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Paterno Press Conference - Akron

Joe Paterno had his weekly press conference today previewing the Akron game. It's your typical preseason press conference. Most questions are met with an "I don't know" or "You coach the kids and help for the best" while also talking up the Zips as if they could beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not a lot of information, but it's always worth the read.

A lot of people are expecting us to have a year similar to 2003 when we lost a lot of talent to graduation. Just for fun I decided to pull Paterno's 2003 and 2004 preseason press conferences to see if I could detect a difference in his tone from this year. This is how Paterno described the defensive line in 2003.

We are going to make a lot of mistakes. We have potential. We have kids who can be really good, but they are not really good right now.

This is how Paterno describes the defensive line today.

Jay Alford is a very, very fine football player. Jimmy Shaw will be a good end and so will Josh Gaines. They are both good football players. They are not duds. They are good football players. Now that Eddie Johnson is back in the picture...if he just keeps his weight under control and does some things, those four guys are pretty good up front. They are not a bunch of lemons. They are good football players. They all can run and there is some size. Eddie Johnson is 295 lbs. Jay Alford is 295 lbs. I don't feel (that we are asking them to do too much).

We all know Joe does not talk up individual players unless he strongly believes they are good. This is high praise coming from Paterno. Listen to how Joe described the wideouts prior to the 2004 season.

The wideout situation still bothers me a little bit because some days they come out and they catch the ball real well and then the next day the guys you think were good the day before come out and get a little sloppy.

After last season, nobody is asking about the wideouts this year. There is one glaring difference between this year and 2003/2004.

How did Joe feel about Austin Scott and Tony Hunt in 2003?

Some days (Hunt and Scott) look good and some days you wonder whether they know what offense they are running.

On Austin Scott today:

I think he has a chance to play a lot and if he does, he will be a big help.

On Tony Hunt:

I think Tony Hunt is a really good running back and I am glad we have him.

This year Joe is not very confident in the offensive line, and that bothers me.

(The offensive line) is probably my biggest concern because a lot of those kids have never been in a football game...I think we are going to have troubles. I think they are all going to have troubles on the offensive line.

But listen to how Joe described the team overall coming out of preseason practice in 2003:

Yesterday was a very disappointing practice for me. I walked off of the field very down. We had given them Saturday and Sunday off. We had a tough, tough practice on Friday. I gave them Saturday and Sunday off and didn't even take them to a walk-through period on either one of those days. We worked an hour and fifteen minutes with just tops and I thought we would have a lot more enthusiasm. I thought that we would be better. We really did not have a very good practice. We took a big step backwards yesterday...Up until yesterday, I had felt that we had made good progress. I am anxious to see how we practice today because we were terrible yesterday.

Here's how Joe felt coming out of 2004 preseason:

I'm a little disappointed in a couple of kids but I think overall we did about as well as we can expect. The weather has been good. We've had fairly hot weather, but not that oppressive humidity or hot weather where you can't get a lot work done because kids just run out of steam. I think the weather was good

Ummm...ok. The weather was good. Not a good sign when the only thing your head coach can point to that went well in the preseason is the weather.

Here is how Joe described his opinion of how things are going today:

Am I satisfied? Yes, I think we got about as much done as we could do.

I think we are going to be a good football team. How well we play the first game is difficult to say. We have three more days of practice this week. Up to now, so far so good.

So I think you can get a taste for the fact that Joe feels better about this team than he did with the teams in 2003 and 2004. This is a good omen for Penn State fans.