UNIVERSITY PARK - It has a cool name and all the personnel ingredients to make it work, but the particulars of Penn State's new Spread HD offense remain a mystery.
Even the players don't know exactly what they'll be doing in the new formation. They do know a couple of key elements, however.
''The No. 1 thing with the spread offense is speed, speed and more speed,'' running back Stephfon Green said.
''It will just maximize the use of our athletes that we have,'' said quarterback Pat Devlin, who's battling Daryll Clark for the starting job.
Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno first mentioned the Spread HD in January and joked about the name.
''It could stand for 'high definition' or 'highly diverse,''' JayPa said then. ''As long as it doesn't stand for 'huge dud.'''
The Nittany Lions worked on the new offense during spring drills, but fans hoping to see a glimpse of it were disappointed at the Blue-White Game. The attack may not even be fully unveiled in the season opener against Coastal Carolina since the coaching staff likely won't tip its hand against a lowly opponent.
Whenever it debuts, what can fans expect to see?
''It's a run offense,'' Jay Paterno said. ''It's really a glorified wishbone offense.''
It is not, he added, a pass-heavy attack.
''That's the biggest misconception about the spread offense is that it's this wide open, throw it all over the place [offense],'' Paterno said.
The Lions are able to try out the new offense thanks to the mobility and versatility of their two quarterbacks. Clark has proven his running skills in limited action the past two seasons, and Devlin is said to be good outside of the pocket, as well.
Both quarterbacks will be a major upgrade in terms of mobility over the starter the past two years, Anthony Morelli, so the offense will have more similarities to that run by Michael Robinson in 2005.
''With the talent that me and Pat may bring with being able to run the ball,'' Clark said, ''we're going to have some options and a couple of wrinkles with the wideouts being in the backfield and things like that.''
The Spread HD will have some distinct differences from Robinson's 2005 offense because of the personnel involved.
The tailbacks, Green and Evan Royster, are faster than 2005 starter Tony Hunt, and the lightning-fast Green provides a home-run threat every time he touches the ball.
Also, the receiving trio of Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood all played on that 2005 squad, but they were just freshmen then and are now seniors.
''It helps immensely because we can move them around and do things because they all know the other positions,'' Paterno said. ''You're not going to necessarily know where Deon Butler is every time. You're not going to necessarily know where Derrick is or Jordan is or any of those guys. We're going to be able to move them around and put them in different places.''
Perhaps just as big, where a player lines up may not give away the play. Williams has lined up in the backfield numerous times the past two years, but he got the ball virtually every time so defenses were prepared for it.
Put Williams in the same backfield as Clark, Green and the patient runner Royster, and defenses will be left guessing. Clark could run the option and keep it himself - something Morelli couldn't do - or pitch the ball to any number of runners.
''It's not an obvious thing,'' Williams said. ''Where if Derrick's in the backfield it might be giving him the ball, or it might be doing something else. You can run different things off of it.''
Clark added: ''With Stephfon and Royster being back there, Derrick being back there, reverse here, reverse there, reverse pass here, a lot of quick passes and putting the wideouts in position to make plays, make yards after the catch.''
The new offense also allows for more four-receiver sets and possibly putting Royster in the slot with Green in the backfield.
''It's just a chance to change up the way that other teams have to look at us,'' Royster said.
Clark's passing ability is a bit of a question mark, basically because he's never had many opportunities to throw in a game. He did fire some quality throws in the Blue-White Game, though, and his or Devlin's arm - perhaps both - will be key in the Spread HD.
Jay Paterno pointed out it's tough for teams that utilize a spread offense to come from behind because they run so much. The Lions traditionally have had a balanced attack, and that isn't expected to change.
''We really want to get into where we have that running game, but we want to be able to throw the ball so we can win games in the fourth quarter,'' Paterno said.
He went on to add it will be ''very similar to what we did with [Robinson in 2005]. Mike won a lot of games in the fourth quarter.''
''We're going to make more of, when Daryll's in there, more of his legs,'' Butler said. ''Obviously he's still going to throw passes because teams are going to make him prove that he can pass. We know he can, but he's going to have to prove it.''
The Lions installed ''a bunch'' of plays for the new offense during the spring, Devlin said, and more will be added when camp starts. That's when the players will have more of an idea just how different the offense will be this season.
''There's a lot of different ways we can line up,'' Butler said.
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.