Joe Paterno Press Conference Transcript
Sept. 14, 2010
Joe, what have you learned about your team so far?
COACH PATERNO: I've been nervous about how young they are and where the leadership would come from. And it really... we played the first half down in Alabama just about the way I was afraid we'd play it. Very tentative; we weren't aggressive. I think we'll find out more about the football team this week and from here on in. There was a great crowd. (at Alabama) And it's a real tribute to the Alabama fans. I think they were great sports. They cheered like the dickens for their football team, which should be. But they were not abusive. And I think our kids kind of got caught up in some things there.
And I think they have to grow up. Now, where are we? I don't know. I think we have potential. I've felt that from day one. But we've got to start putting some things together and some kids have got to come up and make some plays. And then I'll have a little bit of a feel. We didn't make many plays Saturday.
Could you talk about Robert Bolden and Kevin Newsome and what you've seen the past two weeks, and is your starting quarterback position still open, in your mind?
What is the extent of Gerald Hodges' injury and how long do you expect him to be out?
What's your sense why the defensive tackling has been an issue through the first two games?
And, I think, we've got to improve the tackling. And we've got to improve our ball reaction. We haven't had an interception in two games, a turnover in two games. It makes it pretty tough to win against anybody, particularly against a club as good as Alabama is. The kid at Youngstown (State) who was 21 for 27 without an interception. So, we've got a ways to go in those kinds of things, when you play two games without a take away, without a turnover. You've got to start getting to be a little bit more aggressive and got to get some people that go after things. And that's a big job we have ahead of us.
I was wondering if you could evaluate the performance of Evan Royster so far and are you satisfied, content with the production, the effort there?
He doesn't have great speed; has good speed. But he's got good instincts. He obviously catches the ball well when we use him as a receiver. We haven't used him yet as a receiver. But I think he's doing all right.
I think it's the whole mix that we've not been able to sustain any type of... we did, I think, the first game. We did what we had to do. We didn't want to do too much against Alabama and recovered from the shock of being down so far. We started to play a decent football game and I think Royster did a little better the second half than he did the first half. But I think we're okay. We've just got to take a good look at where we like, and tackling is one of them, ball reaction, things I've already mentioned are principally a little more consistency with the offensive line. But they're all doable. They're all doable. But we've got a lot of work ahead of us.
You mentioned the offensive line. What is your evaluation of them through two games? And what will it take to kind of tighten that unit up and make the running game go a little better?
And so it makes it just a little bit tougher for us we certainly haven't fooled anybody. And so the offensive line has a little tougher job than maybe what ordinarily they would have if we had a couple of other things we were doing. But we're not in a position yet to where we can do some things. Playing with a freshman at tight end. (Garry Gilliam), and a kid at left tackle (Quinn Barham). That's the first time he's played much football offensively.
So we've got some kids that have got to grow up. So, I think the offensive line made progress against a pretty good not a pretty good, a good defensive football team. So just got to as I keep saying, we've got to keep working, got to get better.
Did you notice, were the holes there that the offensive line was making for Royster, did he maybe miss a few opportunities?
Graham Zug hasn't caught a pass yet. Coincidence or is there anything going on there that's discernible?
We eventually are going to have a good passing attack as soon as we do a couple different things that the young quarterback or the young quarterbacks, the group, can handle.
And we need to do a little better job pass protecting. All those things have to come together. And then Zug is not a great speed (receiver), but a good receiver, had a good year last year and will get better. I think the whole football team has got to get better as we go along. But one thing will help the other. One group gets a little better, it will help the next group to get a little better and so forth until we're finally going to be a pretty good football team. Right now we're struggling, obviously and Zug is struggling with us.
Kent State has played pretty well defensively this season, especially against the run. Anything that they did that concerns you for the passing game?
They do a lot of things well. Young quarterback, but he's got a lot of poise. Defensively, I think they're good. There's one kid that really plays well. They've got a linebacker that plays well and a down guy that can play anywhere.
So I think it will be a good again, with anybody, we're going to have to play better than we have so far in the ball game. But we're home and we've got some advantages in that sense. But we've got I keep saying we've just got to get better. And we're going to have to get better this week in order to be able to handle Kent State.
You've often talked about the difference between injuries and bruises and just being nicked up. Stephon Morris was on a little bit earlier and he said he hurt his foot near the end of the first half that he didn't tell anybody because he wanted to stay in the game. What is his physical status for this game? And also did he make a mistake by not letting your medical staff know that he had hurt his foot?
What are you seeing so far from Silas Redd? Is he pushing Evan Royster for more playing time?
How do you think Nick Sukay has played through the first two games, especially with some of the issues you addressed earlier with ball reaction and tackling?
You mentioned Gilliam. You haven't been able to get the ball to the tight end much. Is that just a factor of young guys at quarterback and tight end, or is it part of just not being experienced?
So I keep coming back to it. It's something you guys are going to get tired of hearing and I get tired of talking about it. We're a young football team. It's going to take a while to get to be, play with a little more confidence, a little bit more verve and the whole bit. And the kids that are playing are going to be pretty good. Gilliam is going to be a pretty good end and the kid behind him is going to be a good end.
