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A: You know, I would've bet that was going to be the first question (laughter). I thought you'd have more ingenuity. I don't know. Quarless and Harriott did something that really bothered me in the sense that they were out after hours when we were in camp. A preseason issue is a little different and it took a lot of discipline on the part of the squad because a lot of them were in school, including Quarless and Harriott, and they didn't really have a strict curfew, but we had told them when they had to be in. Right now, neither one of them will play this week and they may not play for three or four weeks, I don't know yet. I had told them both to get going and some of the kids on the team got together with the captains, (Terrell) Golden, (Dan) Connor and (Anthony) Morelli. They elected them captains; I didn't appoint them as was suggested by some people. They were elected. They said (to me), 'how about we let them back on and you do some other things to them,' and I said, 'well, okay.' So that's where we are. They're practicing with us, but they're not going to play for us (this week).
Q: Could you update us on Abe Koroma's condition and how does that affect your defensive line?
A: Let me do that in reverse order. Yes, it does hurt us defense-wise. I think Abe is going to be a really good football player. In fact, I've debated, we've had some heated discussions in staff meetings as to whether we should give him a chance to be a more prominent player on the offensive side of the ball, but the defensive people felt they really needed him over there on defense. His loss is a significant one to us when you tie that in with (Devon) Still, who was one of the most promising freshmen we have. He (Koroma) had an operation last week and for me to tell you I know exactly how long he's going to be out, I don't know. He had a broken bone, they put a pin in it, he's in a cast, he's got crutches right now. I would think you're talking two, four, five weeks anyway. We can't redshirt him; we did that last year. So we're going to try and get him ready to play as soon as we can, but he won't be ready (this week). Again, I think that's a medical decision that has to be made. Off the top of my head, I'd say a month.
Q: How are you feeling now and do you plan to be on the sidelines on Saturday?
A: I plan to be on the sidelines unless someone runs over me tomorrow. I took Quarless, who we just talked about earlier, when we had a little substitution practice the other day, and I said to to him, 'you're not going to be in the ballgame, but I want you to walk right by me and take all the hits.' (Quarless ran into Paterno during a 2006 practice). I'm moving well enough to where I don't have to worry about it. I think everybody ought to just kind of play down my injury and worry more about the football team and our ability to handle an FIU team that's going to come up here with fire in their eyes and a lot of things that we really don't know what to expect and go from there. But I'm fine.
Q: Do you worry about how when there are incidents like Quarless and Harriott, and how it affects the program's national image?
A: We've had so many people that have gone through this program that are just good people and the kids, the incidents that we've had are really not, well, I have to be careful of what I say because sometimes you guys interpret what I say as something different than what I said. I think we have a bunch of good kids, I really do. Some are immature, some have done a couple of things that maybe none of us would approve of. Whether their actions deserve the kind of attention that's been given to them or not, that's up to you people. Obviously, I have some thoughts about that. I think we've got a good bunch of kids and I think they'll prove that when they get out to the stadium and clean it up and the way they behave and the way they play on the field, play with a little class and do some things that I think is apropos. Penn State football players, I think we're fine. I know where he's coming from and I think they all feel that. I think they feel as if this thing has really not been quite fair to all of them, but that's what we are. We live in a world that's high-intensity profile. I don't think that's going to be a problem as far as our football team as far as how we play.
Q: What about Lydell Sargeant has stood out in practice so far?
A: Lydell has always been a kid that's really very attentive to details and has tried to make himself better. He's always had very obvious athletic ability. There was a question whether he had enough confidence in that ability in order to be able to make some plays and be a top-notch player. I think all of that has come together for him. He's had an outstanding preseason and I think he is on the verge of of becoming one of the really good cornerbacks we've had. I think he ought to be feel good about himself. He deserves it, he's worked hard, he's overcome some of the problems that we've talked about earlier off the field, that really he had very little to do with, but was part of the group that got involved. I think he's been mature enough to handle that and he's doing real well. I think he's going to have a heck of a year.
Q: What is it about Terrell Golden that made him a good choice for captain this year?
A: I was talking to some of the younger kids yesterday about patience. There's a lot of things about patience, particularly when you're in a situation where some of the young kids that came here had high expectations. You can come here with patience and give up and that becomes frustration or you can come here with patience and goals that it's just going to be your day if you work at it. That patience turns out to be a plus. Golden did the latter of those two. When he was in his first couple of years, he was a guy I wouldn't have told you was going to be one of the better football players that we were going to have, but right now he is because he's worked hard, he didn't let the frustration that comes with patience, if you don't have goals, and he worked at it. Right now, he is a heck of a football player and I think he's one of our better players. I think the kids, when I say the kids, the players on the team, when they see somebody that's paid the kind of price he's paid to be where he is, and admire that, and want to identify with it, and that's one of the reasons that I think they elected him one of the captains.
