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Joe Paterno Press Conference - 10/24/06

Many questions to answer this week. As usual, Paterno isn't much on answers.

After looking at film, do you feel the same way about your offense as you did Saturday?

There were some aspects of it that were better than I thought they were. Overall, I didn't think it was a particularly good performance by us. Whether it was as bad as I felt after the game on Saturday, that is hard. If you are not happy, you are not happy about it. I think we can do better, but we had some people do some things well. When you make a statement about, "Everybody was bad" or the team was bad, there is a tendency to make it sound as if everybody was bad. Not everybody was bad. We are talking offense now. Obviously, on the defense we did some things better. We have a ways to go. I was a little disappointed that we didn't play a little better. More than a little disappointed, obviously.

Okay, so not everyone sucked. But one or two players not doing the job on every play means all the difference.

How did you think Gerald Cadogan and Chris Auletta did in relief for the two players that were pulled on the offensive line? How would you evaluate the play of the line after eight games?

With the changes and some of the injuries, with Levi Brown hurt for awhile and then Robert Price hurt, and moving people back and forth in different arrangements, we are not a very cohesive unit. We have played some pretty good defensive football teams. Illinois is not a great football team at this stage, but they were very aggressive, good size, ran well and did a couple of things, obviously, that bothered us. We just didn't do a very good job with them. I think Cadogan has a long way to go. Auletta is probably a little further along. Neither one has played a lot of football so I have to be careful of just how critical I am of them.

I've been thinking this is a problem for the past few years. Penn State subs guys in and out all the time and I find myself scratching my head every time I see Derrick Williams running off the field and Brendan Perretta coming on. Sometimes you have to pull guys. Robert Price looked horrible on the first two series and deserved to get yanked. But sometimes they substitute just for the sake of substituting and I wonder what effect that has on cohesiveness.

Do you ask Anthony (Morelli) to check plays at the line of scrimmage or is the play that is called going to get run most of the time?

There are some that we feel we can run against anything that comes up. There are others we have to check out. Anthony has the prerogative of doing that. We try to help him out because there are certain plays we want to go on quick and there are certain plays that we want to control the tempo of the game, so we don't have any checks on the line of scrimmage, but when we are concerned about some play against a certain look, we give him an opportunity to change the play.

If Morelli changes plays at the line he must be using mental telepathy, because I'm not seeing it. I hang my head and groan every time we line up with three tight ends and a fullback in the redzone with all 11 guys in the box and still run up the middle. Those must be the plays Joe says he feels they can run against anything. Yeah. Right.

When you assess the breakdowns in the offensive line, is it more a case of guys just getting beaten physically or is it a case where people are just blowing assignments?

If you held me against the wall, I would have to say that there are a couple of things, and I am not sure I am right on them...number one, we probably worked them a little bit too hard last week because of the fact that we didn't know whether we would have Morelli or (Daryll) Clark, and we had to get enough reps in there for Paul Cianciolo and Kevin Suhey in order for them to feel comfortable if we had to play with them, because we weren't sure that Morelli or Clark could play until Thursday morning. By that time, we had worked pretty darn hard. I think you have to take that and a couple of kids talked to me about their legs were very tired and didn't have a lot of bounce and zip. I think that is one factor. The other factor is that the combination hasn't been consistent. We are not doing anything different from week to week, but we are doing it with different people. That has hurt them. I am hopeful that we will get better.

Kudos to the reporters for asking some tough questions. So Joe is blaming the poor offensive line play on them being tired and the fact that they are substituting too much. Maybe there is some truth to that, but I'm tired of hearing excuses every week and I'm tired of hearing promises they will get better with no results.

You have been around some pretty good return guys over the years. What makes guys like A.J. Wallace so good? Is it purely an instinctual thing?

I think all good return guys have to have speed. That is a prime asset and he has speed. Then, I think, you have to have eyes and vision. They have to be able to see open spots and cracks and take advantage them. Sometimes, you get a kid back there who has got great speed, but he doesn't see what is happening up there. A.J. is a kid with a lot of speed, confidence in himself and has good vision.

No doubt, A.J. Wallace is going to be fun to watch the next few years. You can see each week he is getting closer to breaking one. On one kick return he had a crack but cut back to the middle of the field. Had he cut outside instead I'm sure he would have been gone. Once he sees these things on film and learns to get outside he's going to be amazing.

