Here are some of the highlights from Joe Paterno’s press conference today:
Q. Joe, does Rob Bolden have to pass any more tests before he’s cleared to play? If not, do you expect him to play Saturday?
COACH PATERNO: They tested him Sunday and he still had some memory problems. They’re going to test him again tomorrow and see where he is. If you ask me, if we had to make a guess, I’d guess he’s not going to make it. But, that does not mean that I know what I’m talking about.
As I said to most of you, I don’t have an MD at the end of my name and I’m not a psychiatrist. They’re watching him very closely and obviously we’d love to have him play. But we’re not going to take any chances. A young man like that, regardless of whether he’s a football player or not a football player, you’d want to be careful about it. So I don’t, I just don’t know. But if they allow him to play, it will be because they’re sure he’s okay.
Q. Could you assess Matt McGloin’s performance Saturday? And will he be the starter if Rob couldn’t go?
COACH PATERNO: Let me answer the latter part of the question. We’ll let the kids (Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome) compete this week with the idea we won’t have Bolden and see what happens.
I thought McGloin poor kid, I always kill his name when Matt went in the game, I thought he had to go in there with very little preparation. I thought he did a very good job.
Obviously, the first play was a great one (TD pass to Derek Moye). And I think he got carried away on the second one when he threw the interception. But I thought he did very well under the circumstances and will get better if he has to play more.
Q. Could you assess the Silas Redd performance on Saturday, and are you planning on using him more, getting him more into the offense?
COACH PATERNO: I think we have…obviously (Evan) Royster is our first stringer. He’s played a lot of football, has had a lot of success, knows what’s going on and is very dependable. Then both (Stephfon) Green and (Silas) Redd we like very much and we’d like to get both of them a little bit more work.
So for me to tag Redd in front of Green would probably not be fair. I think both have good potential. I think Redd played maybe 18-20 plays, and I think Green played 18-21 I don’t know. But they’re both playing about the same amount of time. Green plays maybe a little bit more on special teams. I’m not sure about that.
But I think that it’s a nice situation. Both those kids could be good football players eventually. But right now they’re sharing some opportunities.
Q. Is Newsome practicing full strength, and how much work do you expect him to get with the first team quarterback this week? Is Kevin Newsome back to practicing at full strength after you said he was sick last week and had a knee injury?
COACH PATERNO: Newsome practiced yesterday. And I’m assuming he’s going to practice the rest of the week, and we’ll see where we go from there.
I don’t think the knee injury was a serious one. I think it probably scared him a little bit. But our medical people don’t think there’s anything wrong with Kevin, and that Kevin can compete. And I think that’s what he’s going to do this week.
As I said earlier, we’re not going to make a decision until we’ve got a chance to see these guys operate with some pressure on them in a week of practice and we’ll go from there.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Chaz Powell, where you think he might fit into your defensive plans this week; and is there even a shot he could take away some playing time away from Stephon Morris?
COACH PATERNO: Chaz Powell must be have an advertising agency (laughter). He gets more interest…Chaz I think he’ll play probably a little more this week. I don’t know.
Obviously Morris had some tough plays he had to make. He made a couple of real good ones and got hurt on a couple (at Minnesota). But I think Chaz has got….Chaz Powell has a lot of ability. If I would be critical of him is every once in a while he loses his concentration.
And when you’re playing where he’s going to be playing, at the corner, you’re under pressure every down. I think he needs to have a good week. If he has a good week, he’ll play more.
Q. The running game had a good second half last week, got off to kind of a slow start. How important is it to get off to a quicker start this week and try to control the ball against Michigan’s offense?
COACH PATERNO: I think we’ve got to play 60 minutes of really good football, on both sides of the football. I think it’s amazing, when you look at the tape of Michigan’s game against Michigan State and against Iowa, people like that, how well they played.
Outside of turnovers and a couple of major mistakes, they’re every bit as good as those two football teams on those particular days.
So, I don’t think it’s a question of how we start, it’s whether we’re ready to play 60 tough minutes and don’t make a lot of mistakes. And as I’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks, make some good plays, make some things happen for ourselves, which has been one of the problems we’ve had as a football team.