Q: Could you talk about the physical shape that Phil Taylor is in and about how you're going to use Jerome Hayes? Is Taylor's knee okay?
A: We're using Jerome Hayes as more of an outside linebacker rather than defensive end. It depends on how you describe the positions. I think Hayes is a good football player and we've been trying hard to get him in the game where he can do some things that would make us more productive. Taylor has been one of those kids that has always had a weight problem. I'm fighting him all of the time, as is Coach (Larry) Johnson, who works with him to get his weight down, because when he's up at a certain weight, and I won't get into the figures, he doesn't have much stamina. It's hard to project yourself using a kid who's not going to have enough stamina that you can count on him when he's in a drive, that he's going to be there for eight, 10, 12, 14 plays if it turns out to be that kind of a drive or if it's a quick switch and he has to go right back in there. He's got tremendous ability, he's an outstanding prospect, but right now he is not somebody that's very high on our expectations on how good we're going to be and will not be until he gets his weight down.
(on Taylor's knee) - Yeah, he's fine.
Q: After you put a lot of emphasis on leadership and community service and then Quarless gets in trouble, do you feel the message wasn't getting through or was it just an isolated incident?
A: I really haven't thought about it in the outline that you described. We made a mistake, I felt, as a team because too many people on the team knew what was going on in the incident back in April. I felt that we should all say, 'hey, look, somebody could have stopped it,' and we go from there and take responsibility. I think you started out with a question on leadership. Quarless and Harriott is a whole different thing. It's an incident that both of them got involved in on their own and I'm trying to handle that differently than I would the other one. Now whether my actions as far as the incident back in April covers Quarless and Harriott, you would hope that there would be some kind of a spill off, but it wasn't intended for that. You intend to make kids aware of the fact that there are some responsibilities they have. That's a tough question to answer, to answer it the way you wanted it answered. You can't categorize everything as Type A or Type B or Type C, you're dealing with people....different backgrounds, different reasons why they do certain things that you're not happy with. Their background, their track record, there's a lot of things that go into it. I have a very difficult time answering a question that's as broad as yours and I know I didn't answer it, but I just want you to understand what happened in April is a lot different than what happened with Quarless and Harriott and hopefully I'm sensitive enough to treat them differently.
Q: Have you made any decisions at tailback as to who is going to start or will there be a rotation?
A: I think we're going to use both (Austin) Scott and (Rodney) Kinlaw. I think both of them have had really good preseasons. Both of them have been all-business, done very well, stayed healthy, have blocked well, caught the ball well, so I'm really pleased with our tailback situation. And then of course we have (Evan) Royster and a couple good freshmen, but the freshmen we are in the process of trying to figure out whether we ought to redshirt them or not. I think right now we're in a good situation. I think we have two kids that have been here five years, Kinlaw and Scott, both of them are ready to play, anxious to play, had a good preseason practice and are healthy. That's a positive for us.
Q: How tough is it to prepare for FIU having not seen them last year and with a first-year head coach?
A: I am as nervous as I've probably have even been for a first game, because of a lot of things that you just mentioned. They're in the middle of an area where they can recruit a lot of kids with tremendous athletic skills. I don't know very much about the university. I've tried to do all of the research that we could possibly do on what the new coach might want to do with his football team. He's got some Rutgers background, so we looked at some Rutgers tape, particularly on defense. We've heard some things about what they might do with the spread and other things. So we're trying to get ourselves ready. I'll tell you exactly what I told the squad the other day. I said, "Ordinarily, we'd go into the game with a plan about this big (gesture representing a thin playbook), particularly with a young squad." Because then you can repeat, repeat, repeat, exposure them, expose them, expose them. But when you don't know what you're going to get and we don't; I haven't got the slightest idea what they're going to do offensively or what they're going to do defensively. We're guessing. So now, that thing becomes this big a plan (gesture representing a thick playbook). So the young kids that did 10 things, 10 times with this plan (first plan), now you've got five times instead of 10. Are we going to be ready? I don't know. This is going to be a very, very interesting opening game for us.... As I started out saying, I am about as nervous about this game, because we're not going to play a bunch of kids that are going to come up here and say, 'Oh, Penn State...' Nah. And their coach has Rutgers' experience. He's been around Greg Schiano, who obviously has got a great background with Penn State. He was a G.A. here and assistant coach here before he left. So, I think we're in for a really much more difficult afternoon and I hope we're ready. I hope we're ready to handle all of the things we may get, because I'm not sure what we're going to get. Obviously, they have an advantage over us. They can look at tapes of us and they can look at personnel. They can look at strategies and things like schemes. So they'll come up here just a little bit maybe better prepared then we're going to be for their program. That's the way it goes. We'll see what happens.
