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Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno answers a question during his weekly news conference. (AP)
Sept. 1, 2009
Q. Can you discuss your thoughts on the way Jerome Hayes has come back from two serious knee injuries?
He's a very determined kid. Of course, he's not a kid anymore, but a young man. And he's worked awfully hard. He's been determined he was going to come back...so far so good.
We've not kept him in there any extended period of time because we didn't want him to get tired and maybe not be able to protect himself as well. But he's had a good pre season. I think right now he's ready to play.
It's a little different position where he's playing. We're playing him as a defensive end -- half a defensive end, half an outside linebacker. But, so far, so good.
Well, Sukay has been hurt a lot, so it appears he's come out of nowhere, which really hasn't been accurate. He's been around. He's always had tremendous potential. He's a fairly big kid. He runs well. He's a tough kid and he's smart.
I think his emergence as a starter didn't surprise anybody on the staff. We just kept hoping he'd stay healthy. He had foot problems, a couple other things. I think he had a shoulder problem for a while there. So he's never really had an opportunity to show what he can do.
So, he has stayed healthy and he's had a really good pre season, and I think he'll play well. I'm not sure what we're going to do with A.J. I had put some rules down that he had to get certain grades, which he got in the summertime. I had to put some other rules down. He's abided by them. He may end up playing some on Saturday. (Knowledge) Timmons right now would start with the other kid (D'Anton Lynn). Timmons will be fine.
I think the other corners will work out to be good. None of them have had a lot of experience in ballgames except for Wallace, but they're healthy and they've been getting better all the time. So I think they'll be okay.
Now, they'll be challenged, because this is a really good offensive football team. You get 9 of 11 kids back, got the quarterback back, they've got their wideouts back, they've got a big offensive line, which is very active, all of whom played last year, I think except one kid who might only be a sophomore.
But it will be a challenge for the secondary.
Q. What type of challenge do you think their quarterback (Chris Jacquemain) will bring to your team this weekend?
Well, he's been a two year starter. Akron at the end of the year last year was playing really well. And I think there's tremendous momentum with their football team. He's a very smart kid, very careful with the football. As I said, they've got good wideouts. Both the tight ends are redshirt freshmen, but they're big kids. One is about 260, 265, the other one is maybe 270. As I mentioned earlier, he's got an outstanding offensive line that did a great job protecting him last year and I think obviously they'll be better this year.
So he's a good all around quarterback, plays smart, has a good arm. He gets good protection, makes good decisions. We'll have our hands full with them.
Q. Andrew Quarless talked today about wanting to make you proud of him and make his family proud of him this year. Do you think he's had a different attitude than in the past few years?
Andrew Quarless, hopefully he's grown up. He did a lot of silly things when he first came into the program. But, so far so good. And he has the potential to be a really good tight end. He can run. He's got good hands. He's obviously got nice size for a tight end. So I think he and (Mickey) Shuler should give us two kids that are good tight ends, both of whom have played some.
But, I'm hoping Quarless will have a big year.
Q. Are you feeling any better after the last two weeks of practice with your offensive line, especially with the second team you have behind it?
I think the offensive line's made great strides. But, until they get in the football game, until they have to make some adjustments...The tough thing about an opening game is you're not quite sure what you're going to see. I think we have a little better feel for what we're going to see from their offense because so many of their kids are back, including the guys that have really run the show. Other than their tailback, who was their leading ground gainer last year, most all their skill people are back.
But, on defense we're not quite sure what we're going to see because there's a lot of new faces that are going to play. Last year they were basically a 3 5. We're not sure they're going to stay with the 3 5 or whether they're going to go to a 4 3. So we've had to do a lot of extra practicing because we're not sure what we're going to get.
So, I think it will be a challenge for the offensive line to make whatever adjustments we're going to have to make because you can't cover all of it. If you try to cover everything that they possibly could do, you'll have a bunch of kids that can't make any progress; they get stymied. But, I think we've made good progress on fundamentals. I think they've got a lot more confidence in themselves. I think they should, if we have a good week of practice this week, they ought to be looking forward to a good challenge.