We just don’t make some big plays. We’ve had one long run for a touchdown outside of the kickoff return (Chaz Powell vs. YSU). We’ve dropped some tough passes in a couple of tough games. So we’ve got to make some things happen for ourselves.
But I think the first reaction to your question would be: We can’t worry about just half the game; we’ve got play the whole football game.
Q. Although he only played for a quarter and a half last week, did you feel like could you assess Rob Bolden’s performance? It kind of looked like maybe he had a break through game. He was playing at a really high level until he went down.
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think he’s still coming along. I’ve tried to get across that when you haven’t had a spring practice and you’ve got to be careful with what you put in that a kid can handle. We’ve had the kind of injuries we’ve had at key spots.
We’ve had to re-arrange our thinking about what we’re going to do with the tight end, the two tight end thing. We’re playing with a true freshman at tight end (Kevin Haplea) right now. The other one is down (Garry Gilliam).
It’s a make shift football team each week. And I think he (Bolden) did a tremendous job and hopefully he’s going to be okay this week and we’ll have him. I think he’s all business. Not very spectacular., doesn’t talk that much.
He’s not a guy that’s bouncing around out there. He does his job. Pays attention to details. Does his homework. And I think everything considered, a darn good year. And I just hope he’s going to be okay.
Q. You gave up 830 yards the last two weeks. Is that a bit of a concern that you’ve been giving up that many yards the last two weeks?
COACH PATERNO: Sure, it’s a concern. What else do you want me to say? We’re trying to get a little better. I said after the Illinois game I didn’t think we had played very well defensively.
I thought we played a little better against Minnesota, but you’ve got to give the other guys credit. The quarterbacks, the running backs, the size of the offensive lines that we’re playing against…
The organization, the coaching…Yeah, but it’s still when you give up that kind of yardage, it concerns you.
Q. Was Bolden’s injury officially ruled a concussion? And how impressed have you been with the way medical science has come with concussion research and head injury research with all the computers and things?
COACH PATERNO: You guys ask me questions, I don’t know the answer to those things. I’ve said this a million times to you guys: I only worry about things I can do something about. When it comes to something where it’s a decision I can’t make and shouldn’t make, I say, “hey, tell me what went on.”
When they tell me what’s going on, I try to get some things done. Right now Bolden’s a question mark. Have I relayed that into what’s happened around the world, no. All right? I don’t know. So I can’t, I can’t answer that.
Q. When Rob came out initially, was there a little misunderstanding of what his injury was? Because Mike (McQueary) looked like he tried to get him to go back in the game what happened there?
COACH PATERNO: Mike was concerned about the kid aggravating the injury. That’s what happens sometimes. A kid gets hurt; he’s got to be brave. You’ve seen it happen many times. Kids come off, holding their legs and all that stuff, and all they do is aggravate an injury.
In a situation like that, Bolden, we’ve never seen him hurt. And Mike was trying to say: “Sit down, let them look at you. Let them look at you,” which I think was very responsible on Mike’s part. I thought that was something that everybody would say: “Gee, that’s a great job Mike did.”
He tried to get the kid to just sit down until they had a chance to look at him.
Q. If Bolden can’t play, how would you expect McGloin to play if he has to start his first start?
COACH PATERNO: I said I don’t even know if we’re going to…one more time. We have a couple of kids who are going to practice this week. Whichever one looks as if he’s better prepared for this particular game, if Bolden can’t play, that’s the one who will play.
How well does he play? That’s why we play. I hope he will play well. I don’t care who we play, just that they’ll play well. And what else can I tell you?
Q. Can you talk about the challenge your defense faces, because it appears, at least watching Michigan, that they play an extraordinarily fast tempo, that might be a little bit more unique than maybe what you’ve seen so far this season, even if Robinson or (Tate) Forcier are in the game?
COACH PATERNO: We’ve played against people who are fast. I don’t think we’ve played against anybody who is any better offensively than Michigan is right now.
Michigan is, as I said earlier, I think Michigan’s offense has been very, very good. If they had not had some turnovers against a couple of very good football teams, they might have won another game or two.
I think there’s no question that they have a fine offense and it’s going to be a very difficult job for us. The quarterback, as we said earlier, there’s a lot of good quarterbacks in the league.