Because Saturday was Homecoming, did you have any special plans after the game as far as family or friends and were you able to kind of forget about it for a little while or get away from the game on Saturday night?

My son, Jay, had a birthday on Saturday so they had a birthday party and we were over there with a lot of friends, Jay's friends, former alumni and a lot of people were there. I spent a couple of hours there. Football is a seven day a week job. You never really put it behind you for any day. I went over there for a couple of hours, we came home and I started to try to figure out what we might be able to do to make us a better football team against Purdue. I didn't spend a lot of time with it. I was glad we won because we have such wonderful fans and wonderful alumni, and I think it adds to the weekend festivities, although I am not so sure that they wouldn't have a good time without a football game if you could get them all together.

Sheesh. Can we keep to the topic of football? Joe only sits in these pressers for about 15 minutes. If you want to catch up on old times save it for after the meeting.

Andrew Quarless has looked good on a couple of receptions throughout the season, maybe even Kevin Darling, but they haven't seemed to get a whole lot of use. What is your take on the tight end situation as far as receiving goes?

I think we are OK. We have dropped passes and once in awhile they don't run the right routes and that has made it tough on the quarterback. Quarless is a true freshman and once in awhile he gets a little knocked out of whack and coming off the ball and people shoving him around a little bit, he just hasn't had enough experience to handle some of that stuff. He is certainly a fine prospect and, hopefully, we will get the ball more to him. Until we can do a little better job pass protecting without keeping people in, we can release the tight end anytime you want to release him because you are able to handle enough people inside without troubles. We have a lot of good receivers...wideouts and good receivers. We are not probably throwing the ball enough to the backs or the tight ends, but a lot of that is because we have to use them for pass protection.

Has anyone else noticed Quarless catches a ball or at least has one thrown his way in the first series of every game? And then THEY DON'T GO BACK TO HIM! It's like the coaches do it first to open up the outside passing game and then they think they can pass outside the whole rest of the game. Illinois threw us completely off guard running the option this weekend. Why don't we do that with throwing to the tight end?

A couple of the players on offense last season in recalling the 2004 season, they remarked about how they felt there was some pressure on them to do better because the defense had played so well in 2004 and offensively they hadn't contributed as much. Is sort of a similar situation possibly evolving now and is there a little bit of a split between the offense and the defense?

No, no, no. There wasn't any split. I don't know what you are really referring to in the year 2004 so I can't compare this year with 2004.

Interesting question. Also interesting how Paterno blew it off. I can't imagine the defense is happy when they force stop after stop and the offense gives the ball right back.

How old was Jay on his birthday?

I haven't got the slightest idea of how old Jay is. Do you want me to be honest? I don't know how old he is. When you have as many kids and grandkids as I got running around the house, you don't really know how old any of them are.

This has got to be the stupidest question I have ever heard in a Joe Paterno press conference. Who cares how old Jay is? I'm sure you can probably look it up in his bio and figure it out for yourself. Dumbass.

Do you think there is anything more that Levi Brown can do in terms of leadership to help the offensive line along?

They just have to have some success. It is tough when nothing good is happening. Our running game has almost been nil the last two games. We weren't that bad earlier, particularly against a couple of really fine defensive football teams. I think they just have to get together and make up their minds that they are going to do some things better, and we have to do a little better job coaching. It is as simple as that. I don't think Levi can carry it alone. A lot of people have to rise to the occasion. I really, honestly feel that I worked them a little too hard last week. We will see what happens this week.

Classic Joe. Loyal to the sinking ship until it hits the bottom of the ocean. We're in week nine now. At what point is the offensive line going to "get together and make up their minds that they are going to do some things better?"

What does Purdue show that may create problems?

Purdue has gotten much better lately. Earlier in the year, they gave up a lot of yards. The last couple of games, they played solid football. They have a couple of really outstanding down guys. One of those defensive ends, I think is #49, I am a number guy, not a name guy, is an outstanding defensive end (Anthony Spencer). I think he is leading the Big Ten in sacks. Their linebackers are getting better each week. It is a fairly young team. They have two corners that I don't think were with them last year. Overall, they are getting better as they go along. Are they at the level of one or two of the teams we played earlier, not yet, but the couple of teams we played against earlier were probably as good of defensive teams as we have played against around here in 10 years, maybe. They are getting better each week and playing with more confidence. It will be a tough ball game.

