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Nitt Picks Is A Day Late

Maybe Joe Paterno reads BSD. Because after I gave my advice about the bully pulpit last week he decided to open up an entire practice session to the media, an unprecedented move to build good relations with reporters and try to get the topic of discussion off of his contract situation. Then afterward he held a press conference in which he displayed a level of candor that has become increasingly rare in the 82 year old legend. Unfortunately, the media would not let up on Paterno in asking him about his future with the program. Paterno seemingly argued with them for the first ten minutes as he casually sat behind the table and munched on a piece of pizza. Then like only Paterno can do he broke up the room with a few jokes and moved the conversation to football. FOS was gracious enough to offer the audio if you would like to listen to it. It's highly entertaining. Especially the part where Joe gets tired of getting the third degree from the media and steps back into having a conversation with himself.

Paterno addressed that when he gave a synopsis of discussions with Curley and Spanier, providing both sides of the conversation:

"'Joe, how you doing?'

"'I think I'm doing fine.'

"'How's the team going to be?'

"'Well, we've got to get a few things straightened out.'

"'What's happening with a couple of the kids that are in trouble? '

"'Well, you know, I think we'll get that straightened out.'

"'OK, you think we're going to have a pretty good team next year?'


'OK, we'll see you later.'"

There were a few lines Paterno dropped that predictably the media latched on to and unfortunately those became the headlines on Sunday morning. Check out these headlines.

Paterno: Contract Least of Concerns
Paterno "Doesn't Care" If He Gets New Contract Or Not
Paterno Content With Contract Status
Paterno Dismisses Contract Inquiries
Still No Deal For Penn State's Paterno

And so on and so forth. Some of the best quotes went like this.

"I don't even care if I get a contract."
"Three years ago, I'm Coach of the Year, and we're a couple seconds away from playing for the national championship," Paterno said with a grin. "Three straight bowl games, and three straight wins. I feel good about what we're doing.

"If I felt it was important and I felt that we had to say something, otherwise it would be detrimental to the future of Penn State football, that's the last thing I'd want. You don't think I'd want to put this many years into this thing and want to screw it up?"

I've long held the belief that this isn't all about Paterno just wanting the record. He's not clutching onto his desk afraid to give up power. He really believes he can still do this job and he's having fun doing it. The last thing he wants to do is leave the program to which he devoted nearly three-quarters of his life in shambles.

But then Paterno drew the line in the sand with the coup de grace.

"If I've got to have a contract to keep my job here, I'm in the wrong place," he said.

Take that, Graham Spanier. The old coot is going to go on coaching with or without a contract. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where George signs a one year contract with a company under the pretense he's handicapped. Then when they find out he isn't handicapped they want to fire him, but they realize they signed a contract with him and they would have to pay him an entire year salary if they did. So they try to make the job unbearable for him by barricading his door and turning up the heat in his office to make him quit. But he keeps coming in to work anyway. That's Joe. He's just going to keep showing up for work forever.

Let me show you how we used to party walk back in 1945.

Fortunately some reporters took this rare opportunity to witness a Penn State football practice and actually, like, reported on football stuff.

-The first team offense looked as expected with Clark under center, his offensive line consisted of Gerald Cadogan and Dennis Landolt at the tackles, the guards were Rich Ohrnberger and Stefen Wisniewski and A.Q. Shipley was the starting center. Penn State used a three-wide package with Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood as the targets. Mickey Shuler ran as the first team tight end with Evan Royster and Dan Lawlor in the backfield.

-First team defense consisted of Ollie Ogbu and Abe Koroma at the tackles, Josh Gaines and Maurice Evans on the ends, the outside linebackers were Bani Gbadyu and Tyrell Sales, while Josh Hull played in the middle. Sean Lee will be the starter but was dinged up and held out of some drills due to a tight hamstring and said as of now he expects to play on the outside. The secondary had Sargeant and A.J. Wallace at the corners and Rubin and Scirrotto at the safety spots.

