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Oct. 19, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; -
Q. Joe, has Jack Crawford returned to practice, and if he hasn't, how long do you expect him and Eric Latimore to be out?
COACH PATERNO: Eric Latimore (wrist), I would be doubtful if we got anything more out of Eric the rest of the year. He may be ready for a game or two.
Crawford (foot)has not done anything yet. I thought he might try to jog yesterday, but he had a lot of pain in the morning so he's not done anything yet. I doubt he'll be ready this week. I doubt Crawford has a chance to be ready the following week. I doubt he'll be ready this week. I know Latimore is a couple more weeks.
Q. Given your injuries at the safety position, I was wondering, are you considering moving D'Anton Lynn from corner to safety?
COACH PATERNO: Not really, because he's just starting to get in the...where they are comfortable with each other. The secondary is a little bit ...I'm not so sure people quite understand how people have to react to each other whack there. They have got to talk to each other. They have to talk to each other with certain pass lanes. They have to get a feel for each other. When we were just starting to get better, when we lost Nick (Sukay), and might have been just swept in the whole business, we are just going to go with one of the younger kids (Malcolm Willis), and see what happens. But we have not, we have not even thought about moving the other kid.
Q. What are your thoughts on Minnesota replacing Tim Brewster in the middle of the season?
COACH PATERNO: I'm sorry to see it. I liked Tim. He's an easy guy to be around, an out-going guy. I worried a little bit about him in the sense that he built up expectations for the Minnesota people, and I think he underestimated just how long it was going to take. It takes a while to get a team together and probably more so this year than any other year because the Big Ten is tougher this year than it's been. It's really gotten tough.
So I feel sorry for him. I think he's a really good person. I hope he'll be able...if he wants to stay in coaching, that he gets something that he can use his enthusiasm and his love of the game, because I think he really has got the makings of a fine coach.
And I could not...after watching them play, you couldn't say, "hey, they are a poorly coached football team. " That would be inaccurate. I think once in awhile they have bad games as we all do, but overall I thought he did a good job and I'm sorry to see him go.
Q. After the Illinois game you said you personally didn't do a very good job coaching. During the bye week, how did you address your personal coaching and what did you try to do better personally?
COACH PATERNO: Well, we have got a lot of holes in the wall in my house right now (laughter).
I didn't do a good job in the sense that, you know, the little things. And there again, the makeup of the team has been changing every week. It's been a tough job (this season). Probably as tough as any time I've been in coaching.
We start out the year without three of the guys, three really good players (all injured)...(Curtis) Drake is probably the best athlete we have. And (Andrew) Szczerba was a tight end and he hasn't done a thing yet and neither has Drake. And (Brandon) Beachum, they were three guys...then you start out, with a freshmen quarterback, and I never quite got ahold of the group.
We knew we had troubles with Iowa and Alabama away, but I felt that once we got that under our belt that we could kind of create some kind of a morale, get a little bit more enthusiasm, get a little bit more of a swagger, and I didn't get that across.
So, I'm one of those coaches, I've been very fortunate. Going back to Brewster, he has not been as lucky as I've been able to keep coaches as long as I've kept them, and they do a terrific job. And it bothers me that once in awhile they get criticized for something. It really has to come from me. And I didn't, I just didn't get them ready. We were flat.
We didn't play like, we didn't have a lot of enthusiasm and didn't seem to enjoy the game. I don't know who else you can blame but the boss.
Q. You mentioned morale and enthusiasm, is there anything in the bye week that you did that got through the kids with that? Do you see any signs of maybe some improvement in that regard?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think we've got to see. I thought we would play better against Illinois than we did. We had had a good week of practice (prior to Illinois). This last week, we practiced three days, one day with pads, full pads, and the weekend off, to give them a chance to get caught up academically, give them a chance to get rested up a little bit, because it's been a tough season for a lot of these young guys.
And I'm hopeful that they have had a chance to back away, spend a little time with each other where they are not worried about what's...they are not practicing that particular day last week, only three days. I'm hopeful we are going to come out and play with a lot more enthusiasm that we have played with, but there again, we'll have to see.