Q. Are there a couple of the true freshmen you've been impressed with that they could see some time on Saturday?
Some time, yeah. But, how much time I wouldn't know. I think there's a couple kids that eventually are going to be really good. But until you put them in a game and see how they react, you don't know.
But, I think there will be a couple of kids that will play some. Now, how much is 'some'? Is that eight plays, 10 plays, five plays? It depends on how the game goes.
Q. Could you talk about the progress that Jerome Hayes made in pre season and how you feel about him being in the starting lineup for Saturday?
Earlier, I said he's really worked hard. We've not put him in a situation where he would get tired. I didn't want to do that because psychologically it's hard to come off two knee injuries, two knee operations. So we've kind of just let him, you know, get him in there, let him do some things, then get him out of there before he did get tired.
He's anxious to get in there. We're anxious to see him. I think he'll do well, I really do, as I said earlier.
Q. Can you talk about the progress of Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin made in camp? Talk about giving Matt the news of getting the scholarship. Is that a thrill after all these years?
Both Kevin and Matt, they're freshmen. There's a lot of things to learn, as I mentioned earlier. One of the problems we have in an opening game is we're not quite sure what they're going to get defensively. So you have to throw a lot of stuff at them (the QBs). "If they do this, we do this. If they do that, we do this." That kind of stuff.
I think once we can get a game or two under our belts and we get to be able to evaluate people we're going to play, because they have played a couple games, then I think the young quarterbacks will make better progress than they've made so far.
There's too many things that we've asked them to handle right now because we don't know what we're going get (from Akron's defense).
Q. Last year at this time, and even well into last season, so much of the emphasis and attention was on you and your health, your status, etc.... Now almost none of it is on you. Are you relieved?
And how. I'm relieved because I can do some things now that I had trouble doing the last couple years, particularly on the practice field. I'm able to get around. Last year I had to go around, had somebody drive me around on a motor scooter; a golf cart. I feel much better about everything. So I'm relieved that I'm where I am physically and hopefully it won't be, "Paterno is doing this, Paterno is doing that, is he doing this," and we can concentrate on our football team.
I think there's a couple guys, Brackett, Zug....I mentioned the tight end situation. I think the tight ends are going to have a bigger part in what we do offensively, particularly in the passing game. And then I wouldn't underestimate (Chaz) Powell and (Derek) Moye. Moye has played some. So we do have some kids that have played some. I don't think you can put it all on one guy. I think you can always take one receiver out of a game.
I do think we have some balance there. A kid like (Evan) Royster can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. So I think we've got pretty good balance up there. Whether we can get the ball to them, whether we can protect, whether we can handle some blitzes, we may not even have practiced against until we see them in the ballgame, make the adjustments we need to make, pick out the hot receiver in situations that we haven't looked at, that's where the experience of the wideouts come in. I was asked earlier whether we have some freshmen that may play. We have some freshmen that have talent. I'm at concerned with sticking them in there too early and then maybe they can't adjust to some things.
I think Brackett and the kids that I mentioned, I think they've had enough experience that they can come out of the game and say, "Hey, I missed the outside linebacker plug, I didn't know we were going to have to see that," that kind of stuff. So you can carry on intelligent conversation with them and make the right kind of adjustments.
Q. What are your thoughts on the kicking game and are you comfortable with Collin Wagner as the kicker?
Yeah, I think the kicking game will have to be a big part, if we're going to have any success. I think we're going to have to get some returns. We lost a guy that was really a big threat back there, broke open a couple ballgames for us with punt returns and kickoff returns, Derrick Williams. So I think, yeah, we've got to fill that void.
Collin Wagner will be fine. I mean, he'll be fine. He was very close to (Kevin) Kelly last year. He's worked hard. He may have a little stronger leg than Kelly had. I don't know. But I do think Collin will be fine.
Q. How important is it to you personally to adhere to the 20 hour a week practice limit and how much emphasis does the school place on that?