Nothing earth shattering there. Lee was reportedly kept out for a tight hamstring. Nothing serious, but no use in beating him up now. He knows the defense. Save him for the season. Interesting to see Wiz running first team in front of Lucian. They split time last year so this isn't huge news. They may flip-flop tomorrow. Curious that Mark Rubin ran first team safety. Especially after reading this.

-Tony Davis appears to be running as the second team cornerback behind Lydell Sargeant. Davis was converted to safety before last season. Chaz Powell and Nick Sukay are the second team safeties currently behind Anthony Scirrotto and Mark Rubin.

Maybe Davis is moving back to cornerback. We're terribly thin there after Wallace and Sargeant, and I feel better playing Rubin at safety than I would playing Harriott or Fentress at corner. Then there's this.

-Wallace ran some drills with the first team offense out of the shotgun set, to which Paterno said he did some last season. Wallace was not credited with a carry on the offensive side of the ball in live game action last season.

I don't put a lot of stock in this. We have plenty of talent on offense such that we don't really need Wallace there. This is either some gamesmanship on Paterno's part or Wallace just threw himself into the lineup to have some fun. You won't see him carrying the ball this fall, and I'll bet anyone who wants to take that bet.

-Williams was popped by middle linebacker Chris Colasanti during a passing drill in which Williams went over the middle on a crossing route. Williams said he had "never been hit like that in his life," and laid on the ground for several minutes as team trainers and coaches tended to him.

He laid on the turf for a few minutes, until Joe walked over and shouted at the senior to "Get Up!.

The Daily Collegian has more on how Williams was utilized in practice.

Derrick Williams turned into part running back during Saturday afternoon's practice.

He took two handoffs out of the shotgun formation and was used on sweeps and in other creative positions.

Personally, this sounds like the old Derrick Williams to me. End arounds, sweeps, draw plays, bubble screens, and five yard out patterns. I'm dying for someone to tell me they're using Williams on slants and crossing patterns. Let him outrun people instead of forcing him to juke them out.

I love this little nugget about Stephfon Green from The Patriot.

And in one had-to-be-seen 40-yard bolt with a delay, there was redshirt freshman tailback Stephfon Green, the ballyhooed home-run threat, changing field position in an eye-blink.

I can't wait to see what this kid can do.  I haven't heard anyone say a bad word about him.

And how about the quarterback competition?

During Saturday's `Drill 6' a 6-on-6 passing exercise, Clark threw aggressively, missing some targets all together and had several rocket-style passes dropped.

Devlin showed more accuracy on his throws and can whip it deep.

When the team broke for an 11-on-11 scrimmage, Clark appeared to be more poised under pressure than Devlin.But there is an element about Devlin that cannot be overlooked.

Pennsylvania's all-time leading passer has a certain moxy he carries about himself.

Oh please, God. I'm dying for a quarterback with moxy. Tony Sacca had moxy. Kerry Collins had moxy. Michael Robinson had moxy. Dammit, after the last two years I want a quarterback with moxy. Is that too much to ask?

The Daily Collegian has more

Paterno watched quarterbacks Daryll Clark, Pat Devlin and Paul Cianciolo trade an equal number of snaps with the first-team offense during Saturday's football practice. And he insisted at his press conference afterward that he doesn't "necessarily" need to know this spring who the starting quarterback will be.

Good to see it looks like a fair competition with everyone getting equal reps rather than just handing the job to the senior guy like we did the last two years.

Clark showed off his elusiveness during team drills when he sidestepped a defender and flicked a screen pass that went for about 25 yards. Devlin shined when he threw deep during seven-on-seven; on one play, his tight spiral arced over a defender and fell perfectly into wideout Deon Butler's hands.

It's tough to not get overly hyped in reading these things. They rarely tell you about the pass that hit Jordan Norwood in the ankles.

Finally on a lighter note, the coaches have installed (ok, maybe they enlisted the local techie guys to do it) an overhead camera in Holuba Hall to film the indoor practice sessions. Penn State is one of just a handful of schools to use a camera like this.

After seeing this Ed DeChellis got jealous, so Curley told him he could exchange his Polaroid camera for a digital one.