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Sept. 21, 2010
Q. Joe, in light of what happened to Mark Dantonio over the weekend, has coaching become more stressful in recent years?
COACH PATERNO: I think he's going to be okay. They told me they put a stent in. I just dropped him a note yesterday.
I really hadn't thought about that, to be frank with you. I'm assuming, in this day and age, if they catch those things soon enough, you know, they're not that I mean, they're very curable. He may be out a couple of days, but I don't know whether it will be any more than that.
I think you'd have to check with their people. But he's a wonderful guy. He's done a great job. He's been an outstanding coach. And it would be a shame if it were that bad that he could not coach.
Q. Can I follow that up? Has coaching become more stressful?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I mean, there's stress in everything in this day and age today. I don't know whether I think anything you do in the public eye look at the politicians, politically, the kind of pressure they're under. Everything they do, anything they did 15 years ago, people are bringing up.
It's just the world we live in. The media has had to compete. The television cable stations have gotten so active in things. And college football, ESPN, what, two, three, four, those people, stations televise games, three or four experts on? You can't turn the television on without somebody telling you what's happened. Don't leave anything up to your own judgment.
So I think it's a world of stress. We're in a very public world. And if you happen to be, to get into something where there's that much interest that would be in the kind of football that they're playing in the Big Ten or in most of the conferences today that we see on television, yeah, there's stress.
But I don't think it's any more than anything else.
Q. Temple's running back Bernard Pierce, what does he present for your defense this week?
COACH PATERNO: I think the whole Temple team presents a problem. Al Golden, he has two other kids that played for us, that are on his staff, one is defensive coordinator (Mark D'Onofrio), one is the offensive coordinator (Matt Rhule). And I think they're very, very sound. They've gotten better each year.
The kid you're talking about is a fine linebacker. Does a lot of things really well. And they ask him to do a lot of things. But they've got a couple other people, they've got a couple of down kids who are big offensively.
I think this is going to be a tough ball game, a really tough ball game. They're obviously are going to come up here...they know a lot about us, the three kids that played for us, and they've got momentum.
They've played a couple of good teams since. Central Michigan is a good team and Villanova is ranked the best in their division (FCS) by far. And they beat them in a tough ball game. And they had a tough one with a good Connecticut team, (which) lost by four points to Michigan.
So, I think when you start pointing out one individual, yeah, he's a good football player. But they've got a lot of other good football players. This is a good, solid football team that we're going to play.
Q. Joe, did Al Golden ever ask you for your opinion of the Temple job before he took it? And how do you think they've done overcoming some of the obstacles there?
COACH PATERNO: I think, as I just said, he's done a great job. He talked to me about different possibilities. He left here and he went to Virginia, because he was close to Al Groh and Al's family. And he had an opportunity to get a little bit more responsibility down there.
When the Temple job came up, I can't remember whether he called me specifically or not. But one or two times, when he was when we would be recruiting, and I'd be with him, we talked a little bit about his future and about patience and don't be a big hurry to jump into any job that pops up, something like that.
And, I can't be, to be honest with you, be very specific, because I don't remember. But I know generally speaking I think young coaches have a tendency to want to go too fast.
And I probably said something like, "wait for the right opportunity. " And Temple ...we had had...Ron Dickerson had left here to go down to work with Kenny Hatfield (at Clemson) and then he had left to go to Temple. So I know a little bit about it. And Temple's got some great alumni. Bill Cosby and some other people.
They're in a good city. It's a city that really is a great sports town. You can see that with the Eagles and Phillies; they are doing really well. If he had said something to me I would have told him if they're willing to make a commitment it's probably a good opportunity for you. I don't remember having had that conversation. I may have had it, I just don't remember.
Q. Has Stephfon Green done enough over the past couple of weeks to merit more carries this week and in the future?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I don't know. I try to get across every time we meet that we try to play each game and try to understand what's happening and take advantage of what some people can do. Depends on what Temple decides to do defensively as to how much we can run, how much we can throw.
A lot depends on field position, the kicking game, there's a lot of things that go into it. For me to tell you "so-and-so is going to carry the ball X number of times," I can't. I don't know.
I think that we have two or three good running backs. And I think that any one of which can handle a situation if they give us an opportunity to run.
But nobody's really taken the ball and shoved it down Temple's throat. I'll give you a clue. And we have not been able to really dominate anybody with the running game. So I'm not so sure exactly how we're going to handle this.
We've had one day of practice. Looked at tapes of them. I've been impressed with their discipline and how well they're coached. And I've been impressed with their hustle to the ball.