Q: Could you discuss the development of Justin King has made since coming into the program?
A: King was a very unusual athlete when he came here and he's at a position that he was comfortable with right from the beginning. The one thing about being a corner on a defensive football team is that there's not a lot of complicated assignments. It's a question of how good are you as an athlete? It's almost like being a wideout, although wideout is a little bit more difficult because you've got to read coverages and you've got to get away from some people. But when you're out there as a corner, there's only a couple of things: you've got to play one-on-one, you've got to go up on a two-deep or you've got to be back out there on a three-deep. But you're not involved in all of the changes that go up front. You're not involved in the different alignments. Sometimes, people come out in one offensive set and the safety has to change the arrangement, has to change assignments for certain people, but very rarely do you do it with a corner. So King came in as an outstanding athlete and he's played as an outstanding athlete. He's had an outstanding preseason practice. I think he's one of the better corners in the country. He's stayed there, he's played there, he's done that. I think at times he's been a dominant player. At times, people kept him out of the game because they went the other way. We're always trying to figure out a way for King to be the most prominent player that we have against certain sets, certain offensive personnel. He's an unusual athlete. He's a very bright athlete. He's been a very confident athlete from the day he stepped on the practice field at Penn State. So, he's got to be one of our better players. He's got to be one of the guys that they (opponents) decide they want to do certain things and he can make the plays.
Q: How has preseason gone for Mickey Shuler and what are some of his strengths right now?
A: I think Mickey's had a good preseason. He's got to be a little bit more consistent in his blocking and catching the football. He needs some success. He's a lot like his old man was (Mickey). His old man, when he first came here, was a guy that if he dropped a pass, he was out at practice the next day getting somebody to throw him the football. I think he's going to be okay.
Q: Do you feel you've hit the balance between getting ready for the season and still having your legs for this week?
A: Are you talking my legs or the team's? (laughter) I don't know. We didn't practice yesterday and we took Sunday off. I had planned to take Sunday and Monday off. I had told the kids. Yesterday was the first day of class. I know where you're coming from and the problem is that this has been the most unusual preseason I've ever been involved in, because summer school went so long and we had so many kids in summer school. You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth. You can't say, 'Hey, you're here to go to school, but I'm going to practice X number of hours twice a day.' We were allowed to practice twice a day, but we didn't practice twice a day, because we were in summer school. Honest to goodness, and I know sometimes you guys think I'm conning you, I honestly don't know. I'm nervous as the dickens. If I knew more about FIU, and if I knew more about the (new) regime, I could answer that better. I don't know. I'll probably know after today, because we've given them a couple of days off. If you had seen me on Saturday... I hadn't intended to practice Saturday except go out and walk through some things and then we give them Saturday, Sunday and Monday off, but I felt so far behind. We worked them out for an hour and 40 minutes in that hot weather Saturday and I'm second-guessing myself now about maybe that was the wrong thing to do. I'm anxious to see how we are today, whether we're tired or what. It's going to be close. We're not home free.
Q: What do you look forward to most about opening day having such a young team as you have?
A: I think I'm just like the fans, I'm anxious to see what they can do. I've constantly been on the coaches about, 'Get them in the right place. Get them where they're rested up. Get them where they're aggressive and they're having fun and they're going after people and all of that kind of stuff.' I think if we can get that done and we haven't spread ourselves too thin as far as our plans, so that we can adjust and know what we're doing against anything that FIU can come up with, because I don't know what FIU is going to come up with, as I've said. I don't know what's going to happen to us. I'm just like a fan - well not right now, but I will be Thursday or Friday. I'll go to bed Friday night thinking, 'Anthony (Morelli), are you ready, kid?' (laughs) 'Are you going to get the ball to a couple of guys.' Defense, are we going to be able to grab a couple of things,' because they're going to throw the ball against us. If they don't, I'll be surprised. So, I don't know. I'm just like the rest of you. I'd like to impress you that I know more than I know, but I don't.
Q: If the game were to get out of hand, would you consider putting Pat Devlin in or would it be Darryl Clark?
