The Blue-White game marked the end of spring practice for the Nittany Lions and before the game Joe Paterno met with media to talk about the practices, his team and the quarter-back battle. These are some of the highlights from the press conference:
Q. Did you get all you hoped to get done this spring?
COACH PATERNO: Well, it’s been a tough spring. Not only have the injuries been a big problem, but the weather. We never got outside once. It was fluky. One, two days looked like it was going to break and it would be nice, and decide to take one of the 15 days you had and it turns out you get up in the morning, it’s raining like the dickens. So we didn’t get that. But the kids…it’s a good squad. They worked hard when they were at it. So I don’t have any complaints that way. It’s just that we didn’t have the best of conditions. And the injuries obviously bother us.
Q. Joe, how did you come out of the spring with your offensive line? You had said that before practice started there were some concerns about that. How has the offense come along?
COACH PATERNO: I think we’ve made progress. We’ve got a ways to go. But it’s always you are never sure whether the defense is good and the offense line’s bad or the offensive line is just bad, and defense is bad, too. I think we made a lot of progress. We’re not home free. There’s a lot of little things that we have not gotten into. There’s a lot of blitzes and a lot of stunts and different looks, defensive looks, that we’ve not gotten involved in. We’ve been more concerned about individual techniques, trying to get and then when we had time, trying to get some guys to work with each other so that they get a feel for each other. But I think we’re…we have a chance to be okay. We’re not there yet.
Q. Can you evaluate the progress of your quarterbacks, and has someone stood out to take over?
COACH PATERNO: I’ve really been pleased with the quarterbacks, and not only the two kids that everybody knows (Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin), who’ve played in most of the football played probably all of the offensive football for this team last year, both those kids had really good springs, I thought. And then we have some other kids that have been out there, kids like (Shane) McGregor and (Paul) Jones. And so I think the quarterback situation is a good one.
Q. How about the defensive line? You’ve suffered some injuries at the defensive end spot. So how has that group looked?
COACH PATERNO: Good.
Q. Following up on quarterbacks. Are you going to hold off on naming a starter until the fall; is that the plan, at quarterback?
COACH PATERNO: At quarterback, there’s no need to have to (name a starter now). There’s no sense doing it. I think both those kids I would say it’s 99 percent sure it’s going to be one of the two kids. But I think we ought to let them…as I said, we didn’t get outside much.
We didn’t do a lot of different things, because we wanted to get some of the younger offensive linemen, we didn’t want to get them confused. We just wanted to work on their technique and things like that. But I’m very comfortable with the quarterback situation.
Now, which one starts…we’ll sit down as a staff next week. The staff can’t go out recruiting until the week after, by NCAA rules. And so next week, we’ll spend some time looking at some tapes together. And we’ll discuss the different positions and see where we can keep status quo or we need to improve.
Q. Did you get a sense for when you’ll know if Bolden is going to be staying and what your thought is on if Rob’s going to be sticking around?
COACH PATERNO: I really haven’t given that any thought. I would have obviously hoped that that’s behind him.
I think that he’s really, he’s been great out there on the practice field. He appears to be having a good time. He’s a lot, as far as I can see, he’s a lot different than he was last year when he was a little bit I don’t know exactly what term I would use. But he wasn’t as comfortable as he was this spring.
And so I haven’t really given that much thought. But if we have a problem, it will probably come…we’ll discuss it next week. But I don’t think there is a problem. Shouldn’t be. He’s right in there.
Q. Some of your players this week talked about how hard the practices have been this spring, a lot harder than they’ve been in previous years, and talked about the toughness of the team. Was that a concern of yours, the overall toughness of your team?
COACH PATERNO: Well, when you look at that schedule, we better be tough. I don’t know. Sometimes the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t know that we were that tough. When we went out there, they worked hard. Anything we asked them to do, most of it they did.
So I think that it’s been a good spring practice in the sense that we’ve tried to demand some things of them, and as far as I can tell, I think in most cases we got exactly what we wanted to get done as far as toughness or as far as techniques, kids and their techniques, when we made a couple of switches where we had to replace kids who got injured with some people that…I really was surprised with some of the walk on kids who stepped in there and have done a good job helping out.
So, I’m glad to hear they think it was that tough. I think pre-season practice will be tougher than that.
