It was certainly a good weekend for our football team. It was a hard fought game on both sides, and we really anticipated a tough challenge. I think Penn State's record is extremely deceptive. They played hard, as did both teams, and it came down to being a great defensive battle. We knew it would be tough to go in there and come out of there with a win. Both teams laid it all out there on the field and we are fortunate to get out of there with a win and we came out of there fairly healthy. Now we shift our sights to this week's game on the road again at Illinois. Last week read PSU offense?
Q: Was PSU predictable on offense last week?
I don't think it's so much Penn State's offense. We are veteran on defense, and we have some guys that have played awhile. Guys like Hodge and Greenway played well last year, and now they have some experience. I think our guys are making that experience play into their hands. Every team in the world has tendencies. As a player, you study tape and go into a game with more confidence. Our guys executed well, and Penn State did the same thing to us. It was just a great football game, with two teams slugging it out.
Q: What are the toughest aspects for young running backs in order for them to be able to see more playing time, like a Damien Sims?
They have to earn confidence that they can hold onto the football. You know what our situation is, and it was rare for a back to get tackled in the preseason, because we were so fragile there coming into the season. He did get hit, but its not the same. Until you get into game conditions, its always a concern.
I think the other concern is that you hope the guys know what their blocking assignments are, especially in pass protection, and that they can carry those out. That is always a tough chore for a young player. You hate to see a quarterback get hit unknowingly because a guy blew an assignment in pass protection. That is sudden death in football. Those are the biggest concerns we have.
Q: It was announced yesterday that you have sold out each and every home game for the first time in school history. What does that mean to you?
It's a great compliment to all of the guys that have worked hard. We are very enthused about that. When I was here in the 1980's, our fan support was phenomenal, and that left a lasting impression on me. It's great to see our fans get back into the swing of things, and they have been good from day one. I still marvel over the 1999 home finale, where we are 1-9 and we had 55,000 people there supporting the team; I think that as much as selling out this season illustrates how good our fans are. But it's great to see; the fans have been very supportive of our football team and we appreciate that.
Q: Drew Tate looked more like a sophomore last week. Was it that, or what Penn State threw at him
I think it was a combination of both. But the credit goes to Penn State. I said last Tuesday, when you looked at Penn State on tape, they have been playing great defense all season. When I looked at the game, I felt like it was an awful lot like what Ohio State walked into a year ago after the game we played against them. You can argue that Penn State won that game in some ways, but it was a great game. We knew that we were going into a tough environment against a team that is extremely good on defense. I think our teams looked like one another.
Drew is still a young guy and he has not played many games on the road. This is only his second year on campus and you go into a place like Penn State; you don't just walk in there and take it over. I think it was a combination of both and it all starts with the players on the field. Penn State made it difficult for us to do things consistently.
Q: There appeared to be some sniping going on between Tate and his receivers. Is that the sign of a leader, or immaturity?
One of the things I like about Drew is that he takes charge. He is a pretty knowledgeable guy. The good quarterbacks that I have been around all communicate in different ways, but the good ones let their teammates know what they expect and what they want them doing. If teammates make mistakes, I think that it's good that a quarterback points that out, and Drew did that. I am not saying that he is always right, either. To me it's an example that he cares and is passionate about what we are doing out there. He was frustrated, as he was having a tough day. But he will bounce back.