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College football briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 4, 2000


Penn State uneasy with winless start

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Finger-pointing has replaced smiles in Happy Valley. Penn State is 0-2 for the first time in 10 years.

The Nittany Lions lacked offense for the second straight week, and the defense couldn't stop the run as Toledo, a 17-point underdog, gained a 24-6 victory Saturday.

One player blamed the ineffectiveness of the offense on the coaching staff.

"It's the system, entirely the system," tailback Larry Johnson said. "We've got coaches who've been here for 30, 20 years. It seems like things never change.

"We run the same offense and teams that played us know what we're going to run. They can pull out tapes from back in '92, '93. We run the same offense. It's the same plays, same system."

After getting just six rushing yards in a 29-5 season-opening loss to Southern Cal, Penn State gained 30 on the ground against Toledo. The offense needed seven quarters to score its first touchdown and has 308 yards in two games.

Johnson's father, Larry Sr., is Penn State's defensive line coach.

Quarterback Rashard Casey had nearly as many passes dropped as completions against Toledo, finishing 5 of 13 for 98 yards and one touchdown. For the second straight week, he was replaced late in the game by Matt Senneca. Senneca, who was 5 of 11 for 38 yards, stood by Casey.

"A lot of the things that happened weren't Rashard's fault," Senneca said. "It might have looked that way. It looks that way all the time with the quarterback."

Johnson would like to see Fran Ganter, the coach in charge of offense, add some new plays.

"We used to have the pitch; we don't have it in there. We have the shotgun. We have the option," said Johnson, who scored Penn State's only touchdown on a 61-yard catch-and-run. "Every time we try to put those things in there, we end up taking them out because it's too much, it's not Penn State."

Penn State, which entered the season ranked No. 22, last week fell out of the Top 25 for the first time in eight years.

ARKANSAS: Cornerback D'Andre Berry was ejected in the third quarter against Southwest Missouri State after he apparently swung at an opposing player. Berry, making his first start, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

N.C. STATE: Starting center Keegan Weir is out for the season after breaking his right leg against Arkansas State. Weir had surgery Sunday morning to repair a tibia and fibula with screws and plates. Weir broke the same leg in last season's opener and played some in N.C. State's final four games.

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