Cory Giger breaks down this week's game between Penn State and Coastal Carolina
OFFENSE -- ADVANTAGE: Penn State
Penn State: The Daryll Clark era begins Saturday -- as a starting QB anyway -- and so does the Stephfon Green era. The freshman running back should be exciting. Look for some examples of the new Spread HD offense, but it won't be unveiled entirely against this caliber of opponent.
Coastal Carolina: CC's projected starting QB, freshman Jamie Childers, is out with meningitis. The starter will be William Richardson, who started every game last year and is younger brother of former PSU QB Wally. If Chanticleers move ball past midfield more than a few times it will be surprising.
DEFENSE -- ADVANTAGE: Penn State
Penn State: Sean Lee's knee injury leaves the LB unit without a star for the first time in several years. The D-line also has some depth issues. None of that will matter today, though, as the Lions will rely on their sheer strength to overpower the Chanticleers.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers return several all-conference players, including LB D.J. Rice, S Marrio Norman and CB Whittmin Reese. The experienced secondary may give Daryll Clark some issues as the PSU QB gets his first chance to prove he can throw the ball.
SPECIAL TEAMS -- ADVANTAGE: Penn State
Penn State: PSU will have a lot of scoring chances, and look for Kevin Kelly to get several field goal opportunities in drives that stall deep in CC territory. Kelly needs to get off to a good start for confidence. Also expect at least one long punt return by Derrick Williams.
Coastal Carolina: Most of the key players on special teams were freshmen last season, and CC had a tough time. The youngsters are expected to be better this season. PK Justin Durham was 12-of-17 a year ago, but just 8-of-13 from beyond 30 yards.
INTANGIBLES -- ADVANTAGE: Penn State
Penn State: The Lions have every advantage in this category, but they also will have some players battling the jitters. Clark will be nervous as a first-time starter and Green in his first game. It won't take them long to settle down and rely on their athletic abilities.
Coastal Carolina: The largest crowd Coast Carolina has ever played in front of was 23,267 at Appy State in 2005, and most of their games draw only 7,000 or so. Will the Chanticleers be intimidated by the Beaver Stadium crowd of 105,000-plus ? No question.
COACHING -- ADVANTAGE: Penn State
Penn State: Joe Paterno can tie Bobby Bowden for most wins in Division I with his 373rd victory Saturday. Paterno is in the final year of his contract and may need a big season to silence critics, win over administrators and assure himself of returning in 2009.
Coastal Carolina: David Bennett took over the task of starting up a new football program in 2003 and has done a fine job at CC. He's gone 39-17 overall and 15-5 in league play, capturing three straight Big South titles from 2004-06 while going 28-6 in those years.
"This is the opening game of [the seniors'] last season, and we have to come out and set the tone early. If that's not motivation enough, you're at the wrong program. No matter who the opponent is, you have to go in there with that excitement and that motivation." -- PSU OT Gerald Cadogan
"You can't go in there wide-eyed. You have to go in there and focus You can't really prepare for it." -- CC OT Seth Smalls said of the Beaver Stadium atmosphere (in the Myrtle Beach News).
Penn State 52, Coastal Carolina 6: There is ZERO chance of an Appalachian State vs. Michigan repeat here. The Chanticleers just aren't very good.