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2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 37
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 9

“We are very young in key spots. We don’t have a quarterback who has played more than 20 plays…We have some very gifted skill people on both sides of the football. We have a very average offensive line. I am a little disappointed in our kicking game. We have a lot of work ahead of us.” That quote, from Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno, is not exactly a ringing endorsement of his team. You have to give JoePa credit though; he tells it like it is.

After an impressive 11 win season including a Capitol One Bowl win over LSU, Penn State may have a hard time repeating such success. Quarterback Daryll Clark is gone, after a very productive season in which he threw for over 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. There are several young quarterbacks trying to take over his spot, but sophomore Kevin Newsome appears to have the edge at this point. The quarterback will have some firepower around him with talented skill players all around.Penn State Nittany Lions College Football Cheerleaders

Running back Evan Royster rushed for 1,195 yards last season and should be the focal point of the offense once again. He will be joined by Stephfon Green, a speedy runner who can break a long run every time he touches the ball. Starting receivers Derek Moye and Graham Zug also return, after each had a very good 2009 campaign.

The defense will have a tough time maintaining its level of play from 2009 when they allowed less than 12 points per game. Big Ten defensive player of the year Jared Odrick has moved on, along with all three starting linebackers (the team’s three leading tacklers). Penn State is known as “Linebacker U”, so it is likely they will be able to find replacements at all three linebacker spots. Odrick’s backup last season, junior Devon Still, played well in limited time last year and should be ready for a starting role. Three of the four secondary members return to provide some defensive continuity.

When all is said and done, it looks like Penn State will again be in a bowl game. However, Ohio State and Iowa will likely be too strong for the Nittany Lions to challenge for a Big Ten title in what could be Paterno’s final season on the sidelines.

Penn State’s odds to win the Big Ten: +650

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