Jan. 2, 2012
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TODD BELL: We'll have an opening statement from Coach Bradley, take questions for Justin, then we'll release Justin and you can ask questions of Coach Bradley.Questions for Justin.
COACH BRADLEY: We were trying to survive the first quarter. We didn't survive it. The other things, two big plays, we had them trapped in the first series in the scramble, he jumped up on us. Two big plays after that, the long touchdown passes kind of put us in a bind. We knew he was going to get his yards. Excellent passing attack. Obviously he got a lot of yards today.
Those two big passes are the ones that killed us.
We couldn't get anything going offensively. We couldn't run the ball early in the game in the first quarter to keep us off the field, which was one of our goals, so that was disappointing. I thought we'd be able to do that in the first quarter to at least slow them down a little bit. Didn't happen today.
TODD BELL: Questions first for Justin Brown.
Q. Did you feel like the distractions got to you at all this week?
Justin Brown: I don't think the distractions got to us at all. We were used to it from the whole season and whatnot.
The coaches did a great job of preparing us, focusing on the task at hand, so I wouldn't say distraction was a problem.
Q. From a personal standpoint, last year you had a rough go. How does it feel to bounce back and put up some good numbers?
Justin Brown: First, you'd rather take a win over everything. I guess I did okay. But, I mean, you got to look at the film and see some things you didn't do quite as well.
I didn't have that good of a game last year in the Outback Bowl. That was one of the things I was thinking about coming into this bowl game.
Q. Talk about what their defense was doing to keep you off balance.
Justin Brown: They're a good defense. I think people underestimated them a little bit. They have some pretty good athletes. I think they just did a pretty good job overall.
Q. Did Rob seem rattled in the huddle at all today? How do you think he handled the situation?
Justin Brown: I don't think he seemed rattled. He maintained his composure in the huddle, on the sideline, talking to him, talking about coverages. He didn't seem rattled at all.
TODD BELL: We'll turn Justin loose here. We'll proceed now with questions for Coach Bradley.
COACH BRADLEY: Drew Astorino was to be up here with us. He suffered a concussion during the game and I don't think he felt right coming in and talking today.
Q. When you were walking off the field a few minutes ago, did it feel like an end of an era for Penn State?
COACH BRADLEY: Well, obviously we're going to have a new football coach next year here for sure, whoever that may be. So in that regard, yes.
I was disappointed in the way we played. I thought we'd play better today, I thought we'd play better defensively. I didn't anticipate us giving up those big plays.
But it's going to be obviously new around here for a lot of people.
Q. You said you're going to have a new football coach for sure. Why are you convinced it's not going to be you?
COACH BRADLEY: I didn't say it wasn't going to be me. Can't give you guys all the secrets.
I don't know who it's going to be. I said this before. Dr. Joyner's committee are going to make this decision. I don't have a date when it's going to be. He hasn't set a time frame exactly when it's going to happen. I also said I had the opportunity to go speak to the committee. I had an opportunity to plead my case.
I think one thing different for me coaching now is I turned the defense over to Johnson and Vandy. I didn't think it was fair chirping in when I wasn't sitting in every meeting and going over every detail. I didn't think that was fair to them.
On offense, we just tried to get better at the things we're doing. Next year we'll have a totally different look on offense one way or the other.
I'm not sure what their timetable is going to be. Obviously I have some concerns because of recruiting. We can go on the road Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, which we're going to do.
I told you I'm going to work till the very end until they tell me I'm no longer needed. That's what Penn State paying me to do and what is in my heart that I am going to do because I love this university and I love the people.
Q. What did they do defensively to keep you guys off balance?
COACH BRADLEY: Well, I don't know if it was anything they did as much as just the backside linebacker kept making plays. We weren't cutting him off. It took us so long to get going, to get in the flow of things.
I thought we could get this thing coming out of halftime, just into one score, we could maybe have a shot at them. We just couldn't sustain any drive. I was surprised. How many, three interceptions today? You can't turn the ball over against Case Keenum.
That was another thing we didn't want to do. Three 15 yard penalties on kickoff returns. Playing a team like this, you can't lose field position like that. All the things you can't do to lose a game, we did today.
Q. On the first series, they hit those on third and long.
COACH BRADLEY: The first one was really frustrating. If we just stayed back in coverage, we're off the field. I elected to kick to show confidence in the defense. If we won the toss, I thought long about it. I thought our defense would set the tone a little bit and get them off. If you get off on the first third down, might be a different game. Just stay back. He's not going to make it to the sticks anyway. So that's a fundamental mistake.
I think the 75 yards (completion) just broke our back. Drew kind of patted his feet a little bit, kids started to scramble. He started to settle down. Need to get depth there. That's a common, once again, fundamental thing. It's not like they beat you on anything except just fundamentals.
You know the way we play defense around here the last 10, 11 years: keep the ball in front of you, leveraging numbers, those things. We've been fundamentally sound.
I don't think we tackled particularly well today. You anticipate that a little bit in a bowl game. You're a little bit out of sync. You haven't had the opportunity to do a lot of tackling practice against each other. Obviously their offense, they threw a lot more bubble screens than we do, so the perimeter game was going to be totally different.
Q. Did you consider going more to a three man front and drop more people into coverage?
COACH BRADLEY: We talked about it. That's not our style. They had some what we call penny looks. We didn't get into a whole bunch of it today.
Once again, I don't stick my two cents into that. I just don't think that's fair to chime in when you haven't been sitting there for the last couple weeks putting it all together. So I deliberately stayed out of it.