And they're obviously feeling good about themselves. As Al Golden said someplace I read, he said or I heard on ESPN or one of those television stations, that "we're now a Division I school. " And I think they are they're beating Division I schools and they should consider themselves Division I.
So that's a long answer to a simple question. But I don't have an answer for you. I don't know. I won't know maybe halftime exactly what we're going to do. We've got to get a feel for the game.
Q. I was wondering, how do you think Drew Astorino's shoulder situation is? Do you think it's affecting the way he's able to play? What's his situation?
COACH PATERNO: The shoulder still bothers him. He doesn't practice as intensely as he ordinarily would. I think he's done some things very well and some other things he's tried to be careful with the shoulder.
But he's a good competitor. He's smart. Kids rally around him. He's a good guy in that defensive huddle. He makes a lot of the calls we have to make defensively to adjust to the different offensive sets we may get.
So it's really almost a week by week thing with him. We try not to get him banged up too much in practice so he can play well on Saturday.
But I'd say he's done a good job and better than good job when you consider all the physical circumstances around him.
Q. Seemed like last Saturday there were a lot of people who played significant minutes who were listed as second team on the depth chart that we received. I just wondered how you feel the competition is within the squad this season, and are the underclassmen as talented a group as you've seen?
COACH PATERNO: I think as I've said a couple of times we have a lot of good, young players. We did not play any more players Saturday than we ordinarily have played. Most of the kids you see that play that you would say were second in the depth chart are defensive down guys. And we played some linebackers.
But offensively, that offensive line, outside of one or two kids who played maybe 15, 20 plays, they all played the whole game. Two tight ends played the whole game. (Garry) Gilliam, who is a young freshman.
So, I don't think we made any more substitutions. I haven't had a chance to check I get a report usually get it Tuesday, late morning, about how many plays each kid has played, and that's got some bearing on how we practice. Because I've got to be careful, when a kid plays 70-75 plays, if he plays that many you have to watch his legs in practice. If you have someone that plays more than 30-35 plays, then you got a whole different attitude towards practice.
But I have not seen that yet. I don't think we substituted any more or more than we ordinarily have done in any of the games we've played.
Q. I was wondering in light of the Mark Dantonio situation if you may have done a little bit with your staff, maybe even past years, to minimize the stress and the workload that is put upon them every week.
COACH PATERNO: Not that I know of or that I'm aware of. I coach exactly the way I've coached. I don't have any physical problems. I had that little boutwith those antibiotics and a couple of things. And threw some of the things that we've got to have to do every once in a while, threw that out of whack, but I'm fine.
Knock on wood, I've never had any problem, heart problems or whatnot. I've been a great walker. I've not gotten to do more walking than I've been doing in the past, because of time. So much more demanded of us these days. And I think that's probably what happens.
When somebody asked earlier, I think, about the stress, I don't think the job itself is any more stressful than it was. But there's more demands in the sense that there's more you know, every game just about as televised.
I spend some time with the people who do the television game on Friday. And we're in the Big Ten. As soon as I leave here I go home and then I do a telephone conference call. On the conference call each coach gets 10 minutes, a little press conference on the phone.
So there's a lot of things that go on beyond it. So I used to walk five, six miles a day at a pretty good pace. I think that's held me over in good stead. But I feel pretty good. I don't think I'm coaching any differently than I have. In fact, the coaches might tell you they wish I'd shut up more (laughter)
Q. On Saturday, a lot of the kids after the game talked about how tough practice was last week, how they went in pads a little more than they normally do. Could you talk exactly about what you did different last week, and why you did it? And would you continue to do any of it going forward?
COACH PATERNO: I think some of the guys you talked to were dreaming. We only put full pads on them once. But we put the shoulder pads on them and we were a little bit more aggressive in practice.
I had felt that we were not intense enough at practice. So we tried to set a different tone. Got around in more drills. Pushed some kids, literally threatened a couple of them. "If you don't start hitting some people a little tougher than what you're doing I'm going to drop you," that kind of thing. And I intended to. In fact, we played some younger kids and part of that was because some guys who were bumped up like Astorino, (Jack) Crawford didn't play as much as he ordinarily would play because he's got a little bit of a thigh problem.
So we asked a lot of them. But I don't think ordinarily I think it would be pretty close to a normal week. Pretty close. But much more demanding in the sense that you know, couldn't go two plays and take one off. That kind of thing. We've got to get away from that. We'll get better. We had a good practice yesterday.
