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PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 9, 2007
Q. After the April 1 incident downtown, you called it an embarrassment and took several steps to address it, are you disappointed that some players didn't heed your message?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Well, which players are you talking about?
Q. Well, there were several incidents, sufficient as the violation by Austin Scott --
COACH JOE PATERNO: Austin Scott was a different situation. I was disappointed but, yeah, we've -- what else are you talking about?
Q. The four under-age drinking citations in the last month to six weeks?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Well, I'd like to know anyone in this room when they were in college weren't sitting around at parties and under-age drinking wasn't going on.
I'm not condoning it or anything like that. But you know, you always have got to be a little bit careful in evaluating what kids do in relationship to what their obligation is to their football team and themselves.
I'm not sure who the kids you're talking about are, but there are a couple of kids out there, and I'm in the process of trying to find out who it was, but all of them are kids who aren't going to play this year.
So I think there's a little bit different obligation on their part to what they have to do as far as I use the word "obligation" to what they have to contribute to the football team. No, I think we're okay.
Q. What is Austin Scott's status right now, and were there a couple of your players involved in a fight over the weekend?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Austin Scott right now is still not -- will not participate this week. I'm not sure exactly where you're coming from on the second part, except I've had -- I've been alerted that there might have been a couple football players involved in a fight; to what extent, to what degree, what happened, I'm not quite sure yet. And until I find out what's going on, I think I'd be better off just not getting into that.
Q. You had the fight earlier this year, you've got four kids --
COACH JOE PATERNO: What about Wisconsin?
You know, we're fine. Let me handle the football team, and as soon as I know enough to make some decisions, I'll make them and that will be it.
But you guys want to nitpick -- forget about where I think you're coming from, but I just don't think it's appropriate right now. I told you what I said. We may have some kids that may have stepped out of line; to what degree, I don't know. Seriously or not seriously; to what effect how what they have done is going to affect how I'm going to react, I don't know, period.
Now we've got a football game to play supposedly. And I was hoping somebody would say: "Are you pleased with the way your football team played last week," because I was. Our kids played hard. When I was here last week: How is your team going to be, are they going to hang on; morale; you guys have all given me that stuff, are they going to snap back and all.
We went ahead and played a good football game, all right. Went out and played a good football game. Maybe made a couple of mistakes later in the game but went out and played a good football team. You want to talk about that? Let's talk about that. You want to talk about Wisconsin? Hey, I thought this was a press conference to discuss our football.
Q. I don't know where to go after that because --
COACH JOE PATERNO: Well, ask me about Wisconsin. Ask me about our last game.
Q. I was going to ask you -- it's got to the point now because of the progression of that things have happened, the speculation gets louder and crazier; there was speculation that you might have been involved, can you clarify on that?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Come on, let's go.
Q. How committed to you having your tailback moving forward --
COACH JOE PATERNO: Same as we were last week. We had Kinlaw and the youngster, the freshman kid who I thought played well. And then we had Stephfon Green we're trying to work in there. And I think we'll be okay at that tailback spot.
Q. Wisconsin had a 14-game winning streak before the loss at Illinois --
COACH JOE PATERNO: You know, I can never quite --
Q. Wisconsin had a 14-game winning streak before the loss at Illinois. How would you explain the consistency that they have shown in recent years?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Oh, I think they have done a great job. I tell you what, they have had, obviously, good coaching. I think Brian, the young coach, he's probably 35 yet, I don't know, but Barry Alvarez, when he dropped out of it, to give up the football coaching and designate him to be the head coach; he was young, but I think they have done a great job coaching and I think they have been fortunate.
They have had a couple of kids at quarterback that have really done a good job. The kid they had last year who played a lot, this year is doing a really good job for them, No. 9 -- no, not No. 9, No. 12, he's done a really good job and he's an older kid. I think he's a senior. They know how to win and they play hard and they don't make a lot of crucial mistakes. They expect to win the way they play, which good football teams do.
