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Sept. 4, 2010
Head Coach Joe Paterno Quotes
Can you talk about (Rob) Bolden's performance today? What made you decide to start him?
I thought overall he played a good, solid game. I think Youngstown did a good job. They are well coached. They made a couple mistakes. They made one big one obviously on the kickoff return. They made a couple of mistakes, but they are going to be okay. (Eric Wolford) is doing a good job. I think we did alright. I have to look at the tapes and I think we have to get into a tough football game. We have to make some big plays against different situations. So when we go through that, I will know better.
What was it about Bolden that you saw in camp?
All those (quarterbacks) are good prospects. I had to make a decision on one. He's got a good arm, he has some poise, and he did some things a little better than the other guys on more occasions. There were days where I came off the field not knowing who I wanted to play. I've been around long enough and I've been around a few kids in 60 years and he just seemed to be the right guy at the right time. But we'll see. It's still a long year.
Brett Brackett did not have a lot of catches last year. Was your game plan to get him more involved today?
We had some fullback problems all preseason. (Mike) Zordich has been hurt and didn't start practicing until Wednesday, and the same thing with (Joe) Suhey. We took (Glenn) Carson, who was a linebacker, and made him a fullback just this past week. We wanted to get the football to the (wide receivers) because we figured they would have some problem with the wideouts. I thought that they would take linebackers and move them out. So we put Brackett in a position to get his hands on the football. When we did throw the ball to him last year, he did a good job. He doesn't have quite the speed that some of the other kids on the squad have. He is sure handed and runs routes well. The quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. I was glad to see him do so well today.
We knew you wanted to play the other quarterbacks today. Were you disappointed that you weren't able to see them as much?
We are going to play it week-by-week, practice-by-practice and hopefully come up with the best combination for various situations and we will take it from there. Now whether that means we will have one quarterback all year or three alternating, I really don't know right now. We've got a tough football game coming up and we've got to have a great week of practice. We have to go down there and play against a team that may be as good a football team that we've played against since we played Miami in the Fiesta Bowl back in 1986. I have tried not to look at (Alabama) as much because I didn't want to move beyond Youngstown. We will see how it works out. The combination that might work best for us to be at least competitive with a team that is as sound as Alabama and as well coached as Alabama (may be) a whole different combination of people that we used today. I don't know. I will need to spend more time looking at Alabama.
You said special teams was a focus in the preseason. How do you think they performed today as a unit?
I think we obviously kicked off well. We ran back a couple kicks. I think overall, we did a pretty good job. I couldn't recall that punt in the first period, but I think we need to work on that stuff.
How much of an appraisal can you make on the offensive line?
I didn't think we did a great job up front. We got better as the game went on. We need to be just a little more aggressive. I think the linebackers for Youngstown did a really good job against the run. I think until they got tired they played really well against the run. They made good tackles and played off blocks well. We may have been a little better than I think we were on the offensive line but we certainly did not dominate them in the run game. They made us run the football and thank goodness (Bolden) did a pretty good job.
What was your strategy for staying in a base defense with the four and five receiver sets?
We played our basic defense against them and we didn't know exactly what to expect. I think they've got some people that can keep allowing them to run throw out screens. (Dominique Barnes) can run and we couldn't catch him when he turned the corner. We got a little careless on that baby. But other than that, we played a pretty good game defensively. But it was a basic defense, nothing special. We couldn't afford to do anything special with the fact that we didn't know what we were really going to see.
Collin Wagner hit from 48, 49 and 44 yards. How much of a boost was it for him and the team to hit from further distances?
I think that he tired a couple and just missed one or two. I think you have to go back to his game against LSU in lousy weather and he did a good job. So I think he came into this season with a little more confidence. I think he is stronger; he has worked hard to get a little bit stronger. We expected him to do well and I think he will. You know how kickers are. They shank one and then they start thinking too hard. (Anthony Fera), our kickoff guy, the first time in his career he kicked off went out of bounds on the 35-yard line. He came out of there and I said, "For crying out loud. You are a lot better than that." After that he was kicking them out of the endzone. Not that what I said had anything to do with it. He has been doing it in practice. It was his first ball game. You forget sometimes he was out there and he hadn't kicked in front of that many people before.
