Penn State’s Rushing Attack will be Dominant this Fall



Star running backs and Penn State University go together like black guys and fat white girls.

Over the years, “Linebacker U” has coincidentally produced some of the nation’s finest tailbacks in all of college football. Quite a few have been huge busts at the NFL level: Ki-Jana Carter, D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Curtis Enis. Other have enjoyed tremendous success: Franco Harris, Curt Warner, Larry Johnson.

And Happy Valley‘s current starting tailback, Evan Royster, is very high on the lists of NFL scouts. After pondering the idea of casting his net into the NFL waters last year, the 6-1, 213 pound back from Fairfax, Virginia returned to University Park  to continue his assault on the Penn State rushing record book. Some of those records are held by Warner himself, so I asked him his thoughts on Royster, and the Big Ten power program in general.

By Paul M. Banks

Royster is a big physical back who takes good care of the ball, and rarely fumbles. He ran for 1,169 yards and 6 TDs in ’09. The senior is paired with junior Stephfon Green a flashy, but injury-prone back known for his speed.

“They (PSU’s backfield) fit well into the Penn State system,” Warner said.
“I think we were a little bit more run-oriented than they are now. They’ll throw the ball more, a little less convervative, but these guys fit the mold very well,” he continued.

And Warner certainly knows a thing or two about running the ball. He was the third pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, and during his seven NFL seasons, he made the Pro Bowl four times. The Lions were 18-0 when he ran for over 100 yards in a game. And he was the main offensive weapon on the 1982 National Championship team.

He left school setting records for career rushing yards, all-purpose yards and 100-yard games. Today he is the owner of Curt Warner Chevrolet in Camas, Washington.

Royster saw his yards-per-carry average dip almost a full point from 6.5 his so. year to 5.7 his jr. year, largely because of the makeshift offensive line in front of him. This year, the big uglies up front have some turnover again, but at least the right side will have some stability.

PSU is an elite team offensively only when they have the QB to complement the backs. They’re a program that will always be good, and always have a solid running game, but only when they have a great passing attack do they appear in Rose Bowls and BCS games. This year, they have a lot of question marks at quarterback, And the front-runner for the starting job, Kevin Newsome is very unproven.

I asked Warner about the bipolar production results of Nittany Lion running backs in the NFL. “It’s like any other sport, I think it really comes down to the team you’re on and the system you’re in,” he said.

Former Lion Larry Johnson was once a stud running back in K.C., especially in ’05-’06, but the last couple years, his production has gone declined and he’s developed into a tremendous headcase. In D.C. this fall, it may be his last shot at redemption. And with the Skins he’ll likely be fighting former Steeler Willie Parker for carries behind starter Clinton Portis.

“As far as Larry going to the Redskins, he can re-invent himself with Shanahan, and his offfense. I think he stands a good chance to showcase his talents.” Warner said.

Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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