Penn State to start Clark at QB in Saturday's opener

Updated: August 26, 2008, 8:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Daryll Clark will start at quarterback for Penn State when the 22nd-ranked Nittany Lions open the season Saturday.

Coach Joe Paterno said Clark's experience and good preseason gave him the edge over Pat Devlin. Paterno says Clark, Devlin and third-stringer Paul Cianciolo have each practiced well the past three weeks.

The 6-2, 231-pound Clark turned in an impressive performance in the Alamo Bowl, helping rally Penn State to a win against Texas A&M. His combination of size and speed seems to fit Penn State's new offense, the Spread HD, but Paterno doesn't discount Clark's ability as a passer, which will be key as the Lions return three senior wide receivers.

"He's a good all-around quarterback," Paterno said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "People think he's a runner. He's a good thrower. Smart kid, good leader."

Rittenberg: Experience Key

Daryll Clark's experience backing up Anthony Morelli helped him earn the starting quarterback job this season, ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg writes. Blog

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Paterno said he hopes to get Devlin some playing time, too, in the season opener versus Division I-AA Coastal Carolina.

Clark served as the primary backup the past two years to Anthony Morelli, who is out of eligibility.

"The system's got to fit the quarterback," Paterno said. "You've got a quarterback and we have three, and you can't put a system in for one quarterback because he could go down halfway through the first quarter or the first game, so you put in something they all can do without being a strain."

Clark appeared in eight games last season, completing 6 of 9 passes for 31 yards. Though Paterno said he named a starter to prevent Clark from looking over his shoulder, the junior doesn't appear to lack any confidence and has the demeanor to command respect right away.

"They're all bright as can be, but I had to make a pick and Clark right now is the best of the three," Paterno said. "But the other two guys will be pushing."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg was used in this report.