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Paterno gives squad an easy day of practice as key road stretch looms

Saturday night game left Lions a little banged up

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said he is just hoping his team can get healthy for Saturday’s game at Purdue.

AP PHOTO

Daryll Clark was moving around about as well as his 81-year-old coach does with a bad leg.

An ice pack tightly wrapped around his left knee, the Penn State quarterback had to gingerly stand up and sit down in the hour after a violent 38-24 win over Illinois.

A few starters like Anthony Scirrotto and Ollie Ogbu dealt with debilitating cramps during the game. Mickey Shuler barely saw the field with a sprained ankle. Leading receiver Jordan Norwood was stuck on the sidelines with an injured hamstring.

The Nittany Lions are just trying to get healthy for Saturday’s game at Purdue.

“Well, I think (Norwood’s) going to be OK, but don’t hold me to that,” said Joe Paterno, who has been hobbling around for the past few weeks himself, at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “We practiced (Monday) with just shells. (Illinois) was a tough football game. It was a physically tough football game. We’ve been pushing it pretty hard and I wanted to just give them a chance to take a blow.”

The ever-cautious Paterno knows that this weekend trip to West Lafayette has all the makings of a trap game. The Boilermakers (2-2) sit right between two high-tension night games on Penn State’s schedule, coming after the draining Illinois win and next week’s trip to Wisconsin.

Throw in the assorted pains that are hitting the Nittany Lions along with a lofty No. 6 ranking, and even defensively challenged Purdue is starting to look tricky.

Never mind the national championship rumblings around the program.

“I just say we’ve got Purdue this week,” was Paterno’s advice to his team this week. “If we don’t pay attention to what’s right in front of you, then all that stuff down the road isn’t gonna happen. We’ve just got to turn on and go out there and practice well, practice hard, try to play as well as we can play. And, hopefully, we can win a couple more football games.

“But all you’ve got to do is point to some of the (teams) that were invincible … but all of sudden they’re not the guys everybody thinks they were two, three, four weeks ago. I don’t think that’s a hard job, not on our squad anyway. I think our guys have their heads on pretty good. I think they’ll be all right.”

Immediate dividends

Three years ago, a big chunk of this team’s foundation was created after a night game at Beaver Stadium.

A large number of recruits were on hand to watch Penn State’s 17-10 upset of Ohio State in 2005. And many of them ended up committing to the Lions. Even a guy like A.J. Wallace, who had only mild interest in Penn State at the time, was won over by the atmosphere.

The effect from the Lions’ win over Illinois on Saturday likely won’t be quite as dramatic, but count a couple who were won over already.

New Jersey linebacker Glenn Carson and Maryland receiver Devon Smith both pledged to Penn State over the weekend according to recruiting sites Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Carson – 6-foot-3, 225 pounds – is a four-star recruit per Scout as the No. 7 MLB in the country. Rivals.com has him as a three-star and the No. 24 inside linebacker.

He’s the 17th verbal for the Lions in the 2009 recruiting class. His offer list was a lengthy one, including Boston College, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Rutgers, Stanford and Virginia.

Smith, verbal No. 18, stands at just 5-foot-7, 150 pounds but is known predominately for his speed. Both sites list him as a three-star prospect.

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