Paul Jones came in January. Do you feel that Bolden's timetable just accelerated in his ability to compete for the job?
Jones, as I have said five or six different times, has a lot of ability. He has had a little bit of a problem coming out of high school academically. I think the best thing for him right now is to get himself into shape academically. He is out there at practice everyday. We gave him some time with the upper classmen. He runs the scout team for us and I think someday he will be a good football player. I think he is a good prospect right now. The other kids I don't have to worry about academically. I think it made more sense to give them a shot at it. We are fortunate in a way that we have some kids that can play in that position. We are unfortunate that the timing of it is screwed up because we lost a kid in a transfer. We had zeroed in on someone else to be the backup guy to replace the kid we lost. It didn't work out that way because he transferred. We had to adjust and we ended up with some talented kids that have to learn. I don't know how else to put it.
Asst. Coach, Quarterbacks
What'd you think of Rob [Bolden] and the way he played today?
I think he did well. I think it was one of those things where the first couple passes he had his mind made up before he took the snap. But, as the game progressed, you could see him looking to more than one guy, and making some really good reads. Obviously, a little bigger of a challenge this week coming up.
Jay are you happy with how he responded after throwing the interception?
Yeah, it looked like the guy pulled [Derek] Moye down, but he was fine. He came over and I said 'Hey there's nothing you can do about it.' Then we got the ball back, and he went down and scored and got the field goal after that. I thought he handled the two-minute drive pretty well before the half. All in all, I thought he bounced back from that real well.
Can you describe how the decision was made to start the true freshman? Was it [Joe Paterno's] decision, was it your decision?
Joe led several discussions on it. He called us in and said 'Let's talk about our quarterbacks.' He talked to the offensive coaches and the defensive coaches about what they were seeing on their side of the ball, and basically it came down to everyone being in agreement. There were no issues there whatsoever. Joe went around the room and everyone had the same answer.
How much different is next week going to be for [Bolden]?
Let me put it this way. He got here in May, and when you come in and learn a new system at quarterback it's like learning a new language. We had to put that program together to help him learn. He learned Spanish this week. Next week, he has to learn Mandarin-Chinese, and be fluent in it on the road. [laughter]
What are your thoughts on the game?
Well, you know obviously we are disappointed. We had our opportunities and just didn't step up to the plate and execute like we needed to.
What about that screen play in the first half?
That is always a good football play when you get the ball in the hands of Dominique Barnes quickly and to give him the opportunity to run. Obviously, it shows that he has some pretty good speed against a defense that has good speed as well. It was good to finally get a touchdown on the board.
What did that touchdown mea
n? It sent a message that we were here to play. We felt ready to play all week. We believed we could have won that football game. We had the plays, the plays were there. We are proud of what our defense did. They held Royster to 45 yards or something; I think it was. Last time I was over here when I was at Illinois he had 139 yards and last year he had 200 against Illinois. We are taking some steps in the right direction. We need to eliminate some penalties and on fourth down we went for it and had a chance, had the first down, got the penalty and got it called back.
How frustrating is it to have the penalty problem?
Sometimes they are good calls and sometimes they are questionable. That is something about playing on the road. We will take a look at it on film and see which ones are legit and which ones are not. Everything is correctable. The most progress you will see is between game one and game two. Our kids know that we expect them to come out and play better.
On Chaz Powell's second half kickoff return for a touchdown.
I told our team at halftime that I had been at these games before and the first five minutes of the second half is when we have to step up. If we could have gotten them stopped, I felt good about our defense to go out there and getting them three and out. Unfortunately, we gave them the touchdown there at kickoff. That is my nightmare right there. Hopefully one of these days we can kick the ball through the endzone like (Penn State). That makes it a lot easier, doesn't it?
