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Penn State Report: 9/14/03

Sunday, September 14, 2003

By Ray Fittipaldo, Post-Gazette Sports Writer


Kent State (2-1) vs. Penn State (1-2), 1 p.m. Saturday, Beaver Stadium. No TV. Radio: WEAE-AM (1250) and the Nittany Lions Radio Network.


Coach Joe Paterno said this week that he would have to re-evaluate some of his starting positions on offense and defense. After doing so, he made six changes in his starting lineup. OT Chris McKelvy and OG Tyler Reed started in place of Damone Jones and Nick Marmo, and WR Ernie Terrell started in place of Kinta Palmer. On defense, S Andrew Guman, DT Jason Robinson and DE Matt Rice started in place of Chris Harrell, Ed Johnson and John Bronson.

Penn State's defensive line has been besieged by injuries. T Jeremiah Davis is out for the season after a couple of concussions in preseason camp.T Jay Alford (sprained knee) missed his second game in a row. Joining the ranks of the injured this week are ends Sam Ruhe and Patrick Hall. Ruhe, the backup to starter Lavon Chisley at right end, is out indefinitely because of a sprained knee. Hall (shoulder), third on the depth chart at right end, was injured against Boston College and did not make the trip to Lincoln. The spate of injuries prompted the coaching staff to bring true freshman John Shaw on the trip as a defensive tackle. Shaw had practiced with the offensive line until two weeks ago.

Jeremy Kapinos made the trip and punted. Kapinos was cited for disorderly conduct and underage drinking early Sunday morning, a few hours after Penn State lost to Boston College.

DT Scott Paxson paid a fine for receiving stolen property earlier this week and made the trip with the team. Paxson was riding a bicycle in July that was not his.

In another move designed to strengthen the receiving corps, Donnie Johnson was moved from running back to receiver. He joined Gerald Smith this week in making the transition to receiver. Smith was a defensive back in preseason camp but played receiver last season.

Penn State played just its 14th game under Paterno as far west as Nebraska. Before last night, the Lions were 7-6 in those games. The game was the first west of the Missouri River for the Nittany Lions since a 1992 game at BYU.

The two-game series between these two schools ended lastnight, and there are no plans to schedule any more games. Penn State has been scheduling non-conference games with several high-profile schools in different parts of the country in an effort to appease alumni. Next season, Penn State will play at Boston College to conclude that two-game series and series in the near future include home-and-home games against Notre Dame, Syracuse and Alabama.

Penn State and Nebraska staged some memorable games during their off-and-on rivalry. In 1981, the previous game in Lincoln, the lead changed hands five times and the teams combined for 800 yards offense. Curt Warner rushed for 238 yards in the Lions' 30-24 victory, still the second-highest total against the Cornhuskers and the 10th most in Penn State's history. The next season, Penn State won a thriller at Beaver Stadium, 27-24, when Todd Blackledge threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kirk Bowman with four seconds remaining. Penn State also won games in 1920 (20-0), '49 (22-7), '51 (15-7) and 2002 (40-7). Nebraska won games in '50 (19-0), '58 (14-7), '79 (42-17), '80 (21-7) and '83 (44-6).

Penn State and Nebraska are two of the winningest teams in college football history. Before last night, Penn State had 754 victories and a 69.3 winning percentage, ninth best in the nation. Nebraska had 773 victories and a 70.7 winning percentage seventh nationally.

A couple of people from Penn State had homecomings this weekend. University president Graham Spanier, who has held his current position since 1995, was formally a chancellor at Nebraska from '91-95. Assistant offensive line coach Bill Kenney was a graduate assistant coach with the Cornhuskers in '86 and '87 under Tom Osborne.

The game was the 258th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium. The Cornhuskers have sold out every game since 1962 when Bob Devaney was coach. They are 99-5 at home the past 16 seasons.

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