A: I don't have the slightest idea if I'm going to stick Pat Devlin in, do you have any eligibility? (laughter) Is 36 a good number for you? That was my number. I can stick you in there. I'm trying to win the game. I guess I don't make myself clear. I'm scared to death of the game, and you think I'm thinking about getting Devlin into the game? I'm serious about that. I think that everybody's got to calm down. Calm down. We're playing a good football team, and I don't know enough about their whole background, personnel or otherwise. I know what we are, and we're not a great football team. We're a long way from being a really good football team, because we have so many young kids that have never been there. You're going to see guys in that game that have never been to a game, and they're going to be in there in clutch situations. 107 or 108 thousand people in there, who knows what they're going to do? I don't. I'm not God.
Q: Do you feel you've done a good job of getting the team ready to face pressure?
A: I think I've done a lousy job. I always think I've done a lousy job two or three days before the first game. I'm always thinking that, "we should've done this, I could've done that, I could've done other things" and still keep them fresh enough that they can go out there and play with a lot of enthusiasm. I don't know. I've tried very hard to put them in a lot of different pressure situations. A pressure situation on a practice field, whether you do it on your practice field, and I've taken them over to the stadium a couple of times, and to be in the middle of something where if you make a mistake it's the ballgame and all the work that went into the winter program and all the work that went into the spring practice and all the summer workouts and that stuff is on the line... that's another question. And that's why I say, I don't know about some of the young guys. They've never been in it, how are they going to react to it? We've tried to get them ready. We talk about it. We try to put them in the situation on the practice field. Whether they're ready for it or not, I don't think you're ever really ready for it until you get in it. I think that's why people talk about experience. And that's why they talk about inexperience with some kids. Remember when you were young? There wasn't a story that was written that you couldn't have done better, right? It's the same way. These guys all think that they can do it well. And hopefully, we can get them ready to do it, but we'll find out.
Q: Are you planning on running out of the tunnel with the team?
A: Not really. I've got a new plan. I'm going to drop from a parachute. (laughter) How do you think I'm going to get on the field? How about if you carry me out? (laughs)
A: I think both of those kids are going to be really good football players. They're both hard workers, and they have a lot of ability. Good size, good quickness. They're not there yet. They've never had to get in there and play with a headache and play hurt, bad shoulder... everything hurts a little bit. That's what I keep telling these young kids, 'You guys have got to understand. There's a difference between being hurt and injured.' Everybody when they get through preseason ought to be hurt. Everybody's got an ache and a pain, because you can't get them ready unless you bang each other a little bit. I think both of those kids are going to be real fine football players. Are they good enough right now? They've got a ways to go, but they're both going to play.
Q: What's the status of Tom McEowen?
A: Tom is a little bit behind because of the knee. They didn't let Tom do a lot of things until a couple of weeks ago. In fact, about 10 days ago, but I think Tom would be in the same boat.
A: Maybe. Right now, we're too caught up in trying to be able to be good at certain things. Again, I know I'm lecturing and I know I do that, but I don't know how to explain myself sometimes without lecturing. You've got a football team. You've got 11 guys on the football team. You can teach as much as all 11 can get. If you've got two that can't handle what you'd like to do for the other nine, you've got to bring it back, because you never know when those two are going to be involved in some kind of a crucial play. So I always tell the coaches that we're as good as the worst player and we're as fast as the slowest player we've got...we're as smart as the dumbest player we've got. It's always...that's the thing. Right now, we are so concerned with just making sure that the guys we play, the offensive players and the defensive players, everyone is comfortable with what we're doing. Everyone is going to be able to line up, is going to feel good about themselves, they're going to be aggressive, they're going to be able to play fast and smart and they can anticipate things. All of the little things that make the difference in a player being adequate and being able to win games. Now, for us to put another factor into that formula right now doesn't work. For me to say, 'Oh, we're going to arrange practices to get King the ball or can we arrange to get this guy something, take him from defense to offense and so forth.' We don't have the luxury of doing that right now. Our job is to make sure that we've got 11 guys on the field at any one particular time, whether it's kicking- nobody's mentioned the kicking game, which is one of the biggest concerns I've got. I want 11 guys out on the field that all know what they're doing and that we're not asking them to do something they can't. Not any one of the 11 should be asked to do something they can't do, okay? That's where we are right now. We will slowly expand as we get more experience and they get more confidence and when you've got a young team... that's where we are. We're going to expand. We're going to get better. As long as we don't get disappointed and we don't lose our confidence and we don't get discouraged and we prevent their being uncomfortable in doing what they are doing. So for me to put somebody over there, I don't even know what I've got on the sheet... two plays with A.J. Wallace running, but I'm not going to bring it up. Not this week. Maybe next week. Maybe next week you'll see King running the ball up there and you'll be leading him. (laughs).