How was this for your first game as head coach?
It was obviously exciting. It was a great stadium, great atmosphere. It was everything I expected. I don't look at it as a big deal, except that I was glad to come out and represent Youngstown and our university. I enjoyed it and I love coaching and this team believes in us. They know we have the plays to be successful; we just need to execute a little better.
How can battling an atmosphere like this help you down the road?
I think at some point we are going to be on a road game and it is going to get tight and loud out there, hopefully a playoff game someday. We have been in hostile environments and now we have been here, so hopefully it will pay dividends.
What did you learn about your team today?
I was encouraged there at the end of the game. They kept fighting and that was encouraging to put that touchdown there on the board. Unfortunately, we just needed about four more.
What are your thoughts on (Robert) Bolden?
Good football player. I think they didn't get their running game going as well as they wanted to. We did pretty well against the run. They are a pretty good football team. He gave us some good routes and some stick routes and those are things that we have to get covered. He is a good football player and for his first game he did a good job.
What happened on the screen pass for a touchdown?
Well, over pursuit, bad angles, not keeping leverage on the ball. That's what happens on long plays like that. That shouldn't happen against that coverage, when we are playing two deep. That's how it happens on rocket screens; you have to be heads up on those. They ran it three or four other times after and didn't make a nickel on it.
How do you react to the players after a play like that?
I don't know if I can answer that, (laughing). You are mad because when someone beats you on a good play or makes a good play or they got you, you understand it. But to me, that was just basic fundamental football that you have to be able to make, if you're going to be good on defense.
Did you play most of the true freshmen that you intend to play?
No, I think we've made that decision. Unless there is an emergency, most of the freshmen you saw today are going to play; they have already used up their year.
Penn State Player Quotes
Talk about what you had working today with [Bolden] at quarterback?
I think Rob did a great job for his first start. He showed above and beyond what we expected with his poise and confidence. He did a great job reading the defense, finding the holes, and finding me. [laughter]
He forced a pass to you, then the next pass was intercepted. Talk about his resiliency on that series of plays.
He shook it off right away and was ready to go out on the next drive. You really have to commend him on how he handled it.
You're a captain of this team, you know what's coming up. Talk about what things worked from the offensive end that you can think about for Alabama?
I think the slow start you can attribute to not being together against another team, but I think we did a great job bouncing back from that slow start. We have a lot to do this week working on chemistry, working on timing, working on all that stuff. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, and we excited for the opportunity, but we really have to work hard and focus on the little things, and we'll see what happens.
Brett, you were just named a captain, describe what it was like to go out and have a career day in your first game as a captain?
Anytime you go out you want to do well and leave the field feeling good about yourself. Today I can say I feel good about what I did. You really have to commend [Bolden] though. He did a great job back there, showing poise, showing leadership, and taking what the defense gave him.
How'd it feel out there today?
It felt awesome. I've been waiting three years and to finally be able to get out there was an unreal feeling.
Did you do everything you had hoped for or were there any mistakes that you noticed?
There were definitely some small mistakes, just some little things to go back and work on. Honestly, it just felt great to be out there.
Nate [Stupar] was saying it seemed a little sluggish at the start of the game, did you feel the same way?
Yeah, I feel like it was a little different just because we didn't really know what to expect with their new offensive system. We were scouting film on Akron and Illinois, so I think it took a couple series just to get into the rhythm of things.
How do you prepare for Alabama next week?
Study film, take advantage of each rep in practice, and just focus as a team to get ready for them.
A lot of linebackers played today. Can everyone stay satisfied with the amount of playing time they are going to get?
Yeah, I think so. I think that Coach [Ron Vanderlinen] really wants to switch guys in and out and keep guys fresh. That's probably what he's going to be doing this year.
What were your impressions of Robert Bolden today?
He played great today. Everyone knew he was going to do it. He did it all preseason and he showed he was the best quarterback at the end of preseason camp. I'm surprised he put up as many points as he did.