Got to pay respect to the opponent. How much is respect and how much is fear? I don't know.

Do you have an idea of who you will start this week on the offensive line?

I haven't got the slightest idea yet. That is the only problem with this press conference on a Tuesday. We went out yesterday without any pads, just helmets, to go over some mistakes and try to get a little more balance in the legs and not do the same things we did a week ago when we had to go out there and do a lot of hard work on Monday and end up being a tired football team. We won't work as hard this week, but we will make our minds up Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how some kids practice.

In my opinion, Price needs to sit. He has been horrible all year. Cadogen hasn't been much better, but he's a sophomore and Price is a senior. Cadogen is most likely going to be the starter next year. Since he and Price seem to be interchangeable, you may as well play him now IMO. Same thing with Shaw and Auletta. If your underclassman is playing on an equal level with the upperclassman, play they younger guy and start building the experience.

It doesn't seem that you guys are using the middle of the field in the passing game. Are they taking that away more?

Part of that is pass protection. It takes awhile to get some guys in there over the middle. You have to get somebody up in front of them or those linebackers are going to eat you up. We have linebackers today that are playing better, different games. I think it is a good observation that we are not throwing the ball as much over the middle as we would like to do it, but that takes a little time to get that thing developed. A couple of times we tried, but we just have to start with pass protection and have to do a better job.

This guy wins the Question of the Day Award. Interesting take on Paterno's answer. I just wrote it up to a lack of confidence in the tight ends and horrible play calling in not using crossing routes and post patterns. I hadn't thought about middle routes taking longer to develope. I'm not sure I buy into it, based on my EA Sports NCAA experience. It seems to me if they are blitzing their linebackers a lot a slant route to the split end should be wide open.

Is (Greg) Harrison out for the year?

He gave it up.

Have you been in a time warp for the past month? This was news a month ago. This guy must have been some from local town newspaper doing a story on the local kid.

What is the biggest improvement that you have seen in Anthony Morelli throughout this season?

I think Anthony started out a little bit skeptical about what it was going to take and each week he has gotten a little bit more confident and is a asserting himself more. In all fairness to him, the only criticism I have had of him is that he has held that ball a couple of times too long and gotten sacked. In all fairness to him, he didn't hold it too long, we can't block that long right now. It has to be a whole different tempo for him. He has a really tough job right now. I think he is doing a very, very good job with everything considered. I really do.

Morelli seems like he carries a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Do you ever tell him to lighten up or to go and have a little bit of fun because I know that is something that you tell your players a lot?

It is always very touchy with how you approach these things. I tell the whole squad to go out and have a little bit of fun. What is the sense of playing if you can't? Having said that, you can't go out there and be stupid. You can't be too loosey goosey. You have to be able to concentrate when the time comes to concentrate. I think he does. By nature, he is not a talkative kid. He is a serious kid. He is not a kid that needs a lot of attention. He is a really nice young man.

I have to agree with Joe. There have been times Morelli has held the ball too long, but most times he has a guy in his face right away. I can't be as hard on him as I am on the offensive line for not blocking and the coaches for not mixing up the playcalling.

Can you talk about Paul Posluszny's play? Does he look pretty comfortable now?

I thought Paul has played very well. Saturday he must have made eight or ten tackles. I don't know. Paul is a heck of a football player. Whether he is more comfortable or not comfortable...I don't go up to him and say, "Paul, are you comfortable? Do you feel more comfortable?" No, you go out there and practice. Some days he is going to have some problems and people are going to do some things to him. He is not Superman. He can't take on a whole football team by himself. He knows what has to be done and he has done it. I think he is playing really well.

I love that. Paul, are you comfortable? Do you feel more comfortable? Can I get you a beverage? Why don't you go sit down.

On Saturday, the offense was in a lot of 2nd and 3rd and longs. Is there going to be added emphasis this week in trying to get things done better on first downs?

There will be an emphasis to do better on everything.

Thank you Captian Obvious.

Do you think that (Kevin) Kelly is pressing a little bit?

