Coach Paterno had his weekly press conference yesterday. Once again, JoePa doesn't offer too many great soundbites, but we'll try to decipher what we can.
Jim Shaw is still nursing a sore ankle, but Joe expects him to play. It sounds like he sat out most of the Youngstown game as a precaution. His presence is going to be huge against Ohio State. We need a big strong guy on the outside of the defensive line to contain Smith in the pocket.
Joe was asked about the play of some of the freshmen on the defensive line and had this to say:
It seems the coaches have committed to these kids as the future of the Penn State defense. They're green now and pretty much getting man-handled, but the experience they are gaining will be valuable when they get to be juniors and seniors. I still contend that in three years we will have the best defensive line in college football. Is it too early to start working on nicknames for this group?
I thought this was the best question of the group. I'm glad someone asked it and I'm disappointed Joe sidestepped it.
I don't think we are trying to pattern him after anybody. We just want to try to give Derrick a chance to do some of the things he does best. I think he has done well. Obviously, things won't come as easy for him as they did last year when a lot of people didn't realize how good he was. We have got to spot him a little bit more because we are asking him to do so many things. Overall, he has done well.
For all the hype we were given in the off season about what a play maker DWill was going to be, I'm pretty disappointed so far. Some of it is his fault like the dropped passes against Notre Dame, but mostly I blame the coaches. I'll expand on that later today.
Now Paterno presser is complete without your "classic Paterno" soundbite:
Obviously, the ones you win. We played against Miami and won that one. Georgia was #1 when we played them and we won that one. When we played Alabama and they beat us (1979 Sugar Bowl), we were #1. I think that is the way it was. To be frank with you, I don't really remember. We lost that one and that stands out because of the goal line stand. I thought we probably should have won that baby. You guys know more about that stuff than I do. I haven't got time to keep going back, "Hey, 1912, your first game Paterno, what did you do?" (laughter) I don't mean to sound smart aleck, but I don't. I haven't got time.
Now, I've mentioned before that I speak fluent Paternese. I haven't had any formal training. It just comes with reading every Paterno press conference for the past five years and watching the results of the following game. Read the following soundbites and I'll tell you what they mean at the end.
What do you do? You go in there and pray. You got a good prayer to St. Jude for hopeless causes or something?
I don't think we are going to outplay them. I haven't seen anybody outplay them. They have a great punter. Their punter is one of the best punters in the country. The kid who kicks field goals, kicks them right in the end zone. I think we have to fight like dogs just to not let the kicking game beat us. We are not going to win that battle. They are too good to think you are going to win that battle. We have to fight for our lives and try not to lose the game because we have put ourselves out of reach because of the kicking game.
Now, these soundbites go beyond the usual "Temple is a well coached football team that is going to give us some problems" rhetoric. Paterno really feels like they are going to have to play a perfect game to win. I can tell he isn't very confident they are going to win. So I'm going into this weekend hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I'll be happy if they can play mistake free and keep it close.