Q. Are you pleased with the development of the young tight ends so far this season and are you hoping they can become a bigger part of the passing game as the season progresses?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think they're making progress, but they're both freshmen kids (Garry Gilliam and Kevin Hapea) who are playing, and the other kid, (Jonathan) Stewart has been a fullback and tight end. A walk-on. Gave a grant to. We've got a ways to go there. I don't think we're home free there.
We've been using (Brett) Brackett as a tight end a lot in the sense that we put him in motion and we throw the ball to him a little bit more. Tight ends haven't caught a lot of passes. But they'll get better. They have potential.
But then they're certainly not there yet.
Q. As you correctly noted, Al Golden is a Penn State guy, as are both of his coordinators. Apart from the improvement in talent and personnel that they have at Temple, do you see much similar to what you guys do in terms of schemes and formation of packages, that sort of stuff?
COACH PATERNO: No, Matt Rhule was a walk on here, is also the offensive coordinator for Al at Temple. But they all have a little different background.
No, I think they're doing what Al's comfortable at doing. He's a very bright person, very, very... he's got good football instincts. He's got a good evaluation of people, those kinds of things.
And I think he's developing the Temple program the way he wants it done. Not necessarily just the way Penn State...now I'm sure there's some things that have happened here when he was captain of our team (1991) that maybe does carry over. But I don't see a lot of it in the scheme, the defensive schemes are a lot different than some of the things we do. Offensively, they do some things, couple things a lot better than we're doing.
And so I think overall Al may have learned some things from us. I don't know. But he's pretty much his own man.
Q. Royster has 31 carries, didn't play much in the second half (vs. Kent State). Is he one of the players that you had to challenge or do you expect to have to do that?
COACH PATERNO: I'm glad you changed your word from threatened to challenge. I never should have used the word "threaten." "Challenge" would have been a better way to express it.
I think that there's...we have a bunch of kids we're trying to bring along and be the best football team. And I think some of those younger kids need to get a chance to play some.
We knew what (Evan) Royster could do. We got ahead fairly early in that game. We had pretty good control of the football game. It was a good time to play some of the younger kids. We'd like to get (Silas) Redd in a little more. It's tough to play a lot of them. Particularly when we're playing a lot of football with one back and with the wideouts that we have.
But, no, I think Royster practiced really well last week. And I think he was ready to play a very, very solid football game on Saturday. I don't have any gripes with him. But I do have a concern about making sure that we keep some of the younger kids have an opportunity to get some exposure.
We have, as I said, Redd carried the ball three or four times. We like Redd. Obviously talked about (Stephfon) Green. I think Green's got some ability. And so talk about the tight end. We have true freshmen at tight end. The second one plays about six, seven plays, and every Monday I come in and say, "we've got to get him in a little more."
It's hard. It's hard to get them all in. But you are trying to develop where we've got depth and trying to give these kids some incentive. But once in a while we have to get out there and some of the older guys start to goof off a little bit, you challenge them.
Q. How hard is it to keep your team focused on this game? You've won 27 games in a row against Temple. They haven't scored a touchdown against you since 2003. How do you keep your team focused?
COACH PATERNO: Looking at some tapes. This is not the same Temple team that we've played. Last year they played well. We had some things happen to us that made it a little bit made the score look a little more impressive, last year.
But I think when they look at the tapes and they know the kids by the way, this is a young Temple team. Al's got a young team. And they play with a lot of enthusiasm. And, as I mentioned earlier, good size, good athletic ability. I think nowadays with all the tapes that are available and kids can take tapes home and the whole bit, unless they're stupid, they can take a look and see some of the people they're going to play against and they realize this is a better Temple team than any we've probably played in the 21 years or 23 years that was suggested.
Q. When Royster is in there, are you worried at all about the production you're getting from him?
COACH PATERNO: I don't know what you mean by worried.
Q. Production, Cory mentioned he's got 110 yards in 31, 32 carries so far this season.
COACH PATERNO: Why should I worry about that?
Q. I guess that's my that's what I'm asking.
COACH PATERNO: It isn't like he hasn't played. He's played for two years. He's carried the ball. Right now it hasn't been necessary for him to do any more than he's been able to do. Against Alabama, we'd like to have been able to get more out of him. We couldn't do a good enough job up front to give him any running room. And rather than stick him in there get him banged around all day, no, I really think we're doing all right with that.
And I think Royster...Royster practices hard. He's working at it. And I think, you're looking for a story and "what's wrong with Royster? He's in Joe's doghouse" or something like that? Royster you know, I've challenged all of those guys. I've said, "Come on, you've got to carry this football game. Gotta get these young guys to get to what it takes to win. Show them what practice is all about." And Royster has done that.