But we hadn't expected them to have to carry the load. We expected Szczerba to be our tight end. And as I said, he's not even he's not practiced one play.
You said you'd have a better idea who your leaders were once you lost a game or went through. Who has stepped up as the a leader, as a vocal leader?
I think the experience down in Alabama will be good for them. You hate like the dickens to take a licking like that and say you learn from it. But you do take a bunch of kids, take a kid like Bolden last year he was playing high school football and plays in that stadium and it was wild and great, and it was the kind of thing you would think. But still he's carrying a big load.
And there's a whole mess of those kids like that that have never really played in those kinds of situations. And the other team was that team's had a lot of success. The defending national champions and the whole bit, playing at home, lot of enthusiasm... big, big hype about the whole thing.
So I think overall we weren't as bad as I thought we were, as many I'm sure after the ball game weren't a happy warrior, and I wasn't until we practiced yesterday. I thought yesterday we came out there with a bunch of kids that want to get better. And we've got to get better. It's as simple as that.
We can do all the talking we want to talk about. But, individually some kids have got to get better. We've got to get team unity. We've got to get better, do a better job coaching, we've all got to do better.
You were playing a lot of different guys on defense (at Alabama). Are you still searching for the right combination? Are there some positions that are kind of up for grabs at this point?
I mean, it was particularly the big guys. And in particular, the pace of Alabama. They really had a fast pace. And some of the kids just plain got tired. I think we're in pretty good shape. So we played a lot of kids. And we have some down people. I thought our down people played, defensively played a pretty good game. I thought our linebacking wasn't very good. We didn't tackle well enough.
But there's no reason the reason we didn't play the reason we played as many down guys as we have is we got some back up guys and we wanted to keep them fresh and it was hot.
It was not as hot as I thought it was going to be, but the humidity was tough. A lot of them came out of there, a couple of kids had cramps. They didn't show it until we got them on the sideline and had a chance to get some fluids in them and the whole bit.
Both left guards we saw (in the game) on Saturday. What have you seen from both of them so far? And is that still a spot that you're undecided with?
And why do you say that he's ahead of (DeOn'tae) Pannell? What has he shown more of to you? What has he done to separate himself?
First two opponents are completing 76 percent of their passes against you, 37 of 49. Are you disappointed with the pressure you guys have ... didn't seem like you were getting much pressure on the quarterback?
I doubt that. I think the down guys really made a strong effort. And it was the first game was a little different than the second game. Have to be very careful with this quarterback, the Alabama quarterback, because as many of you had probably seen in the Texas game, he's a tough scrambler. He's a tough guy to pin down. We didn't do quite as many things you like to do because of the skill of the quarterback.
And obviously the rest of their offense, their offensive line is pretty good. So I don't know. Yeah, sure. You don't get an interception in two games, I don't care, you don't get a turnover, yeah, I started out telling you I was concerned about that.
Yesterday in practice, did the tackling intensity increase at all from what you saw in Alabama?
Looks like you've changed your punt formation for this year. How is that going to help punt coverage and all of that?
But I think for our personnel, it's helped. Because we have a lot of younger guys, smaller guys, who can run. And they're up on the line of scrimmage. And we'll see if it works out. So far so good on that. Coverage is good. Potentially, (Anthony) Fera will be an outstanding punter. He's a little bit erratic right now. But I think once he gets a little bit more confidence in himself, and he can concentrate a little bit more, we'll be pretty good there. I think obviously the fact that we've got one blocked (vs. Iowa, 2009), the fact we had two games last year that the punting game hurt us, we had to take a good look at that and we decided we could change.
You guys lost Hodges at the beginning of the game. How did that impact what you guys were trying to do with the linebackers and do we see more Khairi Fortt this week in his spot?
(Michael) Mauti hasn't played that much, played a lot. (Nate) Stupar has got a lot of ability but every once in a while he just drifts a little bit. I'm not saying he's not a great athlete but he's a tough kid and he hustles all the time. (Bani) Gbadyu has played pretty well.
I think we've just got to get on. I can only say it so many times. We've got to get better. We didn't tackle well, period. And some of it is technique. Some of it is a question that they're a little bit hesitant. Some of it was maybe they were out of position.
They had to play 60 I think they had 60 running plays or 60 plays from scrimmage; Alabama (did). And they did a good job. We did a much better job offensively than I realized. We only really were twice we were first down and out. We moved the ball pretty good. We gave up that big fumble, dropped a pass here or there.
Devon Smith has obviously good speed. What else does he give you on offense? What do you like about him?
Alabama won the national title last year. They were No. 1 this year. You get to play them. When you play a team like that, does that give you an opportunity to evaluate where your program is from a personnel standpoint, what it would take to get to that level to compete for a national championship?
And I think I've made it quite clear. I think we can be a pretty good football team, but we've got a ways to go. I mean, I don't know how many ways I can say it.