And certainly Michigan’s got a third kid (Devin Gardner) that didn’t play that was one of the more sought after kids in the country. They’re a good football team. Got a heck of an offensive line. So we’ve got our hands full.
Q. Curtis Drake and Andrew Szczerba, is there any chance that either of them plays again this season?
COACH PATERNO: Szczerba, he’s out for the year.
Q. What about Curtis Drake, are you thinking of
COACH PATERNO: Curtis Drake is out for the year. You kind of fooled me with the two names. I thought that was well known.
Q. Would you be open to using multiple quarterbacks depending on Bolden’s status this week, or would you rather settle on one guy, settle on one starter?
COACH PATERNO: Play it by ear. I hope I’ve got options. The more options I’ve got, the better I like it.
Q. It’s going to be the last Penn State-Michigan game for at least two years; is that just one of the unfortunate side effects of expansion, not being able to play the other teams in the other division as much?
COACH PATERNO: There again, I haven’t thought about next year. We don’t play Michigan next year? I know Michigan had an open day when we played them this year. I know Ohio State has an open date before we play them. All right. I think the Big Ten does a great job scheduling.
But honest to goodness, we don’t play Michigan next year? Are you sure about that? Okay. Who are we playing instead? Geez, you mean you know the negative but you don’t know the positives? There’s got to be somebody. It’s probably Nebraska. (They’re) Probably sticking Nebraska right in there.
They’re probably going to they’ve got to get – we’re going to play Nebraska every year. That I know, because Tom Osborne and I talked. So we’re playing them. So they may have replaced (Michigan) for a year or two, I don’t know. I really don’t.
Q. How do you prepare for a quarterback like Robinson? Do you have guys on the foreign team who can do some of the things that he does; do you put a running back there? How do you handle that?
COACH PATERNO: We have some of the guys who can do some of the things he does. But we don’t have anybody that quick and who can do we try to emphasize the fact that you can’t get careless with them.
You’ve got to understand anytime he’s got his hands on the football he’s liable to just turn it on and make a big play on you. So everybody’s got to be alert and know where he is, and knowing when he’s got the football, that kind of thing.
But we’ve only practiced one day. So it’s hard for me to tell you where we are with it. But we’re not going to stop him. He’s going to make yardage on us, because he’s too good. He’s too good for that.
I just hope that we can get, that we can make some plays on him.
Q. Have you thought much about how this game, what it could do for your season, a big game at night? You’ve already had a couple of losses. But how do you look at what this game could do for you?
COACH PATERNO: I think, number one, it should be a fun night. I mean, that’s why you’re in it. Night game at home, thank God we’re not on the road. Night games on the road are not no sleep on Saturday night. At least we’re home, we can go home and go to bed. I think it’s going to be it should be that kind of a game that you look forward to.
How would that affect us for the rest of the season? I’m trying to take it one at a time. I can’t worry about what’s it going to mean later down the road. I just hope we play well. I hope we play better. Hope if we get licked, we get licked because they beat us and we don’t beat ourselves. That kind of typical coaching reaction to a big game.
Q. You talked a lot about last week about emotion, playing with more emotion and enthusiasm, having the team play with that. Is that still a point of emphasis now? Is that something that you think you need to concentrate on for the rest of the year for this team?
COACH PATERNO: I hope it carries over on that, obviously. I think I’m responding to the question about how this game, where does it stack up as far as the whole season goes.
I’ve tried to get across to you, if Penn State plays Michigan and we’re not excited about playing that game, then we’re in the wrong business. And the kids went to the wrong school. I mean, I’m hoping we’re going to play with a lot of emotion, a lot of enthusiasm. Hope the crowd is great. Hope it’s just a great night for college football.
And I hope we can, as I said earlier, hope we play well, as well as we can play. And that obviously entails emotion. You don’t want to go out there and sit on your hands. We want to go out there and have a lot of emotion and have a lot of fun and see how good we’re playing a good football team. We’re not playing…we’re playing a good football team and Rich (Rodriguez) has done a good job.
He put up for a couple of years where they struggled a little bit. But he’s got the kind of football team now he’s comfortable with. And they show it. So it’s going to be it should be a game people enjoy watching.