Penn State Football 2008 Preview Part 1: Can Clark Lead The Lions to The BCS?

Aaron YorkeCorrespondent IMay 15, 2008

    After a respectable but disappointing 2007 campaign, the Nittany Lions are looking to make a run at the Big Ten championship in 2008.  Here’s a look at three key offensive players who must perform well for PennState to have a shot at the title.


Daryll Clark, QB, #17

    After backing up Anthony Morelli for the past two seasons, senior QB Daryll Clark is ready to take on the challenge of leading the Nittany Lions offense.  Clark appeared briefly in a 2006 loss to Michigan after Morelli went down with an injury, but played a much bigger role in the 2007 Alamo Bowl, when he rushed for 50 yards on just 6 carries.  This year, Clark is expected to beat out sophomore Pat Devlin for the starting job.  If he does, the PSU offense will feature a quarterback who likes to run the ball, which last happened in 2005, when Michael Robinson led the Lions to a BCS bowl birth.  If Clark can throw the ball as effectively as he carries it, a return to the BCS could be a possibility.


A.Q. Shipley, C, #57

    A.Q. Shipley is the center of a PSU O-line that is returning all 5 starters from last year.  Shipley started out his career as a defensive lineman, but has slowly evolved into one of the better centers in the Big Ten.  With the efforts of Shipley and left tackle Gerald Cadogen, PSU’s offensive line looks to be among the best units in the Big Ten, which is important, considering the Lions will be starting inexperienced players at QB and RB.


Derrick Williams, WR, #2

    It was a big deal when Penn State recruited Derrick Williams prior to the 2005 season.  After 2 straight bowl-less seasons, the signings of Williams and cornerback Justin King sparked a renaissance of sorts, as the Lions have won bowl games in their past 3 seasons.  However, the performance of Williams has been spotty.  In his freshman year, Williams scored key touchdowns in close games against Northwestern and Ohio State, but then broke his arm against Michigan and sat out the rest of the year.  For the past two seasons combined, Williams has caught 95 passes for 969 yards, which is pretty good, but he hasn’t been the elite receiver Penn State fans thought they were getting.  In 2008, Williams must step up his game in order to help out the new quarterback while continuing to be a reliable kick returner.  If not, the Lions can always fall back on fellow WR vets Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.


    Since I came to PennState as an undergrad in 2004, the ’05 squad was the only one to have a really good offense.  This year, the team will feature three veteran wide receivers as well as a great offensive line.  The only question mark is Daryll Clark.  His performance will decide if the Lions can go farther than the mediocre 2006 and 2007 teams.