So I think they have been, you know, probably the most consistent football team over the last two years in playing up to their ability, and they have some ability, I don't know they don't have it; they have a lot of ability. That No. 9 is as good a football player in the clutch as you're going to see anywhere, and they go to him.
So they have done really a good job. I've looked at a lot of Wisconsin tapes over the last year and a half, only to try to see if I can learn something from them. And their consistency and their persistence, their concentration, their lack of making crucial mistakes and some spots have all led to the fact that they were able to win as many games as they have won.
Q. Midpoint in the season, you're 4-2, report cards are traditionally on two sides, one looking at the grades for your classes, another for something such as behavior. How would you grade the team on obvious things like how well they have played, and how would you grade the team on behavior and leadership?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Is it my leadership?
Q. Well, I guess you and the players.
COACH JOE PATERNO: Obviously when you talk about leadership, I would hope that we would go from me down, or up I guess.
I think we have done well. We lost two tough games on a couple plays, bang-bang plays. A couple of them, one at Michigan, pass interference, which was not pass interference; everybody who looks at the tapes can see that. A couple plays here, a couple plays there, and we would be really, you know, on a pretty good roll.
But we've stayed in there. We've hung in there and we're getting a little better every week. So I feel pretty good about this squad, I really do. And as far as the speculation about what's happened off the field, I think that's a combination of a lot of things, if speculation is anywhere close to being accurate.
So, I feel good. I feel good about my team, I really do. I think we've got a good football team, and we've got six games to play, and I'm upbeat that we can be competitive in every one of them. That doesn't mean we're going to win every one, because we're playing good teams. They are all good. Right now, from now on in, they are tough.
Q. Wisconsin seems a little different this season than the last, even though they have a lot of running starters, they are giving up a lot more points; can you talk about maybe the different --
COACH JOE PATERNO: 49 or 51, I'm not sure.
Q. This team doesn't bare that much resemblance to the one last year, but they are still good.
COACH JOE PATERNO: Oh, no question they are still good. They have only lost one game, and that was to a good Illinois team. I told my staff, Illinois had beat them. I told them before the thing started, I told them Illinois is a really good football team, and, in fact, Wisconsin played really well. I think Wisconsin is solid, and really is solid; they know what they are doing all the time. They hustle.
You're right about they threw the ball long, but I think they were behind; they were behind 17-0 at one time so they had to throw the football. Illinois is not easy to run against consistently. They can give you a couple blitzes that will really make it tough.
So I thought that they were two good football teams playing each other, and I wasn't surprised that it came out the way it came out. But that's not to take away from Wisconsin, because I think Wisconsin is good. I think they are good, and they will be better this week because of the fact that they will walk away from that with the kind of leadership they have with their quarterback and the kind of hustle they have on defense and the kind of coaching. They will come to State College with a chip on their shoulder, and they should. And hopefully we're going to be ready to play as well as we can and see what happens.
Q. Can you give us an update on injuries, and do you think at the midway point you've been fortunate in that area?
COACH JOE PATERNO: No, I think we've had a lot of injuries, really more than I would like to have. I would be very critical of the fact that we are playing 12 games in 12 weeks; the only conference that does it, Big 10, 12, everybody else has got a week off or something here. I think that makes it awfully difficult on your football team. In fact, we didn't practice yesterday because I'm afraid we're getting tired, and I think we've got to worry about that coming down the stretch.
But, you know, we won't have Alaboo (ph) is hurt, Bowman has been hurt. We lost Koroma for a while. We've lost a couple offensive linemen. We had lost short for a while; I can go down the list.
But if you're talking about very serious injuries, we lost one good, really good prospect, freshman kid who is out for the year. But maybe we've been fortunate. I'll look at it that way. Every injury to me is -- you know, we have a couple of kids playing hurt. We have a couple of kids that are really gutting it out and playing hurt; proud of them, and I'm not going to get into who they are because I don't think it's necessary.
