Published: Saturday, November 11, 2006
Penn St. seeks more offensive punch vs. Temple
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Joe Paterno won't be around at Beaver Stadium, though Penn State wideout Deon Butler knows exactly what his injured coach wants to accomplish against Temple.
The top priority is a win. Scoring more points would be nice, too.
"Though he's injured, he's still going to get his point across, some way, somehow," Butler said.
Paterno has begrudgingly decided to skip today's game against Temple the first contest he will have missed since 1977 to concentrate on recovering from a nasty collision last week against Wisconsin, when two players bowled him over on the sideline. He had surgery earlier this week to repair a fractured shinbone and two torn knee ligaments in his left leg, and doctors want him to cut back for now.
That means defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and offensive coordinator Galen Hall will have to do their best to channel JoePa's wishes while the coach is out. Wins over Temple and Michigan State next week could help Penn State (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) lock up a New Year's Day bowl bid.
"I don't think it will be difficult," Hall said about coaching without Paterno pacing the field in his rolled-up khakis. "Joe is very much involved in everything we do. We go out and coach the same we have, whether Joe is on the field or not."
Inconsistent offensive line
With or without Paterno, the Nittany Lion offense has been tough to watch lately, having scored just 36 points over the last four games though two of the opponents in that stretch were defensive stalwarts Michigan and Wisconsin. The offensive line has been inconsistent, and now will likely be without starting right tackle John Shaw (knee) for the rest of the regular season.
Fortunately, Paul Posluszny and the linebacker-led defense have stepped up, giving up just one touchdown over the last three games.
On offense, Penn State's receivers did a better job last week of holding onto passes, though penalties and other mistakes continue to hold back Penn State in the red zone.
"We have taken our shots downfield," Hall said. "We have done what we think is best for us to move the football and perform and it just hasn't worked out. We stopped ourselves."
Still, nothing cures a troubled offense like the Owls.
Temple (1-9) scored 26 points last week against Central Michigan, but the Owls have been awful against higher-level opponents, suffering back-to-back 62-0 shutouts to Louisville and Minnesota earlier this year, along with a 63-9 pasting by Clemson.
Speaking with his assistants Thursday in his hospital room, Paterno gave the team a simple directive: get a victory.
"He's in the back of our heads, but we're focused on the game ahead," safety Anthony Scirrotto said. "That's what he wants us to do. He doesn't want us to worry about him."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.