UNIVERSITY PARK - Round 1 of the Penn State quarterback derby didn't produce a status change, but it did reinforce that the position appears to be in good hands.
Nittany Lion quarterbacks dropped back 26 times and completed 19, not including two that could or should have been caught, for 260 yards and a touchdown.
None of the three was either intercepted or sacked by a Coastal Carolina team that typically plays in front of crowds of 100,000 fewer than the 106,577 that turned out Saturday at Beaver Stadium to see Penn State open with a 66-10 victory.
The rest of the schedule is expected to provide more resistance, but Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin will take confidence into it.
Clark engineered touchdown drives on four of the five series he handled, completed 11 of 14 for 146 yards and turned a 28-7 lead over to Devlin midway through the second quarter.
The game plan for Clark came with a mandate: Don't run.
''The first thing he has to be is a passing quarterback,'' Joe Paterno said. ''We know he can run with it.''
Clark effectively and accurately spread the ball to his playmakers, hitting shorter routes to the likes of Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.
''I didn't have to run,'' Clark said. ''Everybody was so open.''
Williams kidded Clark throughout the week that the QB was going to be a bundle of nerves.
''He kept telling me I was going to throw up,'' Clark said, laughing. ''I was [nervous], but after the first hit and the first throw, I was fine.''
Indeed, although Clark admitted the bus ride to the stadium was like a dream.
''I kept saying, ''I can't believe this is happening,''' he said.
Clark played one series in the third quarter and wasn't quite as sharp as he was early before Devlin came back and Paul Cianciolo ably mopped up the fourth quarter.
Devlin balanced emotions and uncertainty through the week. After being told Monday of the decision to start Clark, Devlin, who has three years of eligibility remaining to Clark's two, admitted the word ''transfer'' crossed his mind.
''It comes into your head now and then, but I love it here and I think this is the place for me,'' he said. ''It was a rough week. But I feel I can focus.''
Devlin could be more than a capable backup.
''Darryl earned the job and is going to be a great player,'' Butler said, ''but Pat could start for any Division I team, too.''
On his first play, Devlin found Jordan Norwood deep for 40 yards. Though he said his timing could have been better, he was generally satisfied with his 5-for-8, 83-yard performance.
Devlin admitted he's still disappointed not to be the starter - ''that doesn't go away,'' he said - but he came out of the opener ''fairly happy.''
Paterno said he didn't have a preconceived idea of when he was going to insert Devlin, but he felt the time was right. The coach squirmed at a question on whether Clark would start Saturday's game with Oregon State and whether Devlin would be assured some snaps, too.
''Clark has earned the job, but I think Devlin is very close,'' JoePa said. ''We're going to play the game. We're going to start Clark, and if it's appropriate to get Devlin in, we'll get him in.''
A defined role, he said, ''is not the way it works. You have to compete, and it's not always going to go your way.''
Does he expect to play next week?
''I have no idea,'' he said.
Clark doesn't know, either. On a rotation, he said, ''I don't know if that's going to continue. All I can do is stay ready.''
While uncertainty will remain until the Nittany Lions as a team and the quarterbacks as individuals encounter adversity that no doubt lurks down the road, believing is half the battle.
And it's clear both Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin believe.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.