You seemed to get the ball a lot in the flats, is that where you like to get the ball?
Yeah I'm comfortable with all kinds of plays. But they like to put me in open field so I can be shifty. Next weekend you'll see more of me.
Robert Bolden and Brett Brackett seemed to have a special connection out there, is that something you saw in camp?
That's been something we've seen since (Robert Bolden) came in the first session. He had a connection with all of us. But he really had a connection with Brett (Brackett) and he showed it today.
Can you talk a little about the weapons on offense?
We have an explosive wide receiver group. All of us are ready. Last year we were freshmen, and filled in. But now all of us are ready, we learned from (Graham) Zug and (Derek) Moye, and now we are ready. We are going to be an explosive group.
What did Bolden do to set himself apart at camp?
Just basically showing that (Robert Bolden) was the best quarterback. That he could see the routes and throw the passes at the right time.
Did he have the full support of the receivers?
All three of them did. All of them had an outstanding camp. He just had a step above the other quarterbacks.
Can you talk about having two people back on punt returners?
It's more comfortable with two people back there. We just watch each other's back. He watches my back and I watch his. We made that commitment. On the punt return he was right in front of me. Someone was going to come hit me and he made the block.
When you heard about Mark Ingram, will that change your game plan at all?
The funny thing is that no matter if he plays or not, they have Richardson back there. I think he is unbelievable. I have been watching him on film a lot. They are not going to miss a beat with Richardson in.
Can you talk about the defense today?
Our defense today played solid. I think we did a great job minus that one play. Everybody was communicating and reacting to the ball. It just felt like we needed to get used to playing with each other. Once we figured that out you could tell in the second half that we were really in sync.
Can you talk about the kick return?
It was a little windy today, so I made the "me-me" call. I caught the ball and saw the guys up front opened the hole for me. I just hit the sideline and once I beat the kicker I saw some guys had an angle on me so that's when I just turned it on.
Can you talk about having open field like that?
Basically your eyes just get real big. You just hit the sideline and get going, that's my job to get the ball into the end zone.
How important was it to come out of the locker room with that?
You know we came into halftime up, 16-7, and we get that opportunity. That was a boost for us. Just to come out and show them that you guys might have had us in the first half but our job is to come out there and put points on the board. It was just a great opportunity for us to come out there and show that we are the best at it in the country.
Can you talk a little about special teams improvements?
We worked really hard this offseason to boost up our special teams. We take time every day in practice to work on it. You saw today on kick return and punt returns. But it was key to tune up those areas.
Talk about switching back to offense?
It came down to it, we have some guys hurt. I played receiver last year and I was picking it up on defense. But, they came to me and said we are going to move you back because we have some guys hurt and see that you can make some plays for us. My job was that if they need me to do anything I'm willing to do it. I put the team first and myself second. I'm willing to play any position they need me to.
Talk about the play of the defense today.
The first couple series, we got the feeling of what they were going to throw at us. That's why we seemed real hesitant on some things. We just picked it all up and came out to play in the second half. We're really happy with our performance today.
Talk about the significance of everyone clicking and being on the same page after having a game under your belt.
We have a lot of young guys, a lot of talent. I think that's what the first half of this game was; getting a feel of what this young talent could do. They started getting confidence, so we all grew confidence and had a great second half.
Do you get confidence out of a win like this?
Definitely. I think we executed a lot on offense and picked up a lot on defense, so we're happy with all of our performances.
How much do you look forward to these marquee games like next week at Alabama?
It's awesome. It gets to show the world what you have. Going against the No. 1 ranked team in the country, you've got to be excited. You've got to be excited to show people what your team can do and show people who you are.
Talk about the true freshman quarterback. He throws the interception, bounces back and shows a lot after that.
He showed a lot of poise out there and played well. It's what we need. We're going to need strong quarterback play like that throughout the season.
What's his demeanor in the huddle?