We never use (the) 20 hours. If we go, we'll go maybe 17.5, 18 hours. So when they passed the rule, I don't know how many years ago, that you could only go four hours a day and 20 hours a week, it never had any impact on us. A hundred years ago I went down to Oklahoma to watch Oklahoma practice when Bud Wilkinson was on that amazing streak of 40-something wins. Bud was nice enough to give me some time that I could go in and just sit with him and ask him some questions. I don't know how we got around to it, but we talked about practice. I had been impressed with their spring practice. They hadn't worked that long. I forget how I approached it.
It ended up, he said, "I have one rule: If any assistant coach on the staff," and those days they had 15 or 16 assistant coaches, he said, "if anybody says we're practicing too long, I cut practice short."
So we can get by on...if we wanted to take the full four hours, we could take it, 20 hours, but we don't. We haven't gone 20 hours anytime. Now, don't hold me to it. I may be lying. We may have been 19.5, 20, 20 hours and 10 minutes one week, I don't know. But we're very aware of that.
Q. Is that a good cutoff point (20-hour rule) to make sure the college kids can have a well rounded life and not have their whole life be devoted to football?
Well, I can't speak for everybody. The NCAA passes rules which blanket every program. I never worried about the rule. I guess this is something to do with something went on in Michigan? Somebody said you might get a question about Michigan. I didn't know what they were talking about this morning.
I think kids are here to get an education. If you don't interfere with their education, you give them an opportunity to achieve success in the classroom, whether you practice 20 and a half hours a week or whether you practice 18 hours a week, I don't know what kind of a deal that is.
Q. You talked about how you're feeling physically. Are you looking forward to getting the season started more than usual because you're coming back to the sideline?
I enjoyed it upstairs. That was kind of fun. I could second guess the coaches all the time, sticking my two cents in there (laughter).
I'm looking forward to getting back on the sideline. Yeah, I'm looking forward to the season. I am. Although, you know, it's going be a challenging season in a lot of different ways. I know some people I think people have had a tendency to overestimate how good we're going to be right now. I think eventually we're going to be a pretty good football team. But until we get a couple things better we're going to have to fight for our lives. I kind of like that situation.
I don't know whether I'm going to be able to run on the field. I've been trying to do a little jogging out there on the practice field. But, I get a little nervous once in a while because they still want me to be careful about the hip. But, I've had absolutely no problem. We go out there and, I go from drill to drill, walk around, do a lot of different things. I think everything will be good. I am looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to getting back on the sideline.
Q. You mentioned losing Derrick Williams. Who will be in those return roles for punts and kickoffs? Is that an area where a freshman might help you?
Kickoffs, probably Powell will be in there. I'm not sure who the other kid will be. Probably be Green. Punt returns it will probably be Royster and the other kid, the little Italian kid that can run, the safety, (Drew) Astorino.
Q. Can you talk about what opening day means to you, starting another season? Also, from a coaching standpoint, the relief maybe you and your staff have of actually seeing your guys hit against somebody else other than themselves?
I think that part of it, the second part of your question, is absolutely right. You never know what you've got until they go out there and do some things. Then you never know what has to be done. You may have missed something in coaching.
The hardest part about coaching is to get your best players in the right spots to do the things they can do best. That to me is the hardest part of coaching, and the one that's most satisfying when you get the right kind of combinations. And you don't know until you do play that first game.
I'm anxious to see some of these kids, see what they can do against clubs. Contrary to what people think, Akron is a fine football team. When you look at the way they played towards the end of the year, they started out a little slow, but they've got some kids that can play and they're well coached. So it will be a real...we'll be in a tough football game. It will be interesting to see how we react to a tough football game.
Q. Your receivers are a lot bigger than the kids you had last year. What do you like about Moye the most?
Well, Moye, as you said, is a lot bigger receiver than, say, (Deon) Butler. He's playing pretty much the same position Butler played. He'd be close speed wise.