Q. Following up, did you see a noticeable improvement in enthusiasm yesterday?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think I answered that question. I thought we had some enthusiasm before Illinois. I don't know, if we all have an enthusiasm meter on the field, the enthusiasm field was pointed...you just don't know. You know, a couple of things happened yesterday, kids seem to be a little bit more relaxed. But we'll see.
Q. NCAA coaches don't get fired that often midseason. Would Minnesota maybe have been more patient with Brewster 20 years ago; with so much pressure to win and make money for the program, is there too much of that going on right now?
COACH PATERNO: Oh, boy. I don't know all of the details with the Minnesota situation. And I don't want to be critical of either side. I just know ...I don't really know the athletic director. I don't know the cast of characters that would have made the decision to let Brewster go.
But I do know that it's tougher. I don't think there's any question; I think the way Bobby Bowden was handled was a result of some alumni that felt, "hey..." With Brewster, without having read anything about it, I would imagine that the fact that they built that stadium and probably put a lot of money into it, and they are expecting for it to produce money. Because I think everybody needs...without a profitable football team, it's very tough to make money unless maybe you're at Duke with basketball or someplace like that where the basketball draws as it does. Not only as far as fans, but boosters and that kind of stuff.
Other than that, football has got to pretty much carry the whole thing. But I would not point fingers at anybody without knowing what I'm talking about.
Q. Playing against an opponent that had their coach fired the week of the game, and talking about enthusiasm and attitude, do you have any idea or suspicion about what effect that might have on the Minnesota kids, because they have had a tough season, too.
COACH PATERNO: Yeah, it's interesting. I asked the staff that question, I said, I had forgotten we had played a couple of clubs where their coach was fired. Michigan State let a coach go in the middle of the year one year when we played them and so forth.
And nobody really knows how they are going to react. You don't know the relationship of the players to the new coach. I don't know the new coach (Jeff Horton). I know of him. I know his background, but I've never sat around and spent time with him as I have with Brewster and some other people that are involved with the Nike people. So I don't know.
I don't think we can worry about that. I think we have got to worry about Penn State. I think we have got to play better, more consistent. We have got to make some plays. We have not made some plays that would have made us a little bit more competitive, whether it's catching the football, or other things.
We have not done well enough in that area. I'm more worried about us than anybody else because there's nothing I can do about what's going to happen at Minnesota in regards to the new coach. I can look at their personnel, look at their quarterback (Adam Weber), who I think is a good football player, I can look at what they are doing with their tight ends and things of that sort, but I can't tell you what the relationship will be with the team and the new head coach.
Q. Are you expecting Gerald Hodges to play this week and can you update us on the health of your other banged up linebackers, guys like (Michael) Mauti and (Bani) Gbadyu?
COACH PATERNO: Hodges practiced yesterday. I think Hodges will be ready to play. Now, he's a little rusty and hasn't done anything in about three or four weeks and we are hopeful he'll be okay.
I think that Mauti and Gbadyu will be ready.
Q. Two weeks ago, before the Illinois game, you said: "Winning is certainly very, very high on our priorities, but I don't think it's a must win game in terms of we either win it or else." Given where you are this season and going into this game against Minnesota's team that's also struggling, can this be described as a must win game or tilting point game for your season?
COACH PATERNO: I think we have to play well. I think we have to play better than we have played last week, or two weeks ago, when we played Illinois. I think that's the big thing as far as I'm concerned.
A lot of things can happen in a football game, some of which you don't have control of. So I'm really looking for us to play better, with more enthusiasm. As I said earlier, we have got to make some plays, we have got to make some things happen for ourselves, and until then, we are going to struggle.
Now, all I'm trying to do when I answer your question is tell you, I'm not looking to get into a situation where we must, got to win this game.
We've got to play better, period.
Q. In this two week period, have you done much personnel tinkering?
COACH PATERNO: We came away from the Illinois game with the idea that, hey, we had some problems, but looking at the thing, our offensive line is getting more maligned than maybe they should and that's probably more for anybody else in the sense that I keep telling them, well, we have been young and we have had kids banged up and that kind of stuff.
