SAN ANTONIO, Texas - It may have taken awhile, but
In Penn State's 24-17 win over Texas A&M in Saturday's Alamo Bowl, Clark, the backup quarterback to Morelli, added a wrinkle to the Nittany Lions' attack and showed that he may have the inside track on the starting position for next season.
Clark, though, said he was gunning for first team before this season, even with the incumbent returning.
"I told Anthony at the beginning of preseason camp that 'I'm coming after you,' " Clark said Saturday. " 'I told you not to be comfortable.' "
Clark was rarely used during the regular season because, as coach
said, the Lions didn't want to disrupt the oft-criticized Morelli. Clark, though, was used several times in the regular-season finale against Michigan State, but with negative results.
Still, it was decided during the week that Clark would be used more often against the Aggies.
"I knew all week," Clark said. "At the beginning of bowl practice, we were just toying around with some of the plays to see how they panned out."
The Clark formation had the junior in the shotgun with Morelli split wide. When Clark ran, he was very effective, totaling 50 yards on six carries. His 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter tied the score, 14-14.
He did not throw, however, as there are still questions concerning his arm strength. Clark insists the trigger is there.
"You weren't able to see it today," Clark said. "But wait until spring ball."
By the time spring rolls around, the decision on who will start under center should become clearer. Clark, who is expected to get a redshirt season should he complete his spring semester credits, will most likely battle redshirt freshman
for the spot.
Paterno, while not ruling out a two-quarterback system, said the job was up for grabs.
"I like Clark. He wants to be good. He works hard," Paterno said. "But he's going to have some competition."
The Lions are still chasing the nation's top high school recruit,
of Jeannette, Pa. But there are increasing signs that the quarterback phenom will sign with Michigan, leaving Devlin, of Downingtown, as Clark's chief rival.
"I wouldn't count Devlin out," Paterno said.
According to several Penn State players, there was extra incentive in Saturday's win.
At a Thursday night pep rally, a Texas A&M male yell leader said Paterno was on his "deathbed" and in need of a "coffin." And then at a couple of functions involving both teams, some comments made by the Aggies didn't sit too well with the Lions.
"They've been running their mouths all week," center
said. "All I can say is they put a little too much time into their talent show."
Paterno dismissed the pep rally incident, but some of his players did not.
"That was very disrespectful and added fuel to the fire," Clark said. "We were very upset about that."
Paterno said that academics were part of the reason for leaving reserve defensive tackle
at home. The Feasterville resident is a redshirt freshman. "It's a combination of things," Paterno said. "He's a little disillusioned. We'll work that out when I get back." . . . Paterno said yesterday that wide receiver
were battling the flu leading up to the game. Butler had the game's best catch, a diving, 30-yard touchdown reception. Ohrnberger was part of an offensive line that fronted a running attack that produced a season-high 270 yards.
- Jeff McLane