Paterno: last-minute draw call was ‘brilliant’

Following Saturday’s 20-14 loss to Minnesota, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno defended his decision to run a draw play on second down in the final minute of the game.

The Lions had gone from their own 20-yard line to Minnesota’s 15 in less than two minutes, mostly through the air. After quarterback Michael Robinson missed Gerald Smith in the end zone, Paterno called a draw for freshman tailback Austin Scott on the next play.

Scott was stopped by Gophers’ linebacker Kyle McKenzie after a gain of just two yards. Penn State was left with one less down and forced to hurry the next play with the clock running. Two subsequent incompletions did the Lions in and gave the Gophers the win.

“I called that, and it was a great call,” Paterno said. “If we hang on the blocks, then Scott is in the end zone, and we had timeouts. If we didn’t have timeouts, then it was a lousy call. But since we did have timeouts, it was a brilliant call.”

It’s tricky

Minnesota coach Glen Mason pulled a couple rabbits out of his playbook Saturday.

To accompany Rhys Lloyd’s onside kick to himself to start the game, several other Gophers got in on the trickery.

The punt unit included starting quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq every time it came on the field. Abdul-Khaliq lined up behind center for approximately 10 seconds before dropping back about five yards and blocking for Lloyd.

“It’s a little different,” Lloyd said. “We try and keep the main guys out there so it looks like we might try a fake. The first time we tried it, they called a timeout. So we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.”

Also, on third-and-4 in the first quarter, Marion Barber III caught a pitch from Abdul-Khaliq and swept right. Once he got near the sideline, he cocked his arm and fired the ball to tight end Ben Utecht, who caught it in double coverage. The play was good for a gain of 15 yards and a first down. Tailback Laurence Maroney scored three plays later.

Barber III closer to Jr.

With his touchdown run in the first quarter, Barber moved within one score of tying his father, Marion Barber Jr., for the Minnesota single-season touchdown record of 12.

The younger Barber now has 11 touchdowns in five games and has scored in every game for the Gophers. Minnesota’s other three running backs – Laurence Maroney, Thomas Tapeh and Terry Jackson II – have combined for just six total scores.

Paterno coaches 600th

Paterno coached his 600th game as a member of Penn State’s coaching staff. He is 338-103-3 as a head coach.

He is in his 38th season as head coach and 54th overall with the Lions. The 338 wins rank first all-time on the Division I-A career wins list.

Minnesota spoiled his 600th effort by beating his Lions for the third straight time. The Gophers are the fourth team to ever beat Paterno in three consecutive games.

Lloyd mixes it up again

Lloyd once again did something interesting Saturday.

This time, on punts, Lloyd caught snaps from center, took a few steps to the right and wound up before kicking the ball.

“I’ve done it before,” Lloyd said. “Obviously, having played soccer, I’m pretty good at it. Coach threw it in this week and so far it has worked.”

Lloyd surprised everyone by showing up at the team’s season opener against Tulsa and handling kickoff duties. The junior college transfer was cleared academically the day before. Though there were no field goal attempts in the game, Mason declared Lloyd his placekicker after the contest.

In the Gophers’ third game, Lloyd took over punting duties after Utecht began the season and freshman Mark Rivers took over in the second game against Troy State.