We debated that. We were going to make a couple of switches, but after looking at the Illinois game, we decided we were okay, we are not going to make a lot of switches. I challenged the team. I said, "we have to make some plays." We have played enough football games now that we ought to be able to go out there and understand how the game is won. We lost, and this is a week that we have got to do some things, and I think we are going to let it go that way. I know that's not specific, but really have not changed much. Because some of it's because we have got some kids bumped up, too.
Q. What did you tell Greg Schiano when he called you up this weekend?
COACH PATERNO: Boy, that's a toughie. (Adam) Taliaferro, that happened at Ohio State and the Ohio State people and our people did a good job. And the only thing that I think as a head coach you can do is make sure that you are available.
We came back (from Ohio State in 2000) and I flew out the first thing the next morning to see Adam, and told him to hang in there. It would be different if it was something that we could do about making it not happen, but it's happened. Greg called Saturday night and then he talked to Dr. Sebastianelli a little bit about it. Adam had a marvelous recovery. He's a lawyer. He's practicing law. He's getting married...
I said, I gave him (Schiano) a positive part of what might happen, but each one of those things are different, and it will be tough. It will be tough for him and the team no matter how you twist it. I just tried to encourage him and tell them to hang in there.
Q. Sean Stanley was charged by police with a drug charge
COACH PATERNO: Next question. I'm not going to get into that nonsense.
Q. Just going back to the Rutgers situation, how hard is it to get the team refocused after an injury like that?
COACH PATERNO: Again, you're not dealing with inanimate objects. The makeup of a football team, the team we had until Taliaferro was hurt; the makeup of that team is different than the makeup if something happened to our football team maybe this year, I don't know.
I don't know the Rutgers kids. Obviously, it's going to take some leadership on their team as well as their coaching staff. It's not going to be easy. But I just don't really...I can't answer that question. I think they have got to face the problem, and a couple of people have got to come to the front and put, convince people that we have got to put it behind us, and we are going to be there to support a teammate. He's got to know we are there to help. But we would expect every one of us to go out there and play hard and play well and do the best we can and go from there.
So, but again, each team is different. You're dealing with 19, 20-year-old kids that all of a sudden...they are not indestructible.
Q. There has been discussion about the assistant coaches and not all being on the same page, would you address that if your assistants if you are all on the same page?
COACH PATERNO: The assistants are great. They are doing a great job.
Q. Has there been much in-fighting at all?
COACH PATERNO: Oh, no. For crying out we have been together. No. Don't imagine things, all right.?
Q. I wanted to see your reaction, talk about Minnesota offensively with Weber and some of their weapons that they have and the challenges that they present this weekend. I know that they have kind of a tough time at times but they are still fairly dangerous.
COACH PATERNO: Oh, I think they are dangerous. I think they have a fine line. The Purdue game is a little misleading. I think you're right. I think that they do some things very well. We'll have to...their backs are tough. They run tough. They have a good scheme. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They don't put the ball on the ground carelessly.
I think we have got a tough game ahead of us. This is not going to be an easy football game. This is going to be a tough, tough football game.
And I hope, as I said earlier, I just hope we are better mentally and that we understand what it takes to win a tough football game. And I go back to making some plays. Got to catch the ball when you've got shot at it, you've got to make a big catch, you've got to make somebody miss. We have got to create some turnovers and takeaways. There are things that make a difference. They are the things that we have to do, because Minnesota is a good football...a good, solid football team. They have lost to some good teams.
Q. You said you didn't make any personnel changes, but I understand if Chaz (Powell) is back on defense again, is that something you felt you had to do again?
COACH PATERNO: He came to me and talked about it, and he wasn't playing as much offensively as we thought he might play when we moved him over to offense.
So he asked me to put him back and I said yeah, so he's back at corner.
Q. At the halfway part of the season, can you talk about your quarterback, and has he given you has he shown you anything that increases your confidence in him or trust in him as you had down the second half?
COACH PATERNO: I don't quite get the drift of that. He's a true freshman.
And again, I keep going back to, we didn't have him in the spring. Everything that comes up is new to him. We didn't have the luxury. We don't have the luxury of the first games we have played to experiment with different things and try different things. We have had to just kind of bring him along.