Yeah, maybe we've been fortunate, I don't know. But I do know we're tired because we've played some tough football games and we don't have that week off.
And, you know, you get the routine that we have here, people always look at graduation rings, but they don't realize the price you pay to get kids to graduate. They have a morning study hall, go to breakfast, and the whole bit and trying to get the young team, because this one is stronger and become better physically. They have got to lift; they have got to be at breakfast; they have got to lift; we check their class schedules and if somebody cuts a class, we run them, with the goal of getting them to graduate.
Nobody ever seems to understand that it's not easy for a kid to do what we ask them to do. And sometimes maybe when a kid steps out of bounds a little bit off the field, some of guys don't quite -- I say, guys, I don't want to talk about it. But people may not quite understand that they are not perfect and I'm very demanding on them.
But overall I think we're fine. I'm worried about us -- about the fact that we're tired.
Q. You guys have won 18 of 19 games against Wisconsin, dating back to 2004, how important is it from a confidence standpoint to --
COACH JOE PATERNO: Have we won 18 of the last 19? I don't know. I'm just worried that we win our next one. I mean, you're only as good as your last game.
Wisconsin, I remember Wisconsin beat us, didn't they break a streak or something? We used to play the game at 12 o'clock or something like that, we always had them over to the house at dinner and Jim Delany came over to the house -- is Jim still the Commissioner of the Big 10? He came over to the house and we had lost by 16 or 17 and he said, "You guys even have fun when you guys lose."
And I said, "What are you going to do, die?"
But this is a big game for us, a big game for this young team. I keep saying young; they have got to learn how to win and they have got to learn how to handle a win. And they have got to understand how tough Wisconsin is going to be, how good Wisconsin is going to be, and we have to have a great week of practice and we have to play a heck of a game on Saturday. And that maybe, maybe, will be 18 or 19 out of 20.
Q. Are you surprised at how well Mike has seemed to step in at guard? Do you find it easy to root for a guy like that, for as much patience as he's shown?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Well, Mike, you're absolutely right, Mike has hung in there. Mike is not a great physical guy. He's really got to hustle and he's got to be smart and he's got to have good technique and he's got to be determined that if he doesn't get it from me on the next play, he'll get them. He's not a big guy inside. He's blocking guys that are 20 pounds, 25 pounds bigger than he is, and he's a good football player.
He's played some guys this year that are as good as we've played; No. 47 from Iowa is as good a down guy as we've played in a long time. We had our hands full with him, and we will with the guy who plays right defensive guard for them this year, Wisconsin he's a good football player. So, yeah, I think Mike's done a good job.
Q. First if you can clarify something, the clarification, you talked about Stephfon Green, you're trying to move him in there. What's his situation for going to his red shirt? And offensive line seems to be coming and Ohrnberger seems to be emerging as an outstanding offensive lineman. Do you agree and talk about how that's happened.
COACH JOE PATERNO: (Laughing)
Q. I'm throwing a lot at you.
COACH JOE PATERNO: We need another tailback, and Green is the best guy available. Green has a lot of talent. He's a true freshman but if we need him, we're going to use him. He knows that. He's actually anxious to play.
Though, to me, that's a no-brainer. You're right about Ohrnberger. My only problem with Ohrnberger. He's been very undisciplined in the sense that he's made a lot of mistakes in the clutch, jumped off-sides, has held, he's done that once this year. But he's a good, tough kid. Why has he gotten better? Because he's worked hard, he's stayed healthy, and Dick Anderson has done a great job with him.
The offensive line is getting better. And I think you've got to give Lucian credit, and I think you've got to give the other kid that nobody ever mentioned is Landolt. Landolt had not played any football until this year, after one tackle.
So I think Dick and Bill Kenny have done a really good job with those kids, and fortunately they have stayed healthy. One key injury we had after we got started with Shaw, and he's still not 100%.
