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Sept. 5, 2009
Penn State vs. Akron
September 5, 2009
Q: What didn't you do in the second half that you did well in the first half?
A: We had a terrible second half. We got soft; we thought the game was over. We weren't very sharp. There are a lot of young kids and they thought the thing was over at halftime. We just did not have any consistency in the second half. I was disappointed with the second half, but we still won the football game.
Q: Were you satisfied with the timing of the passing game?
A: I thought it was very good. Some of the guys that we have haven't seen much of made a couple big-time catches. We've got a little different type of passing game because of the size of the new receivers. Some catches that were made, we might not have been able to make last year because those guys didn't have the long arms and the reach that some of these kids have. Overall, it was pretty good. It's been a tough preseason as I try to tell everybody. We only had one week to ourselves: one week of spring practice, one week of summer school, one week free then the next week, we had classes. I think overall, our kids did a pretty good job.
Q: Were you hoping to get [Kevin] Newsome in a little sooner or was that about what you were planning?
A: I don't plan those kinds of things because you never know what's going to happen. I had absolutely no plans to get him in, but if the opportunity presented itself, I was going to get him in. I could second guess myself; I might say "hey, maybe we should've gotten him in a series earlier." He got his nose wet and that's what you hope you can get done anyway.
Q: Did jogging onto the field mean anything special to you after last year?
A: I don't think I could beat that kid from Jamaica. I don't think he's worried about me. I just wanted to see if I could do it. I've been reluctant to do much running since it's been less than a year since they replaced the hip. The doctors have been really great. They've done a super job for us. I was glad I could come out, but I hope as the season goes on, I'll be a little better.
Q: What were your impressions on Collin Wagner kicking the football?
A: I don't think he had a good day. He's better than that. Maybe it was his first time out there. He's been much better in practice. I have high hopes for him; he has a chance to be really good. He has a little better leg than Kelly had. He's got to go out there and have confidence in himself. He was punching at the ball. We'll see what happens. Again, that was the first time it's really been his game.
Q: Could you evaluate the running game? Would you have rather run the ball in the second half to see what you had?
A: I would have rather run it, but in all fairness, they had the 3-5 [defense] and put an awful lot of people around the football. They made it tough to run. We could've thrown the ball more. In fact, I was arguing with the guys upstairs to throw a couple more passes. The line coaches wanted to work on the running game. When I saw what they were doing defensively, we had to throw it. We'll have to be a better running team.
Q: Can you tell us about Bowman's injury?
A: I don't have the slightest idea. He practiced the last couple days; I thought he was 100 percent. In fact, I asked someone what was bothering him, and they said his leg was bothering him.
Q: How do you feel that [sophomore Nathan] Stupar played?
A: It's hard to say how he played because I'm watching the whole football game. I saw Stupar running a couple plays. I don't watch one guy; I try to get a feel for the flow. I watch the line of scrimmage to see if we're beating the other guys across the line. I take turns looking at the secondary to see if they're reacting pretty well. I try to just watch different things because you can't watch it all. It's impossible to watch it all, so I try to make sure I watch every facet of the game. I saw Stupar do a couple good things, but he did more than I saw. Maybe he made some mistakes; I don't know. But if you held me to it, I think he played a pretty good game.
Q: One of your true freshmen, Devon Smith played a lot today. He was in the game early. What did you see from him in camp that made you want to use him?
A: He's got great speed and can catch the ball. As he gets in there and gets a little better feel, he'll be able to make some big plays for us. When he gets a step on you, he's tough to catch.
Q: There have been years when new wide receivers, and even an established quarterback didn't look this polished together. Did Daryll work with these guys an inordinate amount in similar situations in the offseason?
A: I think number one, these guys were all around. It isn't like Zug or Moye or Brackett haven't been around. They had worked with Daryll, so there's a little jump start on that. I think the point you're making is a good one. Ordinarily, with a new set of receivers, it takes a while. Is the quarterback getting the feel for the wideout? People don't realize how sophisticated the timing is. If a quarterback gets a good feel for the wideout, he can just about throw it at any time. He knows he can get rid of the football "right now." I think they did a good job today on the timing. I thought we were pretty good; better than I thought we would be.
Q: Is that a credit to Daryll in his offseason work or not?
A: I'm sure they did offseason work. They better have done some things in the offseason.
Q: Could you get a feel for how Sean Lee performed today?