Q. Can you assess where the running game is right now especially in terms of the offensive line?
COACH PATERNO: I said that earlier, I don't think we're there yet. I think we've got a ways to go. And that's one of the reasons why, if you want to take some of the kids that said I was a little tougher on them last week, that's basically number one on defense. I don't think we tackled well early. I thought we could do a better job, we had better athletes than that. And I got on some of them to do a little better job tackling. And offensively, I'm still, we've got to get a little bit more consistent. Not a little bit. We've got to get more consistent with the offensive line so that a kid like you can stick a kid like Royster in there and give him the ball 11, 12, 13 times and he can have significant yardage.
Right now he's fighting for his life to get five.
Q. How has Andrew Szczerba been recovering from his injury?
COACH PATERNO: We just talked about that this morning. I don't think he's going to play this year. He hasn't done a thing. He hasn't even put on a uniform.
He comes out in street clothes. And we're trying to figure out what's best, because he's going to lose the whole year.
Q. Is there any sense of when staff at Temple knows you guys, knows your tendencies, maybe more so than the first three games you played this year, does that compound the challenge? And also their incentive of coming back here?
COACH PATERNO: I don't think there's any question that that's accurate. I think that to them and to all of the Temple people, all of the fans and Temple's got a big alumni group. As I said earlier, they had a history when I first came to Penn Stat. Temple was tough. In fact, after we were here a little while, Wayne Hardin was coaching there with Steve Joachim who transferred from here at quarterback, I don't think there's any question that those kids know enough about the place, they're not going to be awestruck coming into Beaver Stadium.
They've been here; most of the kids have been here. Obviously the three guys that are responsible for what they're doing have been here. And I would imagine looking forward to it. They've got a good, competitive football team and they can come up here and beat us.
And I think they're trying to that's what they want to do. If they can do that, obviously it's a milestone for them. And it's something that we certainly have to be ready for. We're going to have our hands full, I don't care any way you twist it.
But I do think with the points you make are absolutely accurate, they're right. They'll come up here with us, they're not going to - "boy, look at this place," kind of thing.
Q. This is a little off topic, but Penn State got a historic donation last week. And the establishment of a new arena and hockey programs. I wondered what you think about all that?
COACH PATERNO: I think it's absolutely great. For years and you get one friend and lose another one when sometimes you make a statement. I felt we made a mistake in building a baseball field. I thought that should have been the ice skating rink, because I think hockey in this state right now, not just hockey, but ice skating, if you come up to our office building at 6:00 in the morning, some mornings you can't get a parking spot because parents have taken their kids up here to skate. Because the ice skating rink is right next to the (Lasch Football) building.
And I think this facility that the generous gift that we got will not only be great for intercollegiate hockey, which I love. When I was at Brown, Brown had a great college hockey team. Went to the NCAA Finals one year. So I think hockey will be a great addition to our intercollegiate program.
But even more than that, it's another place people kids from 80 miles away can come up here and skate, youth skating and all those kinds of things that we're trying to find things for our young people to do. Whether it will be by building baseball fields, Little League baseball fields, this and that. So this is a great, great gift. And I think very far-sighted and I'm really pleased with it.
Q. Is Curtis Drake close to coming back?
COACH PATERNO: Curtis Drake, no, he hasn't done anything yet. In fact, he's still got some kind of a thing he takes to class, to walk to class. That's too bad, because he's one of the better athletes. Drake's really we were really looking forward to him doing some things that we had to give up, because he can throw the ball. He can run the ball. Heck of a receiver. But he's got...he's going to be okay. It's just going to take a while.
Q. Just to follow up, you did mention that you thought it was a mistake to build a baseball field. They've (Spikes) been pretty successful. Have you come around?
COACH PATERNO: I wanted the hockey rink (where Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is).
Q. Have you changed your feelings given their success over the last few years?
COACH PATERNO: The Spikes's success or Penn State baseball?
Q. The Spikes.
COACH PATERNO: I don't care about the Spikes. I care about Penn State baseball. All right? And I think baseball up north is a tough deal. When was the last time a Big Ten team or a northern team wase in the Final Four in Omaha? I mean in baseball, because of the fact that people are playing year round (in the south and west) and we're not.
I think the baseball field and Spikes is fine for people in the area. They have a place to go. They take their kids there. It's a good wholesome environment. It's a great facility and the whole bit. But I don't know how much it's done for our (Penn State) baseball. And you'd have to ask the baseball coach that. I used to go to a lot of baseball. But you've heard me tell the story, used to be an usher at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers moved out to Los Angeles, I said I haven't seen two baseball games since. And that's 60 some years.