Q. At defensive end, obviously (Jack) Crawford and (Eric) Latimore didn’t practice and (Pete) Massaro is out. Could you talk about the guys you’ve moved over, the defensive end, the younger guys, and how they look?
COACH PATERNO: Crawford and Latimore both should be okay in the fall. We moved (DaQuan) Jones from defensive tackle to end, so we could have a little bit more experience on that defensive line, because there, again, we wanted to make sure that the offensive line were working against good people.
And then as we went along, some kids started to get better. But, the guys that you guys know, (Devon) Still and (Jordan) Hill, and all those guys, they’re fine. It’s defensive end where we’ve got people hurt.
The one kid, (Evan) Hailes, has developed I’m not even sure what it is, but the doctor was going to put a sheet together that you guys would have a little better understanding of what kind of illness or whatever it may be that’s kept him out.
But I don’t have the…Hailes may not play in the fall. I don’t know about that. (Garry) Gilliam’s probably out (knee injury). And like I really thought Gilliam was going to be a really good one. And I think eventually he will.
I think Massaro is out. But, again, we’re getting Crawford and Latimore back. We can move Jones back inside.
I think the two kids that are fought to play a lot this spring, (Sean) Stanley and the other kid (Jones), both had good experiences, both practiced every play. So we lost here; we gain there. But, I think overall the defensive end of it, we’re okay.
Q. If Bolden stays and McGloin is here, where does that leave Paul Jones? Does he have any chance to see playing time this year? Has he progressed the way you thought?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I don’t know yet about Paul. Paul’s got…at times he’s looked good. He’s got a lot of ability, big kid….But, the other two kids have been through it. They know they’re just they’re a little bit more aware of certain things. And I think Paul’s got to work his way in.
Q. How has Chaz (Powell) done this spring at quarterback? Notice any difference with him, how he’s progressed or matured?
COACH PATERNO: I think he’s been all business. I think he’s had a great spring. He’s a very gifted athlete. I think Powell is one of the kids that’s really…Powell just stays, the way he’s been this spring, he’ll be outstanding. He’s got everything to be really good.
Q. Can you talk about the situation at running back, and have you settled on who is going to be the guy there or are you still working through that?
COACH PATERNO: There again, they’re all going to get to play. I couldn’t tell you which one is better for all the games. I won’t get into who does what well and who doesn’t.
But, we have some guys that are not particularly good blockers and have got to improve their blocking before I can really get excited about them. Particularly their pass blocking, with everybody doing all the stunts and the blitzes that you see these days.
But as far as just running with the football, two or three of those kids are pretty good. But right now that’s one of the things that I’ve got to when I talk to them on Monday, some of these guys have got to do a little homework and start studying exactly what they may have to do in the way of blocking.
Running a football comes to them naturally. But with all the blitzes, I’ve said it several times already, you’ve really got to have that back who can handle one or two of them for you.
Q. You didn’t mention (Kevin) Newsome. Is he still in the quarterback mix, or could he move to another position?
COACH PATERNO: Newsome would be in the same boat as Jones. My problem with Newsome is paying attention to little things. He misses breakfast. Sometimes he’s the last guy on the practice field. He’s just on time. He’s got a lot of ability. And he’s gotten away with it in high school, I’m sure with the fact that he has natural ability.
He’s got to spend just a little bit more time on the finesse part of the game, anticipate a read, anticipate the break of a receiver, those kinds of things. When we can get him where he’s thinking about that, I think he’ll be pretty good.
Q. Dakota Royer, is he healthy? Is he making progress? What chance does he have to play?
COACH PATERNO: Well, he didn’t do a thing last year because he was injured. And he’s just getting a feel of things. Hasn’t shown a lot of real aggressiveness yet. That’s because he’s not quite sure, at least I think it’s because he’s not quite sure himself in there, and doesn’t want to make a mistake.
But, he’s really a good athlete. Now, whether he becomes a good linebacker or not, he’s got a ways to go yet.
Q. Could you update us on Curtis Drake? Does he have any chance to play in the fall?
COACH PATERNO: Physically is his problem right now. I doubt it. He’s still on crutches. And there again, the docs could give you a better evaluation than I can. I just assume that from what I’ve heard that it would be a long shot for Drake to be able to play.