Q. What did you tell your team? Did the finality of it all sink in after the game?
COACH BRADLEY: I told my team very simply, I said I wanted to thank them for all the things that they did for all of us, for what they had been through. I told them we still had a lot to be thankful for. Things didn't go our way today. I told them in life it doesn't always work out that way. I said, it's not what happens to you, it's how you react to it.
I thought they had a tough go for four weeks, 50 some days, whatever it was, unique situation, obviously different. But I told them to stick together as a team. They're always going to be teammates for the rest of their life, be proud of what they did accomplish. I said, Hey, we have a lot to be thankful for, and we said a prayer.
Q. There were a few throws that Rob didn't make that maybe Matt makes. If he plays, is there a different outcome in this game?
COACH BRADLEY: I can't answer that question. I really can't. You got the cards you had. That's what we went into the game with. I think we could have helped Rob today. The one throw to Moye was as good as you could throw. We didn't make plays when we had to.
Offensively we've been like that now for the last couple plays. We can't make the big plays when we have to. That's a killer.
Q. Did you think about going to (Shane) McGregor at all?
COACH BRADLEY: You know, I did. I thought about giving him a shot two minutes at the end. Great young man. Hard working. He looked awful good in practice.
I thought it wouldn't be the right thing to do to Rob for next season.
Q. You talked about surviving the first quarter. How you would grade your team on that?
COACH BRADLEY: F. I would give us an F. That's the one thing about bowl games, you have to get caught up to speed as fast as you can. You can't duplicate because you haven't played in five weeks. You're just not used to it.
That's the one thing that always worries you. You got to get caught up, and we didn't today. Since I've been in all those bowl games here, I know the games we win it's because we come out first quarter at least even or close to it.
Q. I know you mentioned you're going to be going out recruiting as of Wednesday. If you're not going to be the guy here, how long are you willing to afford to wait given you said you have other opportunities out there for you?
COACH BRADLEY: 'Til the absolute end. That's what they're going to pay me to do. That's what I'm going to do. I told you before, they can do what they want to me. I want these players to know those coaches, those managers, those trainers, everybody there fought till the end.
10 years from now, they're going to say, Hey, maybe it didn't work out for them. We don't know that yet. I want them to respect every one of us. All those guys weren't looking for jobs. They weren't running around doing other things. They were busting their tails to help this team win this bowl game.
I'm proud of them and I'm thankful for the efforts they gave me. Nothing changed me. They worked like dogs the whole way through this things. What they do from here, that's their decision.
Q. Tom, I know you don't make excuses and Devon doesn't make excuses. Can you address his health?
COACH BRADLEY: He had turf toe today. He's been limping. Even before the game today he was limping. It was painful. He wasn't himself. I guess if you asked him, he's maybe playing half speed. He wasn't at all a factor in today's game, which usually he's going to give us some pressure in there. I knew he was in that situation before we got there.
It's not an excuse, it's just where he was.
No. 47 - Jordan Hill, Defensive Tackle, Junior
On the pace of play
"I said Northwestern was the closest to how Houston would play, but Northwestern wasn't even close. They were snapping the ball before the chains were even set. It was hard to keep our composure; it was very frustrating. When you pass the ball that many times and are that efficient...that's hard to stop.
On the play of the PSU defensive line
"I wasn't even a factor. That was the most frustrating thing about it. As a defensive line, we were getting through. I got through twice, but didn't have a chance because the ball was coming out so fast.
On the Penn State postgame locker room atmosphere
"He (Tom Bradley) told us it was an honor coaching us through everything that's happened this year. We said our prayers and then we just said our goodbyes to our seniors. We just felt bad because the seniors couldn't go out with a 'W.' With either a win or a loss, there were going to be some tears, but the loss just made it worse.
On the coaching situation
"Hopefully, we find out something this week. I know a lot of guys have decisions to make. I have one to make. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but hopefully we find out something this week to make the best decision we can."
On the finality of the season
"The main thing about today was that it was sad to seniors go out with a loss. They were an extraordinary group of leaders. Not just the captains, but every senior. They took charge."
No. 34 - Nate Stupar, Outside linebacker, Senior
On Case Keenum
"Keenum did an excellent job today. He picked us apart in areas. We were trying to figure out what coverages worked against him. They had a good game plan and made some plays where they didn't. We did a decent job the second half, forcing field goals. We just didn't execute in key situations.
On the last two months
"I'm a Penn Stater through and through. I bleed blue and white and I live in State College (Pa.). It's not like it's going anywhere."
On the PSU postgame locker room atmosphere
"It was pretty quiet. We kept our heads up though. We knew we played hard and played with our hearts."
On Case Keenum
"He has a good arm. He can put the ball where he wants and he's very smart. I would have to say as a pocket passer, NFL-style quarterback, he's the best quarterback I've ever faced."
Jay Paterno, Quarterbacks Coach
On Rob Bolden's composure
"He's a very intense competitor. He was anxious to get back in the game and keep making plays. He never got down until the very end."
On the last two months
"The last two and a half months, we've been to hell and back in a lot of ways, moreso for our kids. They did nothing. There's so many people that you feel for in this situation...the victims. I think the one good that's come out of it is the character of the players on our team has really shown to everybody. You hope that justice is done in the end, but sometimes you got to endorse some things that are very difficult in order for the right things to happen."
On coaching in a bowl game without his father
"It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy going to practice without him. It wasn't easy on game day without him because you think about him. I always came to work knowing we had an ace up our sleeve in Joe because of all of his experience, so yeah it was tough. But, he was the first one to say, "Go out and do your job. Quit worrying about me."