These are some of the highlights from Joe Paterno’s press conference today.
Q. Can you give us an injury update on Michael Mauti and Stephfon Green and do you expect them to play Saturday?
COACH PATERNO: I think Mauti is out. He dislocated that (shoulder) and he’s had trouble with that, so I doubt if he’ll make it.
Green I think will be okay. They are not going to let Green do anything hard today. We have a red cross, which means you can’t do anything, and a green cross which means you have to be careful about contact, etc. So Green will be in a green cross. So, I think he’s got a shot at it.
Q. Is Matt McGloin still the starting quarterback and what is Silas Redd’s status for Saturday?
COACH PATERNO: Well, yeah, Mac, played really well until the second half, obviously. He had what you expect sometimes of young quarterbacks. He got a little careless with the football; made up his mind to whom he was going to throw the football, and threw it right into the hands of the Ohio State kids who did a good job. Their linebackers did a really good job amongst a couple of things. I expect him to start.
We didn’t practice yesterday for a lot of reasons, none of which….one of which I felt was that he was that the team was a little tired. We had played five really good quarters in a row, the last three against Northwestern and the first two against Ohio State. And then in the second half against Ohio State, we weren’t really good. We didn’t look like we had the bounce that we had. So I thought maybe we might be tired.
So we took off yesterday. So where McGloin goes from there is part of the process of maturing as a quarterback. And what was the second part?
Q. What is the status of Silas Redd? Is he going to play?
COACH PATERNO: We’ll find out.
Q. What improvements have you seen from Justin Brown this season at receiver?
COACH PATERNO: Justin Brown has always been somebody we have felt had tremendous potential, and you know, (Brett) Brackett, and others have been the wideouts we’ve gone with. I think Brown has to take more of a position is not exactly the word I want, but he has to be a more prominent player. We haven’t been able to get him much running room when he’s caught kicks. But I think he’s got a lot of ability and one of these days, when they start doubling up the other kids, Brown will have a big day.
Q. What are your thoughts on teams giving up home games to play at a neutral site like Indiana is doing?
COACH PATERNO: I don’t like to comment on what the other fellow does. I think that they have a reason for doing it. I don’t know exactly. I have not discussed it with them. I was told that they were going to move the game to Washington, D.C. and I said to myself, probably, “hey, I wonder why they are doing it, but I have not bothered to ask them. There’s nothing I can do about it. As I’ve said many times to you guys, I don’t really worry about anything I can’t do anything about. If they want to play in Indiana, it’s their prerogative. And if they want to play in Washington, that’s their prerogative and that’s what we are going to do.
Q. I wonder if you can give us your view on how you think your kickoff return game is doing. It seems like the production is slipping a little bit there, or maybe things aren’t working as smooth there. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think the other guy, once we made a couple of good runs on kickoff returns, then the other fellow started spending a little bit more time on it. I think your observation is correct; we have not had a lot of luck but the guys that we have played against have kicked the ball well. Saturday, against Ohio State, he kicked the ball high, and right down to the goal line and that was…would have been tough, no matter what, the return, they hustled down on the coverage.
I think we are working at it. I know we are working at it just as hard. We are practicing it as much, as much time as we had. We have the same people back there who have had some success as well as the people blocking up front. It’s just that the other guys are doing a better job.
Q. I was wondering if you could evaluate the performance of Pete Massaro and how he’s progressed through the season.
COACH PATERNO: Well, he’s a young kid. He’s been banged up a little bit. Every time it looks as if he’s going to be, you know, move forward, he’s had the practice and then he’s had to play hurt.
So, he hasn’t really had a chance to show what he can do yet. I think his future is ahead of him. Good kid.; bright kid. Excellent student, the whole bit, but so far, he just hasn’t been …you know, he’s just never been somebody that’s very prominent in the ballgames.
Q. Missed tackles seems to have been a theme this year, not just in your game but in all levels. Is tackling becoming a lost of art in football and why is that, if that’s the case?
COACH PATERNO: I really can’t answer that. I don’t really know. There are trends and there are things that happen, but I’m not sure why things have gone the way they have gone.
Q. Has it been a major problem for your team this year?
COACH PATERNO: Well, the guys…when you miss tackles, obviously it’s one of two things: Either you did a lousy job in your technique tackling, or the other guy is that good, he’s that quick, and he sets you up well enough that he can beat you.
I think it’s a combination. Most games we have tackled pretty well. And then we’ve played against some people that have done well running the football. The first half against Ohio State, I thought we did a really good job and the second half, that kid came on (Dan Herron) and ran, I don’t know how man…he ran for probably 120, 125 yards the second half. But he was coming up in there, had a little bit of blocking and had a little bit more running and made a little bit tough for us to make some tackles.
We have had a little bit of problem on the corners and on the edges with our linebacking, at times have missed tackles. But you’ve got to give the other guy credit. I think we have played against some people that have blocked solid, made it tough for us to penetrate, and the backs have had a little running room, and when they have had some running room, they have been good enough to make us miss at times.
Q. Can you update us on Mike Mauti’s status and if he’s not 100 percent, who will be the sort of primary linebackers on Saturday?
COACH PATERNO: You know, sometimes you guys…I think sometimes you guys mumble, but other times you ask the same question.
Mauti, I mentioned earlier, somebody asked me the difference between whether Mauti and Green were going to play and I said, “I doubt very much whether Mauti is going to play.”
Q. Sorry, I missed that.
COACH PATERNO: That’s the first part of your question. The second is who is going to replace him. Well, there’s (Nathan) Stupar, there’s (Khairi) Fortt; there’s a couple of other kids who can play on the outside where Mauti has been playing. (Chris) Colasanti, when he’s healthy, has played well inside. Mauti has been an open field lineup kind of kid, and has had a lot of opportunities, and hopefully we’ll have….the kid who replaces him will be able to do a decent job.