A: It's more than just his athletic ability. It's his leadership; his poise. I think Lee played pretty well. I wouldn't watch Lee. I would watch Stupar more than I would watch Lee. When we played [Bani] Gbadyu, I watched Gbadyu. Those kind of unknown qualities. It's like the secondary; I didn't watch all four of them the same way I watched one or two of them. You try to pick your spots.
Q: What did you think about Moye's first start today?
A: I think he did well. I don't think we took advantage of a couple things that Akron was doing in the secondary in order to stop the run. I think Moye knew what was going on and did well overall.
Q: Could you comment on how you thought the secondary played today?
A: I thought they did well in the first half, but their reaction to the ball wasn't as good in the second half. We didn't tackle as well in the second half. We just seemed to come out flat, but I think the first half, they played well. We played A.J. Wallace, which I was not going to do, but A.J. did a good job in summer school.
Q: Was there a reason Newsome didn't get in earlier?
A: We weren't playing well. We were flopping around all over the place, so I didn't want to put him in there where he couldn't have success. I wasn't going to stick him in there when the offensive line wasn't blocking very well. We weren't doing some things well enough that I would want him to get in there and have a setback. You like the kid to go in and have success if you can. I think he had enough success to feel pretty good about himself.
Q: Given that, does he need to get some more snaps for these first few nonconference games?
A: I don't know. You don't build a football team trying to keep this guy happy and that guy happy. If it's appropriate, he will go in, but I don't have any plans for him to get in a play next week. Obviously, Syracuse is a lot better football team than people thought they were. They gave Minnesota a tough time and Minnesota thought they were going to be good this year. They have a lot of people back.
Q: Comment on your offensive line today. You talked about the second half, that you didn't think they blocked well.
A: I thought we were very ordinary in the running game. We didn't get the ball to the tight ends enough. As part of the second guess thing for me, I would've liked to have been able to get the tight ends more involved. Quarless got a little banged up and didn't play much in the second half. Shuler's been hurt; he hasn't practiced much. Overall, I thought it was alright. They weren't dominant, and then again, without making excuses for them, we saw some things in there we had not really practiced a lot against. They did some stunts in there, they had eight guys around the ball a lot and seven guys around the football. They had the 3-4 and then they dropped a safety around there early in the game. They made a couple tackles on the bubble screen and a couple other things. Some of that stuff, we really hadn't spent much time with. We didn't know what we were going to get. But overall, it was good.
Q: How do you think Daryll (Clark) did today working with different receivers?
A: I think he did pretty good. There was one or two passes where he was trying to aim too much. I told him not to panic and just relax and throw. He did a very good job though most of the game. There was just a handful of passes that we will look at and make changes to. Overall, I think the receivers stepped up big.
Q: Can you talk about his chemistry with Moye?
A: Yeah, they have worked together for a couple of years now. It's not really that new in terms of them working together. The way they played most of the coverage, we knew Moye would probably have a big day. We felt as though he would have a pretty good day.
Q: Does throwing to a guy that is six foot and then throwing to a guy five inches taller make your game much more different?
A: Absolutely. It makes it easier. Everybody is always going to overthrow somebody sometime. The one I got Daryll was the reverse pass where he just floated it up there. He knew it. Other than that, I thought he played well for his first game. You have to give Akron some credit because they did some things that were different from last year. We tried to anticipate some of those things in practice. With the opening game, you have to practice for everything because you don't know what you are going to get. We weren't as sharp as we wanted to be in the second half, but I think that had to do with our intensity too.
Q: How nice was it to return to the field today?
A: It felt great. There is nothing like being out on that field, especially in Beaver Stadium with 110,000 fans. It felt just great running out there.
Q: Who was more excited, you or Sean Lee?
A: We probably both felt the same level of excitement. We both spent a lot of time working ourselves to get back into football shape. It's just a feeling of excitement to get back out there.
Q: How did you feel on the field? Were you hesitant at all?
A: I felt a lot more rusty this time around than I did last season. I don't what from or what would have caused it, but I didn't feel myself 100 percent out there. But with practice and mental reps this week, I will be better and ready for next week.
#54 Matt Stankiewitch
Q: How did it go as the game went on and you were just getting going and playing?
A: Every play I get more comfortable. You start gelling as a group and everything. As the game goes on you gel more.
Q: Does it gauge how much you guys have worked especially when going up against a different defensive unit like this?
A: Yeah, because this is the first game and we don't know exactly what to do because they don't have many returning starters up front. So we didn't know exactly what they were going to do with formations and things, making it more of a challenge.
Q: Is it hard to gauge the progress you guys as a line have made going up against this unit?
