Toldeo offensive coordinator Dave Christensen says that last year, Penn State's opponents had to pay extra attention to linebacker LaVar Arrington and end Courtney Brown, which freed other de-fenders such as end Justin Kurpeikis to make plays. Now, with Arrington and Brown in the NFL, Kurpeikis is getting the attention, and no one else has emerged. When the leading tackier at Linebacker U is strong safety James Boyd (16 stops last Saturday), there's a problem.
The Nittany Lions' offense, which has produced one touchdown, one field goal and 308 yards in two games, leaves much to be desired, too. The line could neither open running lanes nor protect senior quarterback Rashard Casey, whom Toledo sacked four times. "We tried to put pressure up the middle," said Rockets defensive coordinator Tom Amstutz. "Because they have new guys, we could get a good matchup in there."
Casey, who looked tentative against USC, looked slightly better against Toledo, completing 5 of 13 for 98 yards and a touchdown. He wasn't helped by the fact that starting wide-outs Sam Crenshaw and Rod Perry dropped five passes between them or that Casey's primary receiver, junior Eddie Drummond (sprained right knee against USC), was sidelined.
Penn State is 0-2 for the first time in 10 years, and already there's dissension. "We have no shotgun, no pitching out, no rollout," sophomore tailback Larry Johnson Jr. said. "We put [those plays] in the offense, and later we always take them out because it's not ' Penn State.' We're too predictable."
Johnson's indictment of the coaches hits home: His father is the defensive line coach.
Adams Is Small But Ferocious
When Keith Adams was just two years old, he and his father, Julius, a former Patriots defensive end, were watching Monday Night Football, and after Julius turned off the TV because it was Keith's bedtime, Keith began to cry. Julius clicked the TV back on, and Keith stopped bawling. Julius then changed the channel, and Keith started wailing again, quieting only after Julius switched back to the game. "That's how I found out Keith loved football," says Julius, now the defensive line coach at Fort Valley (Ga.) State. "I guess it's in his genes."
In fact, Keith, a junior linebacker at Clemson, credits genetics with helping him compensate for a 5'11", 220-pound body that's small for a major college linebacker. He inherited strength (452-pound bench press) from his father, who retired in 1987 as New England's alltime sack leader (he's now No. 2 with 79�), and speed (4.59 in the 40) from his mother, Pat, who in the early 1970s ranked among the top five sprinters in the nation at 220 yards. In the Tigers' 38-0 rout of The Citadel, Adams was a major reason the Bulldogs didn't cross midfield until the game's final minutes. "Keith was in our back-field so quickly, he should have been wearing our colors," said Citadel quarterback Joe Call.
Adams is an early favorite to win the Butkus Award after coming off the best year of any defensive player in Clemson's history. In 1999 he set school records and led the nation in tackles (186) and tackles for loss (35) while ranking second in the country in sacks (16). He played just over two quarters against The Citadel and produced nine tackles and a sack. "Seeing his stats, you expect Keith to look scary, like a Jevon Kearse, but he's a little guy who can knock your head off," says Tigers coach Tommy Bowden.
Adams was lightly recruited at Westlake High in Atlanta, and Clemson defensive coordinator Reggie Herring admits that even though he offered Adams a scholarship, he thought Adams would most likely be no better than a backup linebacker and a special teams player. After witnessing Adams's devastating power, Herring dubbed him Terminite. "What gives Keith his edge is that he still looks in the mirror every morning and says, 'How can I whup ass even better today?' " Herring says. "From Day One he's been told that he's too little for football," Herring says, "but in this land of Goliaths, he's one vicious David."