He's calm. He's not the ra-ra guy. He's quiet. Sometimes it's even hard to hear him in the huddle, but he gets his point across and gets the play out to us.
How was the blocking in the run game today?
It wasn't bad. There were some plays that were working and some plays that weren't. It was tough to run against them in certain power plays. We blocked well, but they called some good defenses against certain run plays.
What do you have to do better before you take on maybe the best team in the country next week?
We need to come out stronger. We can't have the slow start. We really just need to come out strong and put some points on the board early so we don't put ourselves behind.
When the team started off down, did either you or Brett [Brackett] step up and say anything?
We didn't need to. It's not one of those games where things need to be done. You need to have certain confidence against teams you're playing. Even if you're down, it's early in the game so you stay composed.
What was going on that you were struggling a little bit early in the game?
I wouldn't necessarily say struggling. When you face a team in which you haven't seen their offense - they have a new coach a new staff - things are going to be new. You're not sure what you're seeing. It's some peoples' first games out there. Once guys are comfortable playing, hitting and running around, things start to come together and you start playing faster.
As a whole, how do you think you guys played today?
I think we played okay. Besides the early touchdown that we gave up, I think we played solid. Not necessarily lights out, but we can build off this going into next week.
How do you think your backers played behind you?
They played fast. When they had the chance, they made the play. They played very well today.
How would you assess the play of the offensive line today?
I think we did well considering we were kind of unsure what they were going to bring. We weren't sure what defenses or blitzes or stunts they were going to bring because we really didn't have any film to go off of. They have a new defensive coach and it's not like we had last week's game to go off of. We made some adjustments in the second half and picked up on their tendencies a little bit and did well.
You were a little banged up this week. How are you feeling?
I felt very good today. I just got back on Wednesday, so I'm getting used to the speed of the game again. It was a little shaky at first, but I felt good today and I feel like it's 100 percent.
What does this offensive line have to do for you guys to win next week at Alabama?
We've got to be sharp and play tough. Get a good week of practice in and get prepared.
Talk about how your confidence has grown since last year.
It's good to know you have been here before and you are able to execute under pressure. I think having an entire year under my belt, I feel a lot more confident and able to go out there and perform.
Personally, when you get those opportunities to perform you want to take advantage of them. How have you been working on that?
It feels good to go out there and make all of your kicks. I do not want to mess one up. If you miss a kick, you have to forget about it and bounce back. Today, fortunately, we were able to execute all of them.
Does it change your view of your performance when you are making all of your kicks from longer distances?
Anything inside 50 yards I expect myself to make; whether it is 25 yards or 48 yards. It is good to start the season off like this. The new snapper and holder did a great job so it is good to know they are going to be able to operate under pressure.
You have a big game against Alabama next week. How does this game prime you for that?
Just getting a little bit of the jitters out during the first game. We get to play against another opponent other than ourselves like we have been doing for the past five or six months. We are looking forward to it and we will get to work on it tomorrow.
How do you think Robert Bolden looked in his first game?
I thought he looked good as far as his first game. I cannot critique him that much, but he looked like he did very well.
You guys had a slow start in this first half. Do you think that comes normally during the first game?
I do not think it so is normal. We practice a lot so we should not play like that, but it happens. We made some adjustments during the second half and the offense made adjustments as well. I think it is the way you finish a game, not the way you start.
Do you come out of this game with some confidence defensively?
I think we played well and we did what we needed to do. We are going to watch film and get better and learn from this game so we can move on to the next game.
How was it to get that first tackle and know you are back?
I felt great. I was not thinking about the knee at all. I went out there and we know what we were doing. It is great to get out there and hit someone in an opposing jersey.
How do you feel about the rotation?
We all felt good. We know anyone can step in and get the job done. We have five or six guys who are in there. Everyone is encouraging each other, so we just have to play as best we can.
How do you think the defense played as a unit?
One play in the beginning we goofed up a bit and lost responsibility there, but overall I think we did alright. We came back and played hard the rest of the game. We played our responsibilities well.
