JOHNSTOWN - Penn State coach Joe Paterno does not like the two-quarterback system but assured he will keep ''an open mind'' about the possibility this fall.
''I've never been a two-quarterback guy,'' Paterno said Thursday at a fund-raiser benefiting Bishop McCort High School.
''I would hope it's one guy,'' the coach added, ''but I think that there's going to have to be a couple guys ready to play.''
Mirror file photo by Gary M. Baranec
Daryll Clark (left) and Pat Devlin were side by side before the Blue-White Game and may be just as close in vying for playing time as Penn State quarterback.
Paterno pointed out all three quarterback candidates - yes, three - will compete for the starting job when preseason camp opens next month.
Continuing a trend any time he's asked about Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin, Paterno went out of his way to mention fifth-year senior Paul Cianciolo as a viable candidate.
''You say battle; that doesn't particularly light me up,'' Paterno said of the quarterback vacancy. ''I think we've got some competition. ... We're just going to let them all compete and see what happens.
''I have no preconceived idea who's going to be the guy.''
Clark is widely assumed to be the frontrunner given he was the backup to Anthony Morelli the past two years. Clark saw extensive action and was key in the Alamo Bowl victory over Texas A&M, while Devlin barely got on the field last year.
There's a possibility both Clark and Devlin will play a lot - if Paterno decides the two-quarterback system will work.
The coach shed some insight on how the competition will play out in camp.
''They'll all get an equal shot,'' Paterno said. ''I'll try to make sure that all of them get with the good kids, and it will evolve so that we don't have Clark with the best offensive line all the time and the best wideouts so that Devlin doesn't get a shot to have that kind of group around him. And the same thing with Paul.''
Paterno has employed a two-quarterback system before - last in the late 1990s with Rashard Casey and Kevin Thompson - and he was tempted to do so last year. His son, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, lobbied to use Clark more often, but JoePa declined.
He now admits ''last year probably I made a mistake.''
''I probably could have done a better job,'' Paterno said. ''I know Jay was pushing me all the time to get Clark involved as a change of pace, and every once in a while you get stubborn.''
Paterno said he didn't go the two-quarterback route ''because I thought Morelli was getting so much flak, I didn't want him to think we had lost any confidence in him.''
Paterno will be enshrined in the College Hall of Fame on Saturday in South Bend, Ind., then he and his assistants will begin preseason staff meetings Monday.
Paterno knows he can't let things go too long in camp without picking a starting quarterback, sounding as if the decision will be made well before the season opener Aug. 30 against Coastal Carolina.
''I think the team has got to know someplace down the line who's going to be their quarterback,'' Paterno said.
Deciding the new signal caller won't be the only thing on the agenda for the offensive coaches. Paterno and his staff also will be implementing the new Spread HD offense and figuring out how much it will be used.
That will depend on several factors not related to just the offensive personnel.
''If ... we can afford to be a wide-open football team because we can make some mistakes on offense because our defense is going to be that strong and our kicking game is going to be that good, OK, that's one way to go,'' Paterno said.
''If we have some kids get hurt on the defense and so forth like that and we have to take more chances offensively, then we have to do that. I think you've got to be flexible. You've got to be ready to adjust.''
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and email@example.com.