Starting quarterback is only worry for Paterno Penn State takes on E. Michigan today

September 19, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

If coach Joe Paterno's most pressing decision today is who starts at quarterback for Penn State against Eastern Michigan, the Nittany Lions could be in for another lark.

A week after they routed Temple, 49-8, with freshman Wally Richardson at quarterback, the eighth-ranked Lions (2-0) face Eastern Michigan (0-2) of the Mid-American Conference at 1 p.m. in University Park, Pa.

Richardson last week became the second true freshman -- Tony Sacca was the first in 1988 -- to start at quarterback in Paterno's 27 years as coach at Penn State. He completed 10 of 19 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown, and ran for another.

Richardson also quarterbacked the Lions to a 24-20, season-opening victory at Cincinnati after starter John Sacca (Tony's younger brother) suffered a badly bruised right shoulder in the first half. Sacca is healthy enough to play this week, but Paterno said a decision on who starts may not be made until game time.

Kerry Collins, who was the starting quarterback coming into the season until he suffered a broken right index finger playing volleyball at a family picnic, still hasn't begun to throw.

Paterno has expanded the Lions' offensive package this week.

"We added a couple of things because John Sacca can handle those and we think Wally can right now," he said. "Both are getting an equal amount of reps."

Who will start?

"I need to sleep on it, I really do," Paterno said.

It may not matter who starts, because the Nittany Lions have a ground game to fall back on. Penn State rushed for 387 yards against Temple and 243 against Cincinnati.

Overconfidence may be Paterno's biggest worry. The Eagles lost 27-9 to Akron in Ypsilanti, Mich., and 31-17 last week at Louisiana Tech. Paterno is 6-0 against Mid-American teams.

"We think they're a good team," Paterno said, "but I'm not going to tell you we don't have better athletes in several places than they do. They're a good, solid football team. We have to know what we're doing, and do it with a lot of intensity."

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