And prior to that, we lost Elijah Robinson and Ellis (ph), and decided this wasn't the situation we wanted. So you know, we've had a couple problems there. But once we got healthy and stay healthy, I think that they have made progress.
You guys have heard me say a thousand times, one thing with an offensive line is you've got to depend on your buddy. You have to know what your buddy can do and what you can do and you've got to come down the line of scrimmage and have feel for each other, because there are so many things going on with the defense today, so many different blitzes and stunts and things -- the only way you get good at them is if you experience them, and we're starting to experience them.
So I think we are getting better. But we're a long way off from being where we've got to be.
Q. Not trying to belabor anything, but as your role evolved, are you as close to the kids as you have always been?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Oh, sure, I don't know, you have to ask them. I know their names.
Q. Is it frustrating that some of them are not getting the message?
COACH JOE PATERNO: The young ones -- the ones you're talking about -- I don't know who you're talking about, really. Obviously when you have some kids who are true freshman, who are not going to play, whatever message you have is sometimes a little different to them. Matter of fact, our team, they come out to practice, they work hard, they do the things I ask them to do.
Q. Some of the kids on defense after the game Saturday said they really needed to make a statement last week. Were you pleased with the way the defense played and do you feel like they made enough of a statement?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Yeah, I think we played well defensively. I thought we did a good job and I think that, you know, it's a young team, there's only one senior, and Connor is really the only guy that's a senior. And the rest of them are all kids that have played some, but not a lot. And they are getting better all the time.
I think the offense kept the ball a little bit better. I think Iowa had 50-something plays. The offense had the ball for 80 plays, maybe, 81, 82 plays, I'm not sure what, so that helped the defense because it kept them off the field and created better field position.
So I think we've made better progress, but again, I keep coming back to, we've got a ways to go. We jumped from where Illinois hurt us at the end of the game to where we played better against Iowa because they are learning a little bit. But in all fairness, they didn't have to be on the field quite as long and the offense did a lot better job.
Q. Not to beat a dead horse, but given the whole string of things, are you concerned with the public's perception?
COACH JOE PATERNO: I don't care about that. It's not the public's perception. It's what you create in this room, your perception and what you want to create. It's not a question of the public. I don't get any letters. All I do is get questions from you guys speculating. So it's not a question of public.
Q. In board rooms off-campus, the rumors, all that sort of stuff --
COACH JOE PATERNO: What do you want to do? I don't read that stuff, so I don't know. I wouldn't know what a board room is and somebody wants to get on there and shoot his mouth off -- I used to say all the time, if someone called me long distance and paid half a buck for a call, that's one thing. I don't do that anymore. They shoot their mouth off to 100,000 people if they want, but I can't worry about that, no. That doesn't bother me one thing.
Q. Let me phrase that question a different way. Are you concerned about the image of the program?
COACH JOE PATERNO: No. I don't think there's anything wrong with the program. We've got a bunch of great kids. And 80, 85, 90 percent of them will graduate and 80, 85, 90 percent of them are great people. I have no problem with that. Again, guy back to the fact that you guys are trying to create some problem that I don't believe we have, period.
I really -- it's a waste of my time and your time.
Q. Lucian and Ohrnberger, did you like what you saw in that flip-flop? Are you going to make that permanent?
COACH JOE PATERNO: It all depends. It all depends. One plays left, one plays right; they are so similar. I think you might see Lucian at right and Ohrnberger back at left. And I'm more concerned about the backup kids than we are with those two, because both those kids were smart kids and they can play either side. But you've always got to worry about who is behind them, and that's the biggest problem we have.
Q. Can you say specifically what team rule Austin Scott may have broken and if and when he'll be returning?
COACH JOE PATERNO: I've made a statement 58 times. What's the next question?
Q. You do a radio show on Thursdays.
COACH JOE PATERNO: Yeah, I do.
Q. Lately a lot of fans have been asking some pretty tough questions. Curious what you think when fans call in and they are asking you difficult things?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Such as what?
