UNIVERSITY PARK — You think you know Darryl Clark, Penn State’s starting quarterback since last year’s season opener on Aug. 28, 2008 — a total of 424 days and counting? Well, you only know 1/17th of it.
As the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) prepare for their game at Northwestern (5-3, 2-2) Saturday — a 4:30 p.m. kickoff — here are 17 Things You Should Know About Daryll Clark:
Google “Daryll Clark Penn State” and in .19 seconds a total of 159,000 entries appear. (“Darryl Clark Penn State” yields 97,900.)
Clark was named Big Ten Player of the Week twice in 2009, following the Akron and Michigan games. Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn is the only other player to be so honored in 2009 — once was as a special team player following his punt block and TD vs. Penn State.
Earlier his season, Clark took out the entire Nittany Lion starting offensive line to College Buffet, an all-you-can Chinese restaurant in State College, in the Walmart plaza on North Atherton Street. His fortune cookie read: “Wise is the quarterback who nourishes his blockers.”
Clark already has his undergraduate degree, in telecommunications.
For the 2008 and 2009 seasons combined, only two quarterbacks in Division I (FBS) have more wins than Clark as a starter. They are Tim Tebow of Florida (20) and Colt McCoy of Texas (19). Clark has 18, as does Kellen Moore of Boise State.
When Clark and since-departed Pat Devlin were fighting for the starting job in the 2008 preseason, they were more than civil about it. “Daryll and Devlin were friendly throughout it all,” says a teammate. “They worked to make each better.”
Clark delivers in rain (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Syracuse), snow (Minnesota) and heavy winds (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan). Sleet? Sure to make an appearance.
Clark is absolutely mad when he smells paydirt. Inside the 10-yard line, he is 8 of 10 with 45 yards passing, with seven touchdowns and an insane efficiency rating of 328.80. Inside the red zone (20 yards and in) he is 19 of 27 for 164 yards passing, with 11 TDs and a pick, with an efficiency rating of 248.43.
“In the huddle, Darryl is calm but intense,” says a fellow offensive starter. “He never loses his cool, even when we were down against Iowa.”
With Clark at the helm, Penn State is tops in the Big Ten in third down conversions (53.6 percent) and ranks tied for third in the country in third down conversions. (Northwestern, at 51.13 percent, is fifth in the nation.)
Clark can lead a time-consuming drive. Penn State’s average possession time per game is 33 minutes and 11 seconds — over six minutes more than the opposition. That’s sixth in the country. And of the Nittany Lions’ 38 scoring drives in 2009, 25 (65.7 percent) have been over 62 yards.
In practice, when the first team offense goes against the first team defense, both in the preseason and on Tuesdays during the season, Clark hates to lose. “He’ll do all he can to pump up the offense,” says one of the linemen. “He takes it personally.”
Clark is having a better year than Tebow is in Florida. Much. Compared to Tebow per game, Clark has more yards passing, more total yards (running and passing), more touchdowns, more touchdowns running and passing, more pass attempts and more completions (Clark’s per game completions are one less than Tebow’s average attempts.) Clark averages 3.1 yards per run, while Tebow averages less than a yard more, at 3.9.
Clark has a reputation on the team as a funny guy. “If you do something stupid, he loves to bust on you,” says a teammate.
An average game for Clark is 2009 is 18 of 29 passing for 235 yards, with an 8.1 yard average per throw, and two touchdowns, one interception and one sack. He runs five times a game for 16.5 yards and a half-touchdown.
Joe Paterno thinks Clark is under-rated. “I don’t think Clark’s gotten anywhere near the kind of credit he should after the season he had last year and the season he’s having this year,” said Joe, who blames the media for that. “Whether you guys know it not, you guys have a little of prejudice [against Penn State players] and it shows.”
Clark’s 17 touchdown passes do more than match his jersey number. Clark ranks tied for third in the nation with 17 TD tosses, and only nine teams have thrown more scoring passes than Clark. He has more touchdown passes than, among others, Tebow (more than twice as many, in fact), McCoy, Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas, Jacory Harris of Miami (Fla.) and Bill Stull of Pitt.
That’s 17 – and counting.