A: Yeah, it's hard, but at the same time, facing Jared Odrick and Ollie Ogbu in practice really gets you ready for games every week. So yeah, we can gauge our progress.
#71 Devon Still
Q: How do you evaluate the play of the defense today, especially not giving up any first downs in the first half?
A: I think we did really well. We set our goals to get four sacks today and not have a 100-yard rusher. We achieved our goals and I think we did really well.
Q: How was it to have Jerome Hayes back out on the field today?
A: I loved it. Both of us being out there after we both had terrible injuries was a good feeling.
Q: Do you guys feel like you took a step in the right direction today?
A: I think we got off to a very good start today. But I know there is very much more we can improve on as far as competition. But overall I think we did very well today.
#13 Andrew Dailey
Q: Did you know the punt fake was called or was it something that was called at the line when you see their formation?
A: Coach Larry Johnson was confident that the field was going to open up. It was fourth-and-11 and said 'I'm confident in you guys and that it's going to work out, so let's take a shot at it,' so we did.
Q: How often do you practice that play?
A: We'll have a fake in there and practice it every week.
Q: Were you excited when it was called, nervous or excited?
A: I was excited because I knew it was going to work and be a big play to help out the team. It was shocking [when the field opened up], I didn't know what to do with myself. I told myself 'get 11 yards and go from there.'
Q: Were you tired after 47 yards?
A: No, I was OK. I was trying to score, but I made sure that I got the first down.
Q: Was that and the interception more than you asked for going into today?
A: Absolutely, the interception just put more confidence from the coaches in my ability to play, and I'm excited to play that nickel position.
#17 Daryll Clark
Q: How's your head?
A: That wasn't even a hard hit. The chinstrap was extra loose and it was a little sweaty. [Andrew Jones] was making a lot of noise and he didn't even hit me up there. I looked at him and I was thinking, 'Are you serious?'
Q: What was he saying?
A: He was just saying like, 'yeah, yeah' and the defense just rallied around him as if he made a big, big play. I could've been ignorant and pointed at the scoreboard, but I'm not like that.
Q: Do you like the new receivers?
A: I thought those guys came out and made plays for us and proved to some people they can play. Derek Moye definitely came out and played and I was proud of Chaz [Powell] and Graham Zug. Those guys did a great job of getting open and we're really proud of them. We were able to move the chains with those boys making the plays.
Q: What are the positives you take from this game and what do you have to work on going into week two?
A: The positives are that we caught the ball really well and pass protected really well. We had a couple misses run blocking, myself making a couple bad reads and having a pick early in the game on a very stupid throw. You tally all that up and you see that in film and make the corrections next week. We have to come back next week way better. The first half we came out on fire, and the second half we came out the flattest we could ever be, and we can't do that.
#5 Graham Zug
Sr./Jr., Wide Receiver
Q: Does today make a statement after last year's graduation?
A: Yeah, I think it does. We surprised some people, we're here and we're ready to play. We're going to do our best.
Q: It seems like you've been playing with Daryll Clark forever, the timing and rhythm was correct.
A: I think it was the most important part of the day, he was on time with his throws and we were on time with our routes.
Q: Does it feel even better when you're out there and it's 31-0 and the defense is doing well?
A: Oh, it's always a good feeling, and it's good for them because you know there out there working hard. We're doing the same, it's a give-and-take relationship.
Q: How important is it when Coach Paterno makes calls for you guys to catch the ball?
A: It's a lot easier for the quarterback and for the offense. If there's a scramble and Daryll [Clark] has to put one up and go long, we can go up and get it and make the play for him.
#34 Nate Stupar
Q: Did you start on one side and have to switch back to the other?
A: At the end of the game, I went to Sam and Josh [Hull] went to the backers in nickel so I switched sides and Sean [Lee] just sat out there.
Q: How was it having two kids from Centre County out there playing linebacker?
A: I know it's kind of weird having two homeboys starting [at] linebacker.
Q: You knew you were going to get some time today, how was it when Navarro Bowman came out of the game and you're playing every play?
A: I was excited, I've always wanted time to show what I can do. I think that was a time to show the coaches what I can do.
Q: What was the mood at halftime?
A: We were feeling good, we were running making tackles. The defensive line-Jared Odrick-was just dominating the line. We were just playing well. You're going to get mistakes, but we rallied through that and kept playing.
Penn State vs. Akron
September 5, 2009
#20 Mike Thomas
Q: Why was Clark so successful in the first half?