Q. About the offense or Morelli's struggles or the discipline?
COACH JOE PATERNO: I treat them just like I treat you guys. Who you know what you're talking about, I answer them. When you don't know what you're talking about, I forget about it.
Q. Do you enjoy doing that? Not a lot of coaches have a direct forum that fans can ask them stuff. Just curious why you continue to do that.
COACH JOE PATERNO: I get paid for it. You want an honest answer? I get paid.
Q. Do you enjoy it?
COACH JOE PATERNO: I enjoy it up to a point. I don't enjoy this, but I've got to do it. It goes with the territory.
Q. How is Royster doing health-wise, and what have you seen in him that's convinced you he's ready to play?
COACH JOE PATERNO: We had talked about playing him before. Royster has practiced really well and he's a good prospect. He has a bruised thigh above the knee, but he'll go. He'll track today and so the doc thinks he's okay. But Royster is a good football player. He's a solid kid and he's tough. He doesn't look very big, but he's 215 pounds, 212 pounds, and he's quick. He was best lacrosse (ph) player in the State of Virginia, so you know he's a pretty good athlete.
Q. Western Pennsylvania area has always been big for you recruiting-wise; can you talk about the overall talent in western Pennsylvania area?
COACH JOE PATERNO: I think we've been fortunate. We've had great players from western Pennsylvania. We've had great players from central Pennsylvania and we've had great players from the Allentown, Bethlehem. We've had them from all over. Some years from the west, some from others.
I know I'm not being very specific in some of my answers, but I think, yeah, we've had good luck out there, very good luck, and I think there are some really good football players out there this year that we're going to try to get. We've been fortunate and we've gotten some fine play from Ohio. You look through the years, some of the better players we have been Ohio kids and Jersey, upstate New York, Long Island. You know, we talked about Ohrnberger. Ohrnberger is a Long Island kid. Lucian is from down in Maryland. The kid playing left tackle for us is from Ohio. The guy playing right tackle for us is from south jersey. I could keep going quickly -- and Shipley, he's a western Pennsylvania kid. So it's not all -- Morelli is from western Pennsylvania. Clark is from western Pennsylvania.
You know, I can't generalize that way. You go out and you look at kids and you try to find some that fit in to our program, some that can help us become better and who will buy into the fact that they have got to go to class and they are here to graduate. And we are fortunate, we're able to get them from a lot of different places.
Q. You talked about the Big 10 and you expressed your concern about a lack of an open date, could you see a non-conference game being the end of the season to create an open date for you?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Yeah, I've yelled and griped and everything I could do in order to try to get them to say, hey, give us an open date. But they don't want to go early because of NCAA rules and they don't want to go late as some of the other conferences have done because they traditionally, I think Ohio State and Michigan have enough pressure to put on the conference that they don't want another game after that.
I think that's up to the presidents and athletic directors. I made a statement; we've gone from 11 games in 12 weeks to 12 games in 12 weeks, and it's tough. People talk about kids graduating and all that kind of stuff, but I think a kid really needs someplace down the line where he can back off and get caught up with a term paper and we can give him a couple of days off, that kind of thing. I've tried real hard to get that point across but I'm just a voice in the wilderness.
Q. You had mentioned how well Royster did during practice, will we see as much of him as against Iowa --
COACH JOE PATERNO: I would like to be able to tell you we're going to do this but I can't. Royster is going to play. If we have the ball 80 times and we run it -- what did we run it, 50-something times Saturday, then Royster has got to play.
Can I control that? No. But people have to be ready to play and he's got to be ready to play. I can't tell you how many plays he's going to play. I can't even tell you he's going to play. We go into the game hopefully ready for anything that can happen to us. He could get a bump and a bruise -- he may have to come out and get treatment or something like that, and Royster has to go in. Somebody asked me about Stephfon Green, who knows, Green may have to play more than I -- I hope he didn't have to play that much. So as we get a little bit further along in his experience and development. So no, I can't get into that.