But I think he's getting at that stage where now he's a guy that's got to make some plays, too. I mean, I think we can say, okay, but he's not ...he's playing football now that he's got to start making some things happen. Hopefully he will. But I think he's done about as well as you can expect the kid.
Iowa and Alabama are two of the better teams, on the road, and Illinois played well. I mean, that kid had a good day, the (Illinois) quarterback was, you know, didn't throw the ball at us and the whole bit. Actually, against Illinois, our problem was defense. You guys talk offensive line, you talk this and that; our problem was defense. You know, when you're thinking about the people such as a true freshman (Rob Bolden) at quarterback, we had a tight end , a true freshman playing tight end (Kevin Haplea). We lost the first two tight ends. Lost our starting tackle, (Lou) Eliades.
So I think that's a very tough evaluation of that offensive line. I don't think it's quite fair. But we have got to start making some plays offensively, no question about it. But even at Iowa, we had two catches (dropped passes); we make the two catches, we are going to at least keep us in the football game.
Q. Last week Sports Illustrated cover story was dealing with sports agents and college football, and an agent apparently gave his story in which he talked about giving money to a lot of kids at various programs; not Penn State, but what is your thought about sports agents in college football in general? And how has Penn State done in keeping away from the kids?
COACH PATERNO: Well, we talk about it all the time. Sometimes you guys get upset because I keep practice closed. I don't want a lot of people around that I don't know.
Now, that doesn't mean that I can keep them from going into the dormitory, or, you know, meeting them someplace. And I'm not naïve to think that we haven't had some kids maybe talk to agents or maybe even do some things that he shouldn't have done. I'm not pointing the finger at anybody. But it's a tough...I think it's something that we have got to address, college coaches, and it's getting right down to the high school kids right now. There are some high school kids that these agents are fooling around with already.
So I think we are okay. But I wish...you know what I mean, I'm not sure. We talk all the time, and I talk to the assistant coaches and there again, I go back, the assistant coaches are constantly talking to the kids they recruited or who was in their meeting room and all that kind of stuff, trying to now they are not doing this or point out that what is it, Sports Illustrated that the article was in? I didn't read it.
It's a whole...I don't, but it's going on all over the place. I hope that our guys are not getting involved. But if you ask me, "you're 100 percent sure it's not going?" No, I'm not 100 percent sure. Not going to point fingers at anybody either. I don't think it's happening, but who knows?
Q. Is one of the biggest challenges with you and your staff with the injuries being what they are kind of trying to evaluate your team with these guys trying to play together in game conditions, considering you've had to swap guys out based on availability throughout the campaign?
COACH PATERNO: I think that's something that goes on regardless of when you have a lot of people who haven't played a lot of football. The injuries have certainly made it tougher. Now, how much tougher, I don't know.
But any time you get a bunch of kids that haven't played together and haven't had a lot of experience, it takes a while to get them to know each other well enough to think, they are comfortable, :you have to take that guy, you're supposed to help me out, this guy," that kind of stuff.
One of the first questions that was asked was about moving people around in the secondary, and that's the point I made. You have to be careful how you start moving people around and they start to get used to each other a little bit. And now you accommodate each other, and I think that's true regardless of whether injuries get done.
Obviously injuries make it a little bit tougher. Football is a game and with the kind of equipment we are using these days, there's more and more injuries. It's not just us. You take a look at the kid at Rutgers and a couple other around the country that have lost good players. We are not the only people that have lost players. We may have lost more than maybe most people but that's not the reason I'm not going to use that as an excuse.
We have to have some people rise to the occasion, that's all. And that will happen. One of these day, we'll get a couple guys to make some plays and they will start feeling good about themselves and they will bring some people with them.
Q. Are you going to try to ease Chaz defensively? What are your expectations of Chad in his first game on defense?
COACH PATERNO: We are going to play him at corner. Well, he's got to make a spot for himself. He asked...I thought I said he came and asked if he could try it over on defense, because he wasn't playing as much as he thought, and he didn't play as much as I thought he would be offensively. So we moved him to defense, see what he can do there. See if he can help the team more there and help himself.
It was his idea. I didn't go to him. All right?