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August 26, 2008

Paterno names his starter

It's official.

Daryll Clark, Penn State's redshirt junior quarterback, will be the starter for the Nittany Lions' home opener against Coastal Carolina on Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Joe Paterno announced at his press conference in the Beaver Stadium media room this afternoon that Clark would indeed get the start on Saturday.

Of course, he did so in typical Paterno fashion.

When asked who would start on Saturday, Paterno responded by asking if the question was about the whole team or any one position in particular, all with a sly smile on his face.

"I wondered when that question was going to come up," Paterno jested. "No, we're going to start Clark and probably play Devlin for sure, some. And, the other kid that I really think that we gotta give him a shot sometime in there is Cianciolo.

"All three kids have practiced really well and all three can get the job done. Clark's had a little bit more experience, he's had a good spring practice and had a really good preseason, so we're going to go with Clark, start him. But, I don't want him looking over his shoulder. I just want him to go in there and play.

"He's going to go in and play, take over the team, and we'll go from there."

While Paterno made it clear that redshirt sophomore quarterback Pat Devlin would indeed see some playing time, he also made it clear that he doesn't want Clark to have to worry about looking over his shoulder.

Paterno's statements effectively meant that the Lions are not looking to use a two-quarterback system this season. Rather, while the rest of the season is still very much up in the air for what will happen with the quarterbacks, for the time being, this is Clark's team.

"I still don't want to go into the season with the idea that you have a two quarterback or a three quarterback system," Paterno said. "I think Clark oughtta go in there and have a little fun playing. He's worked hard to get it and hopefully we're going to be able to give Devlin a chance to go in there and show what he can do."

Paterno said that yesterday afternoon, he sat down with quarterbacks' coach Jay Paterno and the three quarterbacks to tell them the news.

As something that Paterno explained was an already expected decision, Clark cracked a smile at the news while both Devlin and Cianciolo said they were fine with the decision. Upon that news, the meeting was over and Paterno said all handled it well.

Continuing about why Clark was chosen to be the starter for the home-opener, Paterno said that the decision was only natural. As the No. 2 quarterback last season behind Anthony Morelli, it only made sense that he should be the guy to progress into the No. 1 quarterback spot for this season following Morelli's departure to the NFL.

"I think being on the team last year helped him. Obviously, with the amount of reps he got in practice, his having to prepare to play with... one down and he was the quarterback," Paterno said. "And there were some things that we knew he could do... in fact during the year, I've said this a couple of times... during the year, Jay Paterno came to me and said, maybe we oughtta stick Clark in there to change the pace and what have you and again, I'm repeating myself but I always felt that Morelli got more criticism than he deserved and that I wasn't going to pile it on by sticking Clark in there and saying even the coach doesn't like him.

"Clark was our second quarterback last year. Devlin got one or two snaps. But, it's working out. I don't think you have to be a genius to figure out that Clark was the guy that should have developed into being the guy that would be No. 1 and I think it's to Devlin and Cianciolo's credits that they have really fought him."

In addition, Paterno stated that he would look to get fifth-year senior Paul Cianciolo some time in Saturday's game although it was less certain if that would be a possibility.

Of course, even with naming Clark as the starter this season and maintaining that Clark would not need to look over his shoulder, Paterno was non-commital when it came to questions about how things would work for the rest of the season.

When asked if this was a decision to be made for the foreseeable future or if it was one that would be made on a week-by-week basis, Paterno said he'd have to see.

"Well, we haven't played a game yet," he said. "I wish I were that clairvoyant that I could tell you exactly what's going to happen.

"Clark is going to start Saturday and I told him and I'll tell him again before he goes on the field and when we meet on Friday, 'Hey, just go in there and enjoy it. It's your club right now. Go get 'em.'

"But also, at the same time encourage the other two kids by saying, 'Hey, as soon as I get a chance to get you in there or the opportunity comes up, you've gotta be ready.'

"Now, what's going to happen for the rest of the year? I don't know."



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