Penn State Notebook: Penn State utilizing popular formation

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The "Wildcat" formation has been spreading like wildfire in college football.

The version Penn State used against Iowa last weekend had quarterback Daryll Clark lining up in the slot and wide receiver Derrick Williams taking the direct snap from the shotgun.

Coach Joe Paterno said the Nittany Lions used the alignment to help protect Clark from unnecessary hits. He still was trying to shake off mild-concussion symptoms from two weeks earlier against Ohio State.

Williams handled seven snaps from center A.Q. Shipley. He carried the ball six times for 29 yards and scored on a 9-yard run in the third quarter. Williams also completed a 23-yard pass to tight end Mickey Shuler in the fourth quarter.

"It was something that we had in our playbook for a while," Williams said. "We just didn't run it. Hopefully, we can still run it. I want to help the team any way I can."

Clark carried just five times against the Hawkeyes for 6 yards -- all in the first half.

Paterno said the "Wildcat" also was in the game plan in case backup quarterback Pat Devlin, who is not known for his running skills, had to replace Clark.

"So much of the stuff we have in, they're made for people who can run," Paterno said. "I wouldn't put Devlin in a situation where if Clark went down, we'd put him in and we had to run him."

Paterno said he expects Clark to be able to run more against Indiana tomorrow at Beaver Stadium.

But Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch, whose team has dropped seven of its past eight games, said he wouldn't be surprised to see Williams line up at quarterback again on occasion.

"We have so much respect for Williams and what he can do, we've got to be alert wherever he is on the field," Lynch said.

No perfect ending

Paterno, who is wrapping up his 43rd year, was denied a shot at his sixth perfect season with the 24-23 loss to Iowa.

He coached four unbeaten teams from 1966-86, but has had just one since, in '94.

Paterno said it's getting much harder for teams to run the table.

"I think it is because there's more good kids around, there's more parity, and there's more exposure," he said. "Kids get to see people play, and they're watching television all the time now.

"So I think they get more familiar with the kids who are going to play, so I think it is a little tougher."

Quarterback shuffle

In last week's 55-20 home loss to Wisconsin, injury-riddled Indiana was forced to use three different quarterbacks.

Redshirt sophomore Ben Chappell started and was knocked out of the game late in the first half with a head injury. Redshirt junior Kellen Lewis, already with high ankle sprain, replaced him, but was ineffective. Sophomore Mitchell Evans, a wide receiver and former high school quarterback, was forced to take over.

Lynch said he expects Chappell to be ready to play against Penn State, while Lewis is questionable.

"We need to make sure we do the smart thing with them and also what gives us the best opportunity against a really good Penn State defense," Lynch said.

A year ago, Lewis was one of only three quarterbacks in the country to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 700. He also accounted for 37 touchdowns, including 28 passing.

Maybin named to list

Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin has been named one of 15 players to watch by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Maybin, a redshirt sophomore, leads the Big Ten in sacks with 11 and is second in tackles for losses with 16 1/2.

The player of the year list will be paired to five finalists Dec. 2.

The winner will be announced Dec. 11 during the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter.


Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@post-gazette.com .


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