UNIVERSITY PARK - No one knows for sure if some of Penn State's players smoked anything illegal this past week, but this much is definite: The Nittany Lions smoked Oregon State on Saturday.
''Everything went well today,'' quarterback Daryll Clark said.
Clark was a big reason why, proving in just his second-career start he may have more of what it takes to be a winning quarterback than Anthony Morelli showed in two years as the starter.
Mirror photo by Teri Enciso
Penn State running back Evan Royster heads into the end zone for the Nittany Lions’ first touchdown on Saturday.
Clark's composure in key third-down situations, his accuracy throwing over the middle and his running skills allowed him to toy with Oregon State's defense.
Evan Royster helped in making road kill of the Beavers with a big day on the ground, and Penn State's defense had little trouble with OSU's pass-happy attack.
The Lions looked most impressive in a 45-14 win before 108,159 fans at Beaver Stadium, leaving only one question unanswered: Could Arkansas State, which won at Texas A&M last week and obliterated Texas Southern yesterday, 83-10, really have provided a more competitive game?
The Lions expected a good early season matchup from a quality Pac-10 program, which is why they dumped Arkansas State from the schedule in favor of Oregon State. The Beavers, though, failed to provide much of a test.
Penn State jumped out to a 28-0 lead and was up 35-7 at the half. Just like in last week's 66-10 trouncing of Coastal Carolina, the Lions could have poured it on even more against the overmatched Beavers.
''I was pleased with us,'' Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. ''I thought we came out and really shocked them. We did a lot of things well.''
''We knew this was going to be a tough opponent,'' safety Anthony Scirrotto said, ''and everybody's very proud of how we played out there.''
The effort was particularly impressive given the Lions endured yet another week of off-the-field difficulties.
Defensive end Maurice Evans and defensive tackle Abe Koroma were suspended for the game after police seized a small amount of marijuana from their apartment Tuesday. Such a distraction might have damaged the focus of many teams, but the Lions are used to it by now.
''We've been through so much in the past couple years, and it just goes to show how strong we are together and how close we are,'' Scirrotto said.
Clark guided the Penn State offense to touchdowns on the first two drives and four of the first five. He finished the day 14-of-23 for 215 yards and two touchdowns through the air and gained 61 yards with a TD on just five carries.
''Daryll was hot today,'' offensive coordinator Galen Hall said.
That much was evident from the get-go.
Clark showed poise converting two key third downs on PSU's opening drive, hitting Jordan Norwood for 14 yards on the first one and Mickey Shuler for 24 yards on the second.
The Shuler reception moved the Lions to the Oregon State 26, and Clark showed something the immobile Morelli never did on the next play with an 11-yard keeper. Royster finished the drive and scored the first of his three touchdowns, this one from 15 yards.
Clark gained 24 yards on a third-and-3 keeper on the next drive. He capped that possession with a 5-yard TD strike to Shuler, who made a nice catch in traffic.
''It meant a lot,'' Clark said of his big game. ''I was very confident going into this week.''
Royster extended the Lions' lead to 28-0 with a pair of scoring runs in the second quarter. He showed good footwork to shake a tackler at the line of scrimmage on a 28-yard TD and took another one in from 4 yards out with 11:11 left in the half.
Royster gained 141 yards on just 17 carries - an average of 8.3 per attempt - and more importantly now has six touchdowns through two games.
''It definitely is fun,'' Royster, with a humble grin, said of his six scores so far.
The Beavers put together their best drive of the game to get on the scoreboard late in the half. They marched 80 yards and got a 12-yard TD run from Jacquizz Rodgers, who had a solid day with 99 yards on 22 carries.
Oregon State's defense just had no answers for the Lions, however, and Penn State moved 78 yards at the end of the half for another touchdown. Clark threw one of his prettiest passes of the day as he connected with Norwood on a 22-yard fade pattern in the left side of the end zone.
Clark entered the season known for his running skills, but he has shown good accuracy through two games. That's no surprise to his teammates and coaches.
''No, I'm not surprised,'' Hall said. ''Maybe you people [in the media] are. But we're not. We see him every day.''
Norwood was Clark's favorite target, catching eight passes for 116 yards, and said, ''This is definitely an example of how he's been all winter and up until now.''
Clark completed another strike, for 26 yards over the middle, to Norwood on third-and-11 to keep a drive alive midway through the third quarter. Clark then capped his impressive day by taking off up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown, making it 42-7 with 4:53 left in the third.
''I thought he made some very good throws,'' Oregon State coach Mike Riley said before adding, ''he looked impressive when he ran the ball on third down.''
The game may have proved there really is no quarterback competition for Penn State as Clark took every snap until it was 42-7, then gave way to Pat Devlin.
''We've said Clark had a lot of potential,'' Paterno said. ''You guys are tired of hearing me say it, but I don't know how else to express it.''
Penn State's offense had little trouble with the Beavers, and the defense had a good day, as well. Oregon State gained 342 yards but was limited mostly to short passes.
''I'm extremely proud of shutting them down,'' said linebacker Josh Hull, who had an interception and six tackles. ''We played a lot of zone defense today. Everyone just played their responsibilities real well, and we came away with a win.''
A win much easier than expected, too.
''Coach Joe had talked to us and made sure we realized how serious this was,'' Clark said. ''Oregon State's a good team and had the potential to actually come here and steal one.''