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Memo to PSU: pass the ball


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Mike Jenkens

By Mike Jenkens
Arizona Daily Wildcat, August 26, 1999

When a coach has been at a school as long as Joe Paterno has at Penn State, his coaching philosophy is very hard to change. Good ol' JoePa likes to run the football. Well, here is a little word of advice. If you run against the `Swarm,' you will lose, and all hopes of a national championship will go down the drain after one embarrassing defeat.

In the 70's with 1,000-yard rusher and Heisman Trophy candidate Lydell Mitchell, in the 80's with fantastic college running backs Curt Warner, D.J. Dozier and Blair Thomas, and in the 90's with standout running backs Ki Jana Carter and Curtis Enis, Penn State is built on the tradition of running the football. Their running back this year, is a man by the name of Eric McCoo. Eric who?

Penn State's quarterback Kevin Thompson runs better than he throws. He only threw for 1,691 yards last year, with a 53.5 completion percentage and more interceptions than touchdowns.

Butkus Award candidate, Marcus Bell looms in the middle waiting to gobble up the opposing team's ball carrier and if you try to run outside, DaShon Polk and Scooter Sprotte are waiting to decapitate you. Unlike many other defenses across the nation, Arizona's is built on speed and technique. These three linebackers display these attributes more so than anyone else on the squad.

To get to the linebackers though, you have to penetrate the Arizona defensive line which boasts run stoppers Keoni Fraser and Anthony Thomas. With Thomas' availability in question due to an ankle injury, senior J.J. Joppru would get an opportunity to step in and take his place. With book-end defensive ends Joe Tafoya and Mike Robertson solidifying the rest of the line, it will be tough for Penn State to bolster any kind of a running game.

This all spells doom for the Mighty Nittany Lions, the No. 1 team according to Sports Illustrated, which better find a way to pass against the Arizona defense if it has any hopes of winning. With nine starters returning on defense including all three linebackers, Penn State better find a way to move the ball down field with a surprise air attack, or face the fact that they will be 0-1 after Arizona steam rolls them.

Final Score: Arizona 24, Penn State 14

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