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Choice of QB is not certain



Published: Wed, October 18, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Third-stringer Paul Cianciolo is a likely name.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Joe Paterno's quarterback forecast for this weekend sounded a lot like the dreary weather Tuesday in Happy Valley: mostly cloudy.

Doctors haven't cleared starter Anthony Morelli or backup Daryll Clark of Ursuline for full contact in practice after both quarterbacks sustained concussions during last week's 17-10 loss to No. 2 Michigan

Welcome to the first team, third-stringer Paul Cianciolo.

At least through practice on Thursday, when Paterno will get the final word from doctors as to whether either Morelli or Clark will be able to play Saturday against Illinois at Beaver Stadium.

The status

Morelli and Clark are officially listed as "possible" on the injury report, and Paterno called the situation "day-to-day."

Both players can at least "throw the ball, so it isn't a question that they are not going to do anything and just stand around" in practice, Paterno said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

"It is a little bit of a dilemma for us, but right now there is an outside chance that both of them can play and, hopefully, at least one can play," he said.

If Morelli or Clark cannot go and Cianciolo starts, redshirt freshman Kevin Suhey will have to move from scout-team quarterback to backup in the matter of a week.

Still, Paterno isn't ready to scale back the playbook just yet.

While they had practiced well so far, "I am not quite sure how much Paul and Kevin can handle," Paterno said. "Obviously, they have to get their timing with individual receivers and things of that sort. We are not looking to pull back a lot. I don't think we want to do that until we have to."

Morelli finished 11-of-18 for 133 yards before getting knocked out of the Michigan game early after a sack by tackle Alan Branch. Otherwise, Paterno feels the junior quarterback, in his first year as starter, played relatively well given the defensive pressure he faced.

Protection problems

Penn State allowed seven sacks against Michigan's overwhelming front seven after having allowed just six over the first six weeks of the season. As a result, protecting against blitzes is something that Paterno would like to look at again this week.

That might be even more important given that the inexperienced Cianciolo might make his first career start. Cianciolo was 3-of-7 for 51 yards against Michigan, including a screen that running back Tony Hunt turned into a 43-yard touchdown.

"I think we have to be able to get a little more strength on the offensive line and hang in on the blocks," Paterno said. "The kids tried awfully hard, but they just weren't quite able to handle some of those kids that we played against last week."

Illinois won't be quite as stout as Michigan, which has the nation's best rush defense and seventh-best overall defense. The Illini have struggled this season, unable to capitalize on a win at Michigan State on Sept. 30 after losing the last two weeks at home to Indiana and Ohio.

Statistically the Illini are faring well in some categories, second in pass defense (174.3 yards a game) in the Big Ten and fifth in total defense (314.7 yards).

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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