UNIVERSITY PARK - It's tough to find many negatives from Penn State's three blowout wins, but there's one possible concern about the way the season has unfolded so far.
The games have gotten out of hand so quickly that most of the starters haven't been on the field for four quarters. That could be the case again Saturday against Temple, too, meaning the Nittany Lions might have to worry about fatigue when the starters' playing time gets stretched out as they begin Big Ten play next week against Illinois.
One way around that would be for the coaching staff to play the starters deeper in the game this week, regardless of the score.
''My only concern with the amount of time they're playing is that this is ordinarily when you would play your team into shape,'' coach Joe Paterno said.
The starting offensive line has been on the field a lot, Paterno pointed out, but most other units have not.
''You've got to be careful that when they don't [play deep into games] that you don't go out and start practicing and try to make up for it by saying, ''We've got to condition them,''' Paterno said.
Doing that, the coach noted, means ''you end up with a tired football team going into the next week.''
The chance to rest starters, get more players involved and build depth in blowouts outweighs the concern of fatigue down the road. Still, it could be something to watch out for when the Illini pay a visit.
''It's a little tricky,'' Paterno said.
unt returns explained
Receiver Derrick Williams is the primary punt returner, but safety Anthony Scirrotto frequently is back deep on kicks instead. The Lions have employed a similar strategy for years, often going with a defensive back rather than the return specialist.
''When I'm back there myself, we're in a punt safe [formation],'' Scirrotto said. ''That is where our defense stays out on the field because it's a fourth-and-short situation - possible fake situation - so we keep our defense out there.''
That strategy has led to some frustration for fans since Scirrotto - or whomever the defensive back has been - almost always calls for a fair catch and picks up little yardage when he does try to return the kick.
Saturday against Syracuse, Scirrotto fielded a punt deep in PSU territory late in the first half, looked disheveled when he tried to return and lost a fumble.
Paterno confirmed that the possibility of a fake punt is one reason Scirrotto replaces Williams on occasion. He also said he likes to ''give Williams a little blow once in a while'' when it appears there won't be a chance at a return. Williams has been battling a strain in one of his stomach muscles, Paterno said last week, so the coaches may want to give him as many breathers as possible.
Paterno also was asked if he may consider a change after Scirrotto's fumble and said, ''We haven't talked about that yet, but I would doubt if we would make a change. Remember, underline doubt.''
Kevin Kelly didn't even know it, but he's only 12 field goals shy of setting the Big Ten career record.
''That's the first I've heard of that, actually,'' Kelly said when asked about the record Tuesday. ''That's pretty cool.''
Kelly, a starter since his freshman season, has connected on 61 field goals in 87 attempts (70.1 percent). The Big Ten record of 72 was set by Ohio State's Mike Nugent from 2001-04.
Kelly is 3-for-4 this season, with his lone miss coming from 60 yards. He booted a 52-yarder against Syracuse.
Kelly was asked Tuesday if kicking in a big game adds more pressure than in a blowout.
''With Coach Paterno always getting on top of us, that's probably the worst thing,'' he said. ''That's worse than 110,000 people at Ohio State.''
Mum's the word
Paterno refused - twice - to answer questions about the status of defensive linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma.
Both players have been suspended for the past two games and are not listed on the depth chart for Saturday. Police found marijuana in their apartment, and prosecutors are still deciding if charges will be filed.
News and notes
Defensive lineman Mike Lucian is listed as probable for Saturday's game after spraining an ankle against Syracuse. ''I think Lucian has got a chance,'' Paterno said. ''He didn't practice [Monday]'' but was expected to Tuesday. ... Backup linebacker Navorro Bowman leads Penn State with 24 tackles, while starter Tyrell Sales is second with 22. ''I think this is the best Sales has ever played,'' Paterno said.
''Our toughest competition is in practice right now,'' receiver Derrick Williams, speaking on the 3-0 start against weak competition.