A: He is a competitor and is going to do anything to get his team to come away with a "W," which you saw today. He got outside a few times and made a couple big plays. We just come up short today, but it is something we can learn from ad get better each day.
Q: Your defense shut them down in the second half, did that help you guys out?
A. That's big. Yeah that is progress right there in its own. It was 31-7, first half and that is a lot of progress and we are just going to build off of that.
#11 Chris Jacquemain
Q. Was their defense as brutal as you expected?
A. I think they are the best defense we are going to see all year. They were good upfront and they put a lot of pressure on me, which I expected. We couldn't handle it at times.
Q. Was the second half consolation for the first half?
A. I was happy with the way we came out in the second half and played. We told the guys at half time that we didn't want to lay down for the guys and didn't want to quit. We wanted to keep fighting and whatever happens out there happens. I think we moved the ball pretty well. I was happy with the way we came out and played, we didn't lay down for them and we kept fighting so I was happy.
Q. Can you talk about the touchdown pass to Bowser and how you were able to move the ball better in the second half?
A. We went to max protections. Their d-line and linebackers were getting at me real quick, so we went to max protections. In the touchdown pass they were playing a lot of cover-two throughout the game and we had a corner-post rout where Bowser faked to the corner and went to the post. With the cover-two the middle is wide open so that is what we had called on that play. We got six off of it, which was good. We went to the mass protections in the second half, which slowed down the rush and I was able to get some time back there to throw.
Q. How do you analyze the Penn State secondary?
A. I think they did alright today. I knew that they were all new starters and I felt that they didn't get much work in the first half with the pressure that we had. In the second half I felt that we got to them a little bit because I had more time back there to throw to get the ball to my wide receivers. I think we just tested them more in the second half.
AKRON HEAD COACH J.D. BROOKHART POSTGAME QUOTES
Defensively, I am really proud of their effort. I think that they've got to understand that they have to let it loose and make some plays because we were in position and we didn't make some plays defensively. Otherwise, I would have thought that we played pretty decent. Offensively, very disappointed, kind of collectively, with the way we came out and that is not to discredit (Penn State). (Penn State) did some good things, they had a good plan and they have great players and the adjustments just needed to happen better. Again, it was just a lot of #91 (Jared Odrick), but I thought the kids continued to fight. I think some things got reveled that we have to get cleaned up. For example, Chris' (Jacquermain) run at the two-yard line where we got stuffed on the fourth down call, the receiver should have been on the other side and it either should have been a walk-in for the QB or a throw out to an open receiver. That's not handling things well under pressure, so those things we have got to clean up. I think that the run game piece was disappointing because we had an opportunity to run the ball to do some things, especially with what they were doing in the first half and we didn't take advantage of that and that's on us as a staff and collectively as a group. The defense played extremely hard. They were put in some awful situations with short fields and the fake punt and responded pretty well. I think the (score) was reflective of how they played today, certainly how the offense played. We need to make a huge improvement in week two, which I think we will.
Q: First half, second half, is there a reason for the disparity, 31-0 vs. 0-7?
A: I think, obviously, we kept our defensive off the field (in the second half), certainly helps you when you didn't put your defense in horrible situations, we were making (Penn State) drive a long field, that's what you want to do. Obviously, the offense putting a little pressure on them, getting points and almost getting points that makes them drive 98 yards, it's a hard thing to do. It just can't be a tale of two halves, that's for sure.
Q: Penn State is going to be the best team that you will face this year, how good are they?
A: They are who they are and who they should be. They are a Top 10 football team and they have a great quarterback and a great running back and I think you can add to that some big receivers who make plays. I get on our guys that we have to make plays defensively, but those kids made some great plays too and (Daryll) Clark put them in a position to do so.
Q: You said the Penn State receivers are a little young in your press conference last week, were you surprised at them making plays today?
A: No, I wasn't surprised. They are just young, that doesn't mean that they are not talented. There's talent through the classes at Penn State, as there should be. I just didn't know what to expect, I just hadn't seen them play a lot. I just knew they hadn't played a lot of football. They are very good football players.
Q: Why was Daryll Clark so successful in the first half?
A: I thought up front, we didn't blitz a ton. I thought he had a lot of time to make throws. It's pretty easy to sit back there and sort things when you have four or five seconds.
Q: What's going on with Andre Jones?
A: I think we need help in the secondary and with the emergence of Jeremy LaFrance, it allowed us to play a better "22". Andre (Jones), after this week, will get some more work offensively. I think we are fairly set with keeping him on the defensive side of the ball. The way we feel right now is that we have seven or eight receivers that can play.