WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Nittany Lions will kick off the 2009 season against Akron at Beaver Stadium, a source close to the program told the Mirror on Saturday.
The game, to be played Sept. 5, has yet to be announced by the university but has been agreed upon by both schools. It's a one-game contract and will be one of eight home games for the Lions next year.
Penn State has played Akron three times since 1999. The Lions beat the Zips in week two in 1999, 70-24, and opened up with them in 2004 and '06, winning 48-10 and 34-16, respectively.
Penn State will be at home for the first four games next year. The full schedule: Akron (Sept. 5), Syracuse (Sept. 12), Temple (Sept. 19), Iowa (Sept. 26), at Illinois (Oct. 3), Eastern Illinois (Oct. 10), Minnesota (Oct. 17), at Michigan (Oct. 24), at Northwestern (Oct. 31), Ohio State (Nov. 7), Indiana (Nov. 14) and at Michigan State (Nov. 21).
Tight ends Quarless, Shuler injured
Penn State has concerns at tight end after Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler suffered ankle injuries Saturday. Both are questionable for next week's game at Wisconsin.
Quarless started for the second straight week and suffered his injury late in the game. Shuler began the season as the starter but has been battling an ankle injury, and he aggravated it Saturday.
The Lions' third-string tight end is redshirt freshman Andrew Szczerba.
Big day for Hull
Linebacker Josh Hull, coming off a week of media and fan criticism, silenced his critics with a big game.
Hull finished with a career-high 11 tackles - all unassisted - and two tackles for losses. He had nine stops and both of his tackles for losses in the first half, that after recording only 21 tackles in the first five games.
Hull said he knew the criticism ''was out there'' but noted, ''I didn't pay any attention to it at all.''
''Even if I did,'' he added, ''it wouldn't have motivated me. I take it upon myself to motivate myself and upon my teammates.''
Asked about the biggest difference for him Saturday, Hull said: ''I was just reacting to everything. I wasn't thinking, I was just seeing what was going on in front of me and reacting.''
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, agreeing with coach Joe Paterno, said the criticism of Hull was unwarranted.
''I just don't think it's fair,'' Bradley said. ''He's getting his feet wet, every game's a new learning experience, every offense we've played has been a little different and he's starting to get the hang of it.
''We ask so much of that guy to do,'' Bradley later added. ''I don't think people realize how many different things we ask our linebacker to do.''
Clark gaining national attention
Daryll Clark may be a longshot for the Heisman Trophy, but he's starting to get some mentions as a candidate with Penn State's perfect start.
SportsIllustrated.com ranked Clark No. 8 in its Heisman watch this past week. If the Lions continue to win and Clark plays well, he'll likely at least be in the mix.
''I didn't even know that until this past week,'' Clark said of the Heisman attention.
The first-year starting quarterback was 18-of-26 for 220 yards and scored a rushing touchdown Saturday. For the season, he's 80-of-124 (64.5 percent) for 1,116 yards with nine TDs and one interception. He's also scored four times on the ground.
''I really don't pay any attention to that,'' Clark said of the Heisman hype. ''The only stat that I care about is the 'W' right now.''
All in the family for Gaines
Defensive end Josh Gaines hails from two hours away in Fort Wayne, Ind., and had a contingent of 94 family and friends on hand for the game.
''To get that kind of support, that's huge,'' Gaines said.
Each player receives four free tickets, and a number of PSU players offered up their allotment so that no one in Gaines' group had to pay.
''None of my family had to buy anything, so it was nice to put them all in one area,'' Gaines said.
Cadogan on academic watch list
Left tackle Gerald Cadogan has been selected to the watch list for the Draddy Trophy, given to the nation's top academic football player. He's one of 164 players around the nation up for the honor.
The Draddy is presented annually to ''an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership,'' according to a press release from the National Football Foundation.
Cadogan, a senior, carries a 3.68 GPA in a double major of rehabilitation services and psychology. Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny won the Draddy in 2006.
Receiver Jordan Norwood missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. The coaching staff is hopeful he'll be back next week against Wisconsin. ... Brett Brackett started at receiver in Norwood's absence. ... A.J. Wallace started in place of Lydell Sargeant at cornerback, and Sargeant didn't enter the game until the fourth quarter. Paterno didn't give a reason why Sargeant was held out so long. ... Abe Koroma started at defensive tackle, replacing Ollie Ogbu, who had been battling a hamstring injury. Ogbu did play. ... True freshman on the trip included: defensive tackles Jack Crawford, DeOn'tae Pannell and Brandon Ware, running back Brandon Beachum, linebacker Michael Mauti and defensive back D'Anton Lynn. Ware is the only one yet to burn his redshirt.