to beat defenses as well. He has shown a surprisingly excellent pocket presence and has thrown nine touchdowns, while only throwing for one interception. Clark has also run the ball into the end zone four times.
With Clark’s size and athleticism, mixed with the momentum on Penn State’s side, Clark should have enough confidence in himself and his offensive line to put up big numbers against a solid defense such as Wisconsin’s.
In the Lions' first true road test of the season, and going in undefeated, anything can happen. Clark and his offense will need to win the turnover battle to win this game.
If Clark can continue to put up his excellent numbers, and Penn State’s dominant defensive line can stop PJ Hill, Penn State should surprise a lot of people this weekend and win this game by two scores.
This team has enough experience and maturity to not look forward to Michigan and Ohio State in the following weeks, and should take care of business on Saturday night in front of a national audience.