Penn State coach Joe Paterno looks on from the sideline during Saturday’s game against Coastal Carolina. Paterno tied Florida State’s Bobby Bowden atop the career wins list for major college coaches with 373.AP PHOTO
STATE COLLEGE -- Predictably, Joe Paterno has heard enough about history.
Amidst all of the perpetual speculation about Penn State’s 81-year-old head coach and his future, it’s easy to forget that he still has a shot to become the winningest coach in major college football history.
With Saturday’s 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina, Paterno picked up his 373rd career win to tie himself at the top of the list with Florida State’s Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles were off this week.
Paterno of course was the first to take the title away from Paul “Bear” Bryant back in 2001. But a few losing seasons allowed his good friend to surpass him for first place.
This season, Paterno has a decent chance of ending the season ahead of Bowden.
Not that he shows the slightest interest in the record.
“You guys should just let me enjoy the game,” Paterno said. “I haven’t even thought about it, and I’m not going to. I can only say it so many times. It’s not a big deal to me. I just can’t seem to get that across.”
Four true freshmen saw playing time in the rout, including both recruits who graduated high school early.
Aside from tailback Brandon Beachum and linebacker Michael Mauti, who both enrolled back in January, defensive lineman Jack Crawford and offensive lineman DeOn’tae Pannell made cameo appearances.
Beachum even scored a touchdown in his debut, a 1-yard plunge late in the fourth quarter. He also was a mainstay on the kick coverage unit.
Crawford picked up three tackles while Mauti added one.
“I think most of them did well,” Paterno said. “Beachum we really had talked to about not playing this year. We really hadn’t planned on playing him much. We wanted to play him on special team and what have you.”
Redshirt freshman tailback Stephfon Green had a successful start to his playing career, gaining a game-high 89 yards on the ground and scoring twice.
Green was most interested in grabbing a memento from the game but got no help from the officials.
“I was just happy I finally got to score. I tried to ask the referee for the ball and he said no,” Green said. “When I scored the second one, it was the same referee. I was hoping he wouldn’t notice it was me who scored the first time and I asked him for the ball again. He said no again.”
Will Richardson became the second member of his family to start a game at Beaver Stadium when he took the field at quarterback for Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
A fifth-year senior, Richardson is the brother of former Penn State standout Wally, who was the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions from 1995-96.
Richardson rotated in and out of the game with sophomore Zach MacDowell, who picked up the Chanticleers’ lone touchdown on the day, a 33-yard strike to the middle of the field that caught Penn State on a zone blitz.
“They both did good things, they both forced some things,” Coastal coach David Bennett said. “But when you’re trying to block those defensive ends, it’s tough because they get in there so quick.”
Penn State’s 66 points were the most in a season opener since beating Susquehanna 82-0 in 1926. ... The Lions’ 594 yards of total offense were the most since a win over Rutgers in 1995. ... Penn State’s record in openers improved to 101-19-2.