The thing about Butler, he had such great judgment on where the ball was going to come down. He wasn't one of those guys that had to run around looking at the football. He went in the area, he went to it. He was like a good outfielder. Watch some of the great outfielders. When you watch Willie Mays, the ball was hit to centerfield, he wasn't there running like that, he turned his back and he'd catch up to the ball. That's what Butler did. Moye hasn't had that kind of experience yet. But we can throw certain passes to him that you wouldn't throw to Butler.
That's true of Brackett. Now, Zug isn't quite as big as those two guys, but he's still 6-1, a good sized kid. Powell would be more like Butler, but he's bigger. He's a little bit more like Williams. He can run, but he needs to get some more confidence in his hands and things. I think the potential there is good and we'll see. Having big kids I think is a plus.
Q. Overall, are you pleased with where your team's at as you exit camp and head into the first time?
Yeah, I think we had a good pre season camp. It was a very, very difficult pre season, the toughest one I ever had, because of the way the university has re-scheduled things. Our first week of pre season practice we were still in summer school and we had kids taking exams on Sunday that for one reason or other, the professor had deferred the exams. The exams were supposed to be on Friday. We had a couple of exams on Sunday and Monday. Then we had a week where we had them. They didn't have anything else. We only had them one week because then school started.
You know, you take Ohio State. Ohio State doesn't go to school until they've played two, three games. We had one week where we didn't have either summer school or fall classes. So that was tough. And I think the kids really did a great job of adjusting to it. They handled the academic part. We had a great summer academically. Everybody came out of it. All the kids are eligible. And they showed up for meetings and practice and the whole bit. But it was not easy. It was not easy on them and it wasn't easy on the coaches because we had to rearrange practices almost daily, except for the one week when we didn't have any classes going on.
So overall I think they did a good job. I really do.
Q. I'm wondering how valuable it's been to have a proven quarterback like (Daryll) Clark while new guys on the offensive line and wide out progress? Is there something about Daryll Clark that causes guys to develop confidence more quickly?
I don't think there's any question having a quarterback that's had success and the kids know he can handle it, his presence in the huddle, his ability to literally coach on the field in the ballgame, "Hey, you should have cut that route off a little sooner, you're a little slow coming on the running play to one of the tailbacks," those kind of things are really important.
How much you can do with them, though, is limited because the backup kids. We don't have anybody that's played a down behind them. That's one of the big things when (Pat) Devlin left. Those two guys could compete.
Right now, Clark has got to run the show and we've got to make sure we give him enough that he can do the job that he's capable of doing, but yet we can't get him so far ahead of the other two kids because he gets an ankle or gets bumped up a little bit, one of the other kids has to go in, and neither one of them have played a down.
So we don't have quite what you'd like to have if you had an experienced backup guy. I guess that's what I'm trying to say. But Clark is a big plus. He's a good football player.
Q. With Sean Lee back on the football field on Saturday, what kind of impact will he have with the back seven?
Lee is a good football player. I mean, whether he's on the sidelinelike last year or what, he's a good football player. He's all business. He's a tough competitor. He's smart as a whip. He reminds me so much of Jack Ham, except Ham may have been just a little bit faster. But, Lee is really a big time player.
Q. Are you still in a mode of working real hard this week or are you easing back?
We only have pads on today. We went with tops yesterday. We'll go with tops tomorrow. On Thursday we'll go with shells. So we'll only put the full pads on 'em today. And that's typical. That's typical of most weeks we have from now on in. I don't like to go more than one day with pads. I always worry about their legs. I always think if they're not fresh and they're not bouncing around, they're not eager to play, you've lost something, regardless of how much you practiced.
So, anyway, one day. Today is the only day we'll put the pads on, all the pads.
Q. ESPN Classic, they had on the '82 game against Georgia. Do you ever find yourself with your remote looking at some of the older games? Do you learn anything from any of those?
Yeah, the only one I look at is the last part of the (2008) Iowa game. I don't even want to look at that Southern Cal thing (laughter).
