UNIVERSITY PARK -- This has to be the week that Evan Royster comes up big, and if he doesn't, questions will intensify about whether Penn State's soon-to-be career leading rusher should even be starting anymore.
Royster has been praised repeatedly for his calculating running style and great feet. Most of his 2,990 career yards have been gained by taking the handoff, evaluating the situation, darting through a hole and sidestepping a tackler or two.
Ironically, it's that running style that is drawing Royster heavy criticism this season, with more and more people piling on saying he looks slow and disinterested.
Royster brought all this on himself by gaining about 13 pounds during the offseason and showing up to summer workouts looking chunky. It wasn't, mind you, 13 pounds of muscle.
He has shed most of the weight and is down to 218, but he has not been able to shed the public perception that he let himself go and let his team down.
Watching backups Stephfon Green and true freshman Silas Redd burst to the line of scrimmage makes it seem like they are more dangerous or better running backs because they are full-go attackers.
That's not Royster's style, never has been. He's not a guy who's going to make a lot out of a little, so he needs at least some sliver of a hole opened up by the offensive line.
So far the line hasn't shown it can open holes for Royster, who has just 72 yards rushing in two games.
"I don't know whether we've really established the kind of running game that Royster would do well in," Joe Paterno said. "Royster is a kind of a pick 'em and spot 'em, give me a crack and I'll go guy. He's not a guy that's going to run over you."
So the big question becomes: If the Nittany Lions can't establish the kind of control up front that JoePa was talking about, should Royster still be the featured tailback?
The question is not will he be? The answer to that is undoubtedly yes, because there's little chance Paterno would bench a senior who's a good kid and has meant so much to the program for four years.
The question of whether Royster should be getting carries that could go to Green or Redd is the murkier issue.
For all the hype the speedy Green received when he got to Penn State, he hasn't exactly lit the world on fire. He has 942 yards rushing on 187 carries (5.0 per attempt) and one 100-yard game.
Redd, an impressive freshman from Connecticut, has generated a lot of buzz so far with his power-running ability and has 46 yards rushing on eight carries. PSU fans all over the Internet are speculating if he's already the best running back on the team.
"I think Silas will be a good back," Paterno said. "I think he's done well when we've played him. We've not asked him to do too much.
"But Royster, the minute we can get a little bit more running room for Royster and ... Green, they're both good backs. And Redd would be the third behind those two. I think he's got potential. But he certainly is not as ready to play as those first two kids."
Maybe not yet, anyway. But if Royster can't get anything going against Kent State, don't be surprised if the coaches look to Green and Redd for a spark.
If they provide one, there could be an interesting running back controversy the remainder of the season.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.