Penn State coach Joe Paterno met with the media last week and these are some of his thoughts after four days of spring practice.
Q. At quarterback, is (Matt) McGloin in the picture? And you also mentioned, I think, after the bowl game about the possibility of (Brett) Brackett (playing quarterback).
We haven’t done anything with Brackett (at quarterback). But McGloin, he’s definitely in the picture. McGloin is a good, solid kid. Smart kid. And handles it well. As I said, I’m not sure where we’re going with the quarterback situation right now. Obviously, we don’t have an established kid who has played a lot of football. I don’t think any of those kids have played much football. But we’re going to try to go step by step. Today is the fourth day. Then we’re going to take off over the Easter holidays and go back to work on Monday, the fifth day. We’ll have a couple of days of staff to evaluate the tapes and things of that sort and we can maybe get a little better feel as to where we’re going to go. But right now we’re not…that’s why I said it’s practice. Can’t you play golf or do something?
Q. Paul Jones has been in the school since January. What do you think so far about Paul Jones?
I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you. I’ve seen Paul Jones…we have a whole bunch of people practicing out there. I walk around and I try to watch the offensive line, the defensive line, watch the wideouts, watch the quarterbacks, watch the running backs. I probably have seen Paul Jones eight times in three days. He’s obviously a good athlete. I mean, he can run around and move a lot easier…it’s a tough situation when you walk into being a quarterback playing in a league we’re playing in and having to play some of the teams we have to play, particularly on the road when you have to play an Alabama, an Ohio State on the road…probably the number one and two teams pre season in the country. And then you have to play an Iowa team that plays such great defense on the road. So you have to be very, very careful as to what you can expect from a kid who just comes in.
Q. Who are some of the players who are in the running for the spots at offensive tackle?
Do you have a big pencil? And a big sheet? There again, I know it sounds like I’m being evasive. I can’t tell you. We’re moving guys around. We argue every morning, if you want to call it an argument or discussion, “so and so, can he handle the pass protection? Will somebody else be better? Let’s take a look at him. Let’s move this guy around.” For me to make any kind of a statement as to where people are going to play is ridiculous right now. We just don’t know. We have had one day in pads. The first two days we didn’t do anything in helmets. We’ve had one day in pads. I just…we’re going to move a lot of guys around. We’re going to try to get the five best offensive linemen on the first team. Then we’re going to try to get the second-best five offensive linemen on the second team. And we’ll go from there. But right now, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I had a staff meeting…we go through this every day. I always challenge them. “How about this guy? How about that guy? I like the way he came out of his stance. He’s not that tough. This guy, he can’t recover. He’s not strong enough yet. He’s a year away.” I mean, those are the kind of conversations that you have when you are trying to organize a new football team
Q. Joe, you’ve talked about discussing personnel decisions. Any thought will you keep Wisniewski at center or any thought of moving him back to guard?
We haven’t talked about that. I think that might come up. It depends on if we have a guy that can get the ball up at center. Nowadays the center is a tough job. It’s not just a question of getting the ball up, there’s so many of these defenses where the center is really going to handle a guy that’s off shoulder. It isn’t like the old days where you stuck him right out in front. Some people are coming back. Then he has to be able to make the long snap back on the shotgun. So right now Wisniewski is our center. Whether that changes or not, we’re trying a couple of other kids there because Wisniewski could be a good guard or he could be a center. But we really have not done anything about that. Thanks, guys. I don’t mean to be….as I said, it’s difficult for me to answer some of your questions and know what I’m talking about right now.
Q. How much do you expect Evan Royster to practice this spring? And then behind him with the running backs Brandon Beachum because of the knee?
Beachum won’t do anything this spring except maybe run around. We may wait and see a little bit on Beachum. I don’t want to work Royster too much. I think we’ve got…Royster doesn’t have a lot to prove to us. He’s a darn good football player, all-around football player. I think he’s…I certainly don’t want to get him out there and get him knocked around until we’re sure what we’re doing. So I wouldn’t expect him to get a lot of work. We will try to get the other kids some work.
Q. With Carter going and Beachum out for the spring practice, who are some of the guys you are looking at to bring some depth behind Royster this spring at the tailback position?
We have (Stephfon) Green and we have a kid by the name of (Shaine) Thompson, who was a walk on and we gave a grant to. And there’s a walk on by the name of (Derek) Day who I like very much. He’s not the biggest kid in the world, but I think he’s okay. And we’ll go from there.
Q. Is Curtis Dukes a possibility (at running back)?
Dukes has got a shot. Dukes has a long way to go as far as adjusting to the pass protection and things like that. I’m assuming without really knowing, I may not be fair to him on that. But he’s got a chance.
Q. Joe, will Chaz Powell be given a look at defense this spring?
Yes, we’re looking at him on defense.
Q. Joe, besides Chaz Powell going over to cornerback, are you contemplating any other position changes, looking at some guys in some new positions in the spring?
We’ll probably change 15 guys over a period of time. But, I’m not sure Powell is going to be a corner. I’m not sure what’s going to happen yet. Again, spring practice is a great time to take some kids who are one step away from being good, come out of their stance a little bit high and do things, fundamentals, and to get a feel for what their potential is. And you have to be careful. You don’t go to spring practice with pre-conceived ideas as to who is going to go do what and what have you. You end up neglecting somebody who is maybe a late bloomer or a kid that’s coming out of a great winter program. Obviously, Powell is a good athlete. He can play both sides. He can play offense and he can play defense. We’re going to take a look at him on defense.
Q. Do you think D’Anton Lynn will play any safety?
D’Anton Lynn is a good defensive back. Whether he’s going to play safety or corner, I don’t know yet. We’ve only had three days of practice, so it’s hard for me to evaluate. You’re not allowed to do much with them in the winter program as far as actual football. You can get them in shape and you can do different things like that. D’Anton Lynn is a guy with a lot of athletic ability, and he can probably play corner or he can play safety. But right now we’re just trying to get a feel for the football team and where he would fit in.
Q. Joe, you lost your top three linebackers. Plus you said Mauti is limited. Who are some of the guys in the linebacker mix who are getting a lot of work now?
There again, we’ve got…we have (Chris) Colasanti and (Bani) Gbadyu and (Nate) Stupar, all are kids who have played. I’m probably missing somebody else. That’s a position that I don’t study as much because I think we’re in pretty good shape there. I think we have some people that can play over there at linebacker. So those three — Stupar has played, (Mike) Yancich should be ready to be a good football player, Colasanti, I mentioned, Gbadyu, Stupar. And Mauti is not in the mix right now because he’s not doing much. But I think we’re going to be all right at linebacker.
Q. Can you talk about the kicking game and special teams?
I think (Collin) Wagner…we have a good place kicker. We obviously have to replace a fine punter (Jeremy Boone). There again, you guys act like we have had a lot of time to practice. You can’t do anything with them in the winter program. We have had three days. That’s why I think this press conference is ridiculous, to be frank with you. I can’t tell you. We’ve obviously got to find a punter. I think we’ll have a snapper, long snapper. We had a kid work at it last year and a couple of other kids are working at it. But as far as who is going to punt, I couldn’t tell you beans who is going to punt. But I can tell you that we have Wagner. I think Wagner is a darn good field goal kicker.
Q. Are you are spending any…putting any extra emphasis on special teams this spring?
Obviously, we’ve got to do a little better job of punt coverage. I think that hurt us last year, in two tough football games. Yeah, we’re spending…trying to find some guys that might do a little better job on coverage and that kind of thing. Yeah, that’s been one of our…somebody asked me about priorities, and I probably messed up on that one. I think that’s a high priority for us, to do a better job with our punt game.