Q. Would you ever consider a succession plan here at some point, like they have done with the head coach at Wisconsin?
COACH JOE PATERNO: You said, would you ever, which makes it a very difficult question for me to answer, because I haven't thought about it, all right. I mean, if it were -- yeah, I don't know. I've never thought about it. If the time comes when I start thinking, hey, I'm going to get out of it n this year or next year, so forth, then I think obviously I've got to think of the scenario, how does it go, how do we want to do it, what's best for Penn State, what's best for the coaching staff, what's best for the squad and try to work out a scenario that would be the best for everybody, the best for as many people as we can, because you'll never do the best for everybody. Yeah, that's a possibility, but I haven't really thought about it.
Q. Wisconsin traditionally has had very big, very tall offensive line, is that maybe because the system they run, you have always had a little bit smaller offensive front; is it difficult to get the kids that are 6-6 and-6-7, a whole bunch of them playing together?
COACH JOE PATERNO: Again, you're making a statement that isn't accurate. It's hard for me to answer questions when they are not accurate. Left back is 6-5, our right tackle is 6-4. Now, okay, you mean, we've got to get a guy that much bigger in order to be across the board.
Yeah, we've had offensive people, Brown was 6-5. You try to get football players. You try to go out and recruit kids that are good. We recruited Shipley as a defensive nose guard, but he was a better offensive line prospect than some of the other guys. So he ends up playing center, and hey, that's his best spot.
Ohrnberger is a 6-2 kid, 6-3 kid. I don't get where you all are trying to come from. You're trying to make some kind of profound observation and that's just not the way it is. We're going to recruit guys that can play. We've got one year -- what's the name of the kid, McKenzie that's playing with the Giants, he's 6-5 from jersey -- all right, that's fine.
No, it's not a question of style of play. It's a question of the fact that we try to get guys that can play and who are tough and who are coachable. And as I keep going back to, who, you know, want to be part of a situation where they are going to have to go to class and they are going to have to try to be good people.
Q. How important will it be this Saturday to get the defense off the field against Wisconsin's power running game, and how can you prepare for a back the size of Wisconsin?
COACH JOE PATERNO: We've played against some pretty good backs through the years. You know, the kid from Illinois is a pretty darned good back, too. I think he got about 80 yards against us. That kid is a difficult guy. That kid is back from my home, he's from Brooklyn, played at Polly Prep, one of our archrivals at Brooklyn Prep. It was a non-Catholic private school and I went to the Catholic Jesuit school, and they never beat us, because we had a great quarterback.
He's a heck of a back. You've got to go in there and get after him. But as far as keeping your defense off the field because you don't want him on the field, I mean, Illinois did a pretty good job on him, but the quarterback did a great job in there and their wide-outs.
This is not a one-dimensional football team, Wisconsin. Somebody said earlier, threw the ball 50 times against Illinois so, it's not that. You don't win the game that way. You go in the game with the idea that they have a heck of a tailback, and they have a heck of a backup tailback much the second kid is a heck of a tailback. They have an offensive line that comes off the football, all right and if you are the no ready to come across the football, yeah, he'll run all over you.
They have got a great football player at No. 9 who has made some unbelievable catches. They have got a great tight end, who they go to in the clutch when they need to. And the guy in the center is smart and stuff and clever and a competitor. So now what do you do? You tell me, you start the tailback, and everybody else has a field day, so you stop everybody else and tailback has a field day. It's a good football team, well balanced, well coached, tough, proud; they are proud.
Wisconsin has done probably as good a job in all sports, you look at their basketball and you look at some of their women's sports and you look at football; probably as good as anybody, as anybody, and they have played proud. And if we can beat them, we're going to have to play one heck of a football team, in every area, simple as that, okay. We're in the big time, okay.
All right, I've got to get going, guys.
End of FastScripts