Penn State wideouts play no-respect card

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State wide receivers Derek Moye and Chaz Powell were relaxing in their room Tuesday night when the subject came up again.

The feeling of disrespect tends to fester, and despite three victories this season, both Moye and Powell still sense it.

"Last year, the year before, we were just sitting on the sideline watching these games," Moye said. "Now we're going to be in the spotlight. All eyes are going to be on us and we're happy to be in this position. We're going to go out and show everybody what we can do."

Penn State had turnover at several positions following its Rose Bowl run in 2008, and no spot lost more production than wide receiver. Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood all started for most of their careers and combined for 132 receptions, 1,932 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

Throw in Williams' production as a rusher and a return man, and it was obvious that Penn State had a major void to fill. Receivers like Moye, Powell, Graham Zug and Brett Brackett had appeared in plenty of games, but their numbers paled in comparison to the big three.

So how have the Rodney Dangerfields of Happy Valley fared so far? Pretty well. Penn State has been forced to throw the ball a lot in its first three games, and Moye, Powell and Zug all have reached double-digits in receptions. They have combined for 37 catches, 474 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

But doubts still linger. Penn State hasn't played anyone so far, and the wideouts are still unproven on the big stage, which arrives Saturday night against Iowa (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).

"There's always people who say the competition wasn't there," Moye said. "But this week and in weeks to come, we'll prove what we did the first few weeks wasn't a fluke."

The outside questions brought Penn State's wideouts even closer together during the offseason. Moye and his teammates often talked about their perception and looked forward to changing it when the games began.

"We're just going out there to prove every day that we're here for a reason," Moye said. "We weren't just some guys that were picked up off the street or anything like that. We deserve to be recognized as good receivers that play for Penn State."

Veteran quarterback Daryll Clark has eased the wideouts' transition to featured roles. Clark ranked second in the Big Ten in pass efficiency last year (143.4) and continued to make strides this fall, completing 67 percent of his throws for 760 yards and eight touchdowns.

The receivers also have tried to help their quarterback by providing bigger targets. While Butler, Williams and Norwood all were 6-feet or shorter, Moye stands 6-5, while Zug is 6-2 and Powell 6-1.

"Daryll, that’s one thing we told him, he always likes to make the perfect pass, but if we have 1-on-1 coverage, just put the ball up and we’ll make a play for you," Moye said. "Let us use our height to our advantage.”

Penn State's receiving corps will be tested by Iowa, which boasts a talented secondary. Junior Amari Spievey is regarded as the Big Ten's top cornerback, while safety Tyler Sash leads the Big Ten in interceptions (4) after sharing the league lead last year with teammate Pat Angerer.

"It's great when you're facing good competition," Moye said. "A lot of people are still doubting us, and if we go out there this week and prove that against a good secondary like Iowa, it might take away a lot of the doubters."