No, I don't look at that stuff. I mean, we have all those tapes. I don't have to listen to some guy telling me how the game should be played. I can find out myself. I can back and forth, the whole bit (laughter).
Q. Can you talk about the injury to Mike Mauti?
And then we lost (Brandon) Ware yesterday. Didn't even get hit. He was just running and he broke a bone in his foot. Mauti is a big time prospect. He'd be in the league with (Navorro) Bowman and Lee. He (Mauti) didn't even get hit. You feel bad if some of those injuries were kids that were in contact. But he was just running one place. He turned and the knee went out.
Mauti, he's in Lee's class as an athlete. He's really good.
Q. Who did you say you lost yesterday, broke his foot?
Brandon Ware. He broke it yesterday early in the practice. He wasn't even doing anything but a drill, just changing direction.
Q. You haven't put the nickel in yet this week. Who are one or two guys we might see there against Akron?
We don't have a nickel back so far. We really don't. Our linebackers have been good. We'll have to see what happens this week. But we're hopeful that the linebackers Josh Hull gets passed over because the other guys, Lee and Bowman, get the stats....when Mauti looked like he was going to be a big player. So Josh Hull hasn't got quite the credit. If our linebackers can play the way we think, and they can be outside linebackers that can walk away from the line of scrimmage and help on the pass game, we may not use a nickel. We'll see. A lot will depend on how a couple kids in the secondary come along.
We've debated it. We've talked about it. We have a system in place if we want to use it. Probably could use it tomorrow if we wanted to. But right now we're hoping we can get by without getting a nickel.
Q. Do you know how long Ware is going to be sidelined?
I don't think they can be sure, but they x rayed it yesterday. Dr. Sebastianelli said to me, "He'll be at least three, four weeks," which probably means four, five, I guess.
Q. You talked last month about using Royster and (Stephfon) Green in the same backfield. Can you talk generally about the depth you have at running back, what kind of options that gives you offensively?
Well, it depends. I don't want to tell you everything. We have a lot of different combinations that we can work with because we do have some kids. Some of them aren't the greatest as far as if you test them, the 40 yard test, the vertical jump, all that kind of just have you, but they're football players...(Brandon) Beachum. Joey Suhey is a good football player. Beachum is a good football player.
They know how to play the game. So there are some combinations that we can use. We can use Beachum as a tailback and Suhey as a fullback if we want. Beachum can play tailback. Some of that is going to be judged by how we use them on specialty teams. Beachum is on three specialty teams. I think Suhey is on three specialty teams. They're good football players, they learn quickly, they adjust, they know the game. There are some kids that are great athletes, but they just don't have the awareness of the game and it takes them a while to get it. So we've got a lot of different possibilities combination wise.
Q. Before the first game, do you try to assess how nervous maybe your younger players are, if they're overwhelmed? What do you look for during warmups?
If they're not nervous, I'm nervous. They're bound to be nervous. If you're talking about a kid that has been in a game or something like that. Even those kids will be nervous. Coaches are nervous. Players are nervous. You're a freshman just coming out of high school, you go into that stadium, if they weren't nervous, I'd be worried about it.
I think you've got to be nervous going into a football game. If you're not on edge, I don't know. So, yeah, they're going to be nervous, and I'm not going to worry about it. But, somebody gives them a shot in the head, their nervousness will be over.
I think it will be pretty much the same. Why do you ask that question?
Q. They were talking at media day he was going to redshirt this season.
Well, we haven't made up our mind on anybody we're going to redshirt yet. I mean, I'm hoping everybody's trying to make the football team. We have 12 games. This is a long year. I don't see anybody... Now, we have some kids we had to put on the scout team in order to assimilate what Akron can do. But even there when I talked to them my stipulation was, "You get on that scout team, do the best you can, get us ready for this one, and in the meantime we're going to give you, make sure you get some shots doing the things we're doing so that, you're not going be redshirted or anything else right now." So we haven't made that decision. I don't know where that came from.
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