UNIVERSITY PARK - The good news is the Penn State running game surfaced for the first time this season.
The bad news is some holes showed up in the Nittany Lions' passing game, which contributed to Penn State's less-than-impressive 31-6 win over Temple Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
At the least, the Lions remain perhaps the nation's most overrated team at No. 5 in the Associated Press and USA Today-ESPN polls, and at the worst, they'll enter Big Ten Conference play Saturday against nemesis Iowa with their offense in need of an oil change.
"We're not happy with where we are," said quarterback Daryll Clark, who was hurried and missed several open targets en route to a season-low 167 yards. "We have to put it all together."
While Temple seemed, well, like Temple and was jittery offensively - the Owls called three timeouts at odd times in the Nit red zone in the first and third quarters - they did hang tough defensively and limited PSU's big plays.
"No matter their record, Temple is a team of hard hitters," Clark said. "They were ready to play."
The Owls' aggressive defense contributed to the struggles of the Lions' pass game as Temple disguised some blitzes and knocked Clark down several times.
He suffered a shoulder "stinger" in the second quarter, which he said lasted well into the second half, but he made no excuses.
"We had a couple drops and some protection issues, but we had some guys open, and I have to hit them," he said.
Unlike previous opponents Akron and Syracuse that stacked eight defenders near the line and dared the Lions to throw - which they did successfully - Temple played a more conventional scheme.
Challenging the Lions' passing game opened some cracks on the ground for really the first time this year.
"We have to be able to run when there's seven in the box," Joe Paterno said. "If we can't run with seven in the box, then we've really got some problems."
Probably because the Lions were able to run the ball decently and knowing they'll have to as the season unfolds, JoePa felt his team played better than it has to date.
Maybe so, but in part because of the competition, he still isn't sure how this offense will handle a Big Ten defense like the one Iowa will bring in.
"We were a little sloppy today in situations," Paterno admitted.
The defense wasn't.
It has yet to allow a touchdown in the first half this year and will aid in the offense's ongoing acclimation of fielding three new starters on the offensive line, including guard Johnnie Troutman (who made his debut Saturday) and the two returnees (Dennis Landolt and Stefen Wisniewski) who are in different positions than they played last year.
Ever the perfectionist, though, Paterno, is looking for more. The defense has secured just four turnovers this season.
"I'm disappointed we're not making more plays around the ball," Paterno said. "Some of the kids are a little hesitant. They don't get the jump on the ball because they don't have the confidence they need."
Will the Big Ten put the Lions on their toes or their heels? The next two months will tell.
"The fact that it's Iowa, the fact that it's 8 o'clock," Clark said, "I think we'll be ready."
Based on the Nittany Lions' uneven performance so far, they'll need to be.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.