How are you going to prepare for Alabama next week and what does it mean now that it is finally here?
It is a big game and we all have been looking forward to it as soon as we heard about it. We will prepare like we do for any other team. Well, now we can get to it. We have been waiting for this time so we can strictly focus on them. We did not want to look past Youngstown State. They are a good team. Now we can 100 percent focus on Alabama.
Youngstown State Quotes
How did it feel to play in front of a large crowd?
It felt great coming out and playing in front of 100,000 plus people. A new coach, it felt real good.
Was your team successful in executing what you worked on?
For the most part, no. The first half we were better at it. The second half we sort of broke down and we didn't execute. The game plan was pretty simple for us, but we didn't execute it.
Can you take any positives out of this game?
Yeah. We had a turnover- that was a plus. We created pressure at times. We missed maybe four or five tackles as a team, which is pretty good. There are some positive things.
How did you feel going into halftime with a close score?
We were excited. The defense knew it had to make a stop, but they (Penn State) had the big play and it changed the momentum of the game.
How did the penalties change the game?
Penalties killed us. We'll have them third and one, third and two and stop them: off sides. It just changes the whole mood of the team after a big penalty.
How did you feel when you scored the touchdown?
It was exciting, the first touchdown against a 1A team in a long time here. I was thinking 'don't get caught, don't get caught.' I saw on the jumbo-tron that they were right behind me and I was just thinking 'don't get caught.'
It was third and 10 on that touchdown play, did you know it was coming to you?
Yeah, we called the play. We worked on the play all camp. I didn't think it was going to open up like it did, but it opened up good. I got some good blocks down field and made the play.
How much progress did your team make?
Of course we want the win, but offensively we showed that we can move the ball and play against any good defense. Penn State's a top-25 team. We showed we can move the ball. Defensively, we stopped them. We did some good things.
Is there some encouraging things you take to your next game from this?
Offensively, I think we did a pretty good job, especially in the first half. We did a good job moving the ball. The defense stopped them, like I said. We did good things. We're going to be all right.
What can you take from playing in front of a crowd like this?
We're probably never going to play against another crowd as big as Penn State's. Everybody got all of their nerves out and all the jitters out. We all made mistakes, but they're all correctable. Next week, we're going to come out and try to get a 'W' at home.
What did you think of the third and 10 touchdown to Dominique Barnes?
It was very exciting. I'm out there and emotions are running high. The crowd is going crazy. On third down, we've got to execute. We've got to be sharper on third and 10, more focused. The play just worked out for us. I threw him the ball and Dom did the rest of the work.
What did you think from the moment Barnes caught the ball until he scored?
I was excited. It's one of those plays that doesn't always work for us. It's hit or miss. Today it worked for us. I was really excited to see him run all the way across the field and then all the way down the field while I'm trying to catch up with him. It's pretty fun. I thought for a little bit that Dom (Banes) was going to get caught, but he didn't.
What did it feel like to play a top-25 team on the road?
Exciting, definitely exciting and definitely something we had in the back of our minds. We really had the job and task at hand. We didn't just want to have the lead at the end of the quarter, we wanted to have the lead at the end of the game.
How do you gauge your team's progress with a new coach against a top-25 team on the road?
It's tough. When we come on the road, a top-25 team, Big Ten, Penn State and Joepa- everything- we've just got to come out, and we've got to play tough and see how tough we're doing, how tough we're playing and how mentally strong we are. When things don't go our way we need to come back and respond, respond to things that they may do. They may make a big play and how are we going to respond to that? I think response is a big thing with a new coach and a new team.
What did you see that you can build off of?
We executed pretty well for the most part. We had some missed assignments. I had some bad reads. Penalties you can always help. I think penalties really hurt us today. We had some third and short, and some fourth and short plays that we need to convert. Penalties aren't helping us, or missed assignments. When it's crunch time, we need to focus and be able to execute.