I'm The Luckiest Man Here. My Hearing Aid Doesn't Work.

That quote is from former Penn State football radio broadcaster Fran Fisher, as he sat in the back of the media room inside Beaver Stadium yesterday.  Yeah, I miss Frannie too:

Enis scores the game winner in the '97 PSU vs. OSU game (via BeltwayLandLion)


Anyway, Fisher's quote could not have been more appropriate for a Joe Paterno preseason press conference.  If you've paid attention to these things at any point during the last 25 years, you already know Paterno's answers.  We're not very good right now.  I'm just worried about [name of first opponent].  They have a [totally obscure skill position player] who can really give us trouble.  I don't know what I'd do if I wasn't coaching.  I don't know why you guys care about this stuff.  I'm just happy to not be dead. You shut up.

Okay, okay, here's the actual quote:

Nothing excites me yet. I'll be honest with you, we're lousy. I have nothing to be excited about right now as a team. I'm serious about that. We got too many things we got to get accomplished. I mean, we got a lot of work ahead of us to be a good football team. So I'm excited to be alive. That's about it.

If you really care, FOS provides a handy audio file of Paterno's presser

As for actual news, there was some:

A.J. Wallace -- Supposedly could be suspended by Paterno for a few games to start the season for cutting classes:

"Yeah, I told A.J. I might not play him in a game or two because he cut classes," Paterno said. "If he cuts any more classes, he won’t play. I think you gotta send a message. No sense sending a message if somebody isn’t a player. He’s obviously one of our better players.

"I think he’ll be all right. Now, when I’ll play him will depend on what I hear back from our academic advisors, and find out whether he’s going to class and he’s doing what he’s supposed to do academically. If he does, then we’ll think about when we want to play him."

In my view, Wallace is the most important player to the defense this season.  If he plays up to his potential -- and haven't we been saying that since he arrived? -- he could be a tremendous asset to a Nittany Lion secondary which is rightfully perceived as a weakness in 2009, and spent a good portion of 2008 doing this:


Suck! Suck! Suck! (via 3Honks)


Whatever A.J. Wallace's issues are (and I'm afraid to even guess at this point), if Penn State is going to be even remotely competent in the secondary, he needs to get on the field and be productive.  To this point in his career as a defensive back, he hasn't done much of either.  And he's supposed to be our good cornerback.

Daryll Clark -- Supposedly has "more swagger".  Hard to know what the hell that even means, because he wasn't exactly a shrinking violet last year.  Every Clark article inevitably includes the required "must not get another concussion" warning, but the York Daily Record article gets to the heart of his other big problem in 2008:

So what can Clark do better, do differently?

One is limiting his knack for fumbling. He said carrying the ball higher and tighter against his chest should help.

Isn't "oh crap, you better not get hit" a bad thing to endlessly drill into the head of a quarterback?

The Offensive Line -- Rightfully has Paterno worried.  DeOnt'ae Pannell is your starter at right tackle, due to the coaches' desire to have Dennis Landolt protect Clark's blind side:

The Pannell-Landolt switch leads one to believe that the staff is not entirely comfortable yet with more than just the instability at left guard, where Johnnie Troutman and his sore hamstring had a summer of training that underwhelmed Paterno and thrust redshirt freshman Matt Stankiewitch onto the first team as of Wednesday.

Pannell needs time and work to acquire what football players always call "game speed."
"He's already used to the speed of the game," admitted Pannell of Landolt. "I'm still getting comfortable with it. I think that's the main reason they're doing it."


Navarro Bowman -- I'll just lift this from Mark Wogenrich's excellent Morning Call blog entry this morning:

The linebacker said his offseason trouble is behind him and he’s doing the community service that was an issue at his parole violation hearing last spring. "I think that he realized that he's wasting a great opportunity in his life," Paterno said.

Bowman said he and Paterno met, with each explaining his side. Bowman said he wanted the coach to understand how the recent deaths of his father and high school coach affected him. Asked if Paterno did, Bowman said, "I’m still here, so I think he did understand."

And while we're on that Morning Call blog, a bit about Brandon Ware:

Every time someone brings up the intriguing redshirt freshman defensive end from Harrisburg, Paterno mentions his weight. "Brandon Ware is 20 pounds away from even coming close to being a football player," Paterno said Thursday. "He’s just too heavy."

Ware checks in at 340, about 45 pounds lighter than last year. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. pegged Ware’s weight closer to 5-10 pounds too much. But Paterno’s point went more to discipline than to size.

Poor guy.  I hope we see him on the field this season, because he apparently has a ton of skill and quickness for a big boy (and his Twitter/Facebook pages are hilarious -- he's truly a legend in waiting). 

Wide receivers -- Not causing Paterno nearly as much worry because most of them have playing experience, as opposed to the offensive linemen.  We know that Graham Zug, Brett Brackett, Chaz Powell, and Derek Moye return for Penn State, but that hasn't stopped the coaching staff from trying some formations with Stephfon Green at running back and Evan Royster in the slot.

If the guys moving up the depth chart stumble, and if Royster's occasionally sliding over to slotback proves to be more of a gimmick than a staple of the offense, Paterno and McQueary could take longer looks at a couple of true freshmen who could work their way into the rotation. [Justin] Brown, a 6-3, 210-pounder from Wilmington, was widely considered the best prep player in Delaware a year ago, and it'll be interesting to see whether super-quick Devon Smith, just 5-7 and 153 pounds, can find his way onto the field in some capacity. Smith, from Waldorf, Md., ran the fastest 55- and 60-meter dashes in the nation during the 2009 high school indoor season and he won the 60-meter national title in March in a time of 6.63 seconds.

That's not a misprint, of course:  5'7", 153 pounds.  To see this in action, just do yourself a favor and skip to 2:15 of this video:

Devon Smith Returns Kickoff for Touchdown (via allinbroadcasting)


Finally, the guys over at the Patriot-News would like to know, what's up with Joe Paterno's tooth?

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