Q. When you go back over the game film for this week, when you look at what happened last Saturday against Wisconsin, do you see any value in looking at that at all?
COACH PATERNO: We look at everybody we play, try to learn from experience that we have against different teams and go on from there. You watch it and look at it; whether we come to the same conclusion as some of you experts do is debatable.
But yeah, we spend a lot of time looking at it; in fact, Sunday, at 1:30, by that time, when I first meet with the staff, the staff has already broken down what went on the day before, and I’ve looked at the tapes of the game we played the day before, before we move on to the next one.
Q. I know that players have been told that the Indiana team they may see is the one that almost beat Iowa a few weeks ago; is that a bit of a harder sell because they know Wisconsin put 83 up on these guys last week?
COACH PATERNO: Well, if you are playing in this league right now, goodness knows, I mean, Indiana had Iowa where they wanted them. The kid dropped that pass at the end of the game, and it wasn’t a tough catch. He was by himself and the ball is right there. I think it was the last play of the game, if not the last play, certainly one of the last three or four plays, and he drops the ball and they don’t win it.
But they played Iowa, play-for-play; tough. And I think that’s the way we are going to, we are going to look at it, because Indiana, Bill (Lynch) is a good coach, good guy. They are…we’ve have had our troubles with Indiana through the years, when Gerry DiNardo was there, we made a goal line stand to win the game (2004). In ’94, when Bill Mallory was coaching there, we only won by about 10 points, probably cost us the National Championship that year.
We are looking to play a good football team on Saturday, and one that will play well, play with enthusiasm, and we’d better be ready.
Q. You’ve lost four games by 20 or more points for the first time ever. Are you troubled by that, or would you think that your team competed better than maybe those final scores indicate?
COACH PATERNO: I thought we played a tough schedule. We played, going into the season, you figure we played three of the toughest teams, three of the better teams in the country on the road; and you realize that going into it that Michigan had an open date the week before we played them; Ohio State had an open date the week when we played them.
So, I think there’s a lot of things. And the fact that we only had…we had 59 kids on the squad that are freshmen or sophomores. And you are bound to have those days where things, you know, you can’t make something happen for yourself, and anything adverse that happens, is probably a little bit more dramatic than it would be when you get all of the kids, but we are a very young football team. We don’t have many the kids who are going to leave this football team who are players who won’t be here next year.
So I think it’s a combination of that, and the injuries. You had 13 kids who won’t play this Saturday who are hurt; five or six of them are first stringers, or would have been first stringers.
So there’s a combination of a lot of things. Sometimes it all comes together, and we are better than maybe people think we are.
Q. Can you talk about Indiana’s offense, led by Ben Chappell and the two wide outs and the challenge that they pose for you on Saturday?
COACH PATERNO: Well, is Chappell going to play? He got banged up. You know, I think that was part of their problem Saturday against Wisconsin. They went to second and third kids at quarterback, back and forth, and they let some continuity that they had had in a couple of games that they had played, in which they played really well. I think we are going to play, if Chappell is 100 percent, we are playing against a really big time quarterback, strong, good runner, and obviously can make some plays in tough situations.
But we have got to play. We have been playing good football players all year. I think that, as I said earlier, I think that the league is tough. And going in, I thought that we had some people that were as good of athletes across the board as I’ve seen in the league, and with the good, young coaches in the league, it’s tough.
Q. It looked like Evan Royster was banged up a little bit in the game against Ohio State; is he okay this week?
COACH PATERNO: I think he’s…he should be okay. You know, I deal with the medical meet with them sometimes, but talk with them every Sunday, and we talked about four or five kids; Royster one, Green is another one, Mauti; all of the kids that come out of that game banged up. And the only one that they felt was not, probably was not a go was Mauti.
Q. You talk about the youth on this team; how much of these last couple of games do you factor in with getting the players ready with an eye towards next season, personnel, schemes, that sort of thing?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I don’t look at it that way. I think that we have got to get, we have got to learn how to do certain things in tough situations. We have got to feel better each week and I think we are. I think we are a better football team than we were earlier in the year, particularly earlier when we went to Alabama. Learn how to make some plays in the clutch, which we didn’t do against Iowa; and catch the ball when we had to catch it for a couple of plays.
So, overall I think we are getting better, but I don’t look that, “hey, we are going to do this so we are better next year.” No, I don’t think that’s fair to the kids that are here that are going to leave, and as I said, there are eight kids that will play, who will be leaving us. And they have worked hard. They are entitled to have the best season they possibly can have, and we are not that far off.
But that’s a long answer to a question. Yeah, we are worrying about this year game by game. We’ll worry about next year as soon as this season’s over.
Q. Are you optimistic, going forward with some of the things that you’ve seen, even though there have been a couple of games that have gotten away from you, like the big picture?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I always say we can win no matter whom we play. But I think so. I think a lot of it depends on how we get…the quarterback settles down. It’s tough to be playing in this league with quarterbacks that have to carry the load the way the game is being played today. It’s not the way it used to be. The defenses are much more sophisticated, the coverages are more sophisticated, the stunts and the blitzes are all a little bit tougher to handle than they used to be.
So there’s some key people that have to really be exposed. Wideouts have to be able to read coverages and the timing between them and the quarterback. There’s a lot of things that go on now that takes a little longer to develop into a real steady, consistent football team. And I don’t see any reason why that won’t happen with this club. They are hard workers and good kids.
And I think that we can look forward to…I look at…you guys all want to talk about something. We have got Indiana and then we have got Michigan State and Michigan State can win the Big Ten Championship. We have got a couple of tough games to play here. Then we’ll worry about the rest, the other things.