He has been very good in practice. That is hard to tell. He is a non-complainer and never says, "boo." He never complains about the hold or anything like that. We got ourselves in a little bit of a mindset when we were so sloppy with the holder. We tried a fake field goal early in the year and the holder was supposed to take it and go up the gut, the same play when Joe Nastasi scored against Michigan, and he slips. It has been one of those things that compound themselves and, I think, that he may be just a little bit cautious about what is going to happen. I don't know. I have tried to encourage him and he seems fine. I don't sense a lot of pressure on him, except nobody likes to miss one.

How does a kicker "press"? Seriously. They go out and kick the ball and try to do it exactly the same way every time. It's not like a linebacker trying to jump on a play or a corner trying to break early on a route. It's not like a quarterback trying to thread a needle and throw into coverage. It's kicking. Dumb question.

This is off the track a little bit, but I see the Pac-10 teams have byes. Are you guys talking to the Big Ten about extending the season that you can play after Thanksgiving, or do you prefer it the way it is?

The coaches unanimously at our Big Ten meetings tried to convince the athletic directors that we ought to have a bye. A lot of us didn't want 12 games. I don't think 12 games in a row is good. We have a guy who is the head of the NCAA, Myles Brand, says, "Well, an off-week doesn't do any good for them academically." He doesn't know what he is talking about. I have already talked to our trainers and to our doctors. I said, "Years ago, you guys made us cut down on spring practice from 20 days to 15 days and then you cut out how many days we could put full pads on because you were concerned about injuries and then you let them schedule us 12 games in a row." The Big Ten is the only outfit that can't get a bye. I don't know why the reason is that we can't play a game after Thanksgiving. I wish we had a bye week. I think it gives the kids a chance to get caught up on their studies. These kids get behind in term papers and they can't help it; particularly, when you are playing freshmen. They are in there trying to stay up with it and it is a whole different world to them. I think it is a very bad decision made by the Big Ten and it is hard for me to appreciate what the presidents would be thinking when they allow 12 straight weeks in the season. I made the point at the meeting of the Big Ten, I said, "Last year we had 11 games with an off week and this year we have 12 games without an off week." That is a big, big difference. Don't get me started on that. You know why we are playing 12. I know you are not naïve.

I see what he's saying. I guess I'm indifferent either way. The bye week is nice if you have other things to do that weekend. But as a fan I would almost rather have a game every weekend. I would prefer the Big Ten go to a ten game schedule and drop some loser OOC games.

Coach, on Saturday you used the word "lousy" a lot to describe the team. Earlier, you said you felt they played a little better when you watched them on tape. Do you still stand by the "lousy?"

I just wanted to make sure...I hate not to get up here and just teach you guys a new word or two and how to spell it.

More classic "I really don't like the media" Paterno.

Can you talk about the progress that your secondary has made, the younger guys? Was last weekend kind of a breakthrough game for some of them? How is Donnie Johnson?

Donnie Johnson is OK. He worked yesterday. We didn't do much, but what we did, he did. I don't think one game makes it a breakthrough. The quarterback at Illinois is an inexperienced freshman kid, who is really going to be a good quarterback. He is a true freshman, but his forte right now is running the football. I think we have some things to prove. I think this week will be a good week for us to find out just what kind of pass defense we can play. It is a very sophisticated pass offense, very poised and very precise. In practice, I think we are making progress and reacting to the ball a little better. They are getting to know each other a little better and adjust to each other. I think we are getting better, but until we do something against a quarterback of this stature, I am reluctant to say just how much better we have gotten.

This is good news if he's healthy. With Purdue you need all of the defensive backs you can get. If he's a step slow it could be disasterous.

You mentioned earlier about keeping the tight ends and the backs in to block. What are some other things you can do to help that offensive line out scheme-wise?

That is one of the reasons why when Neil asked me the question about, "It doesn't seem like you are throwing that much over the middle?" Yeah, because there is no sense throwing over the middle unless you can...We just have to get better. I don't think there is any one simple answer to it. When you look at the stats, our problem is not the pass game. Our problem is the running game. It is hard to throw the football when you can't run any better than we have been able to run. I think that if we run better, then play action passes and things like that make themselves available to you, but if you can't run, then it is going to be tough to throw the football. We are pecking away. I don't know how else to tell you. I can't give you an answer to some of the questions because it just comes back to we have to keep working at it.

You almost get the impression Joe feels like they are stuck in a vicious cycle. We can't run because we can't pass. We can't pass because we can't run. But yet we'll keep running the same six plays all game long and hope for different results.

Anyone care to add anything?