Opening Comments: "George Lewis underwent surgery yesterday. I think most of you knew that he was hurt during the ballgame Saturday. Unfortunately it was a pretty significant injury. He had a knee repair done yesterday. I'm very happy to say the surgery went well. The repair was good. We're very, very confident that he'll back here working out in six weeks and hopefully he'll ready for spring practice. That's kind of the target we're setting for him right now. Not the same as, but a lot like Chad Greenway's so hopefully his recovery go just as well and we'll get him back on his feet."
"Also Eric Jensen had his foot repaired. He had an injury as I said ‘turf-toe' for the lack of a better word. I'm no medical expert, but that was surgery repaired yesterday. We're probably looking at 3-5 weeks. That's a tough nagging injury. Our medical staff thought the repair was the best way to go. I'm confident that was the right thing to do. Hopefully we'll get Eric back at it, he'll start to work out in 2 weeks, and then we'll go from there."
"Then the two guys up in the air right now, probably 3 guys I should say. Aaron Greving will be more of day to day, but right now I'm not overly optimistic. He's just not at full speed at this point. So we got some work to do there. Looks very good, we're very hopeful that both Fred Russell and Bob Sanders will be ready to go. There scheduled to practice today. Hopefully we'll get a good week of practice with them. That's kind of where were at on the injury front."
"Certainly Saturday was a good day as I mentioned, good to get back at it and respond in a real positive way. I think the guys were ready to play. Did a good job for the most part out there. We're seeing a lot of good things and a lot of improvement. I thought our defense was a little bit more aggressive in the back end and that was good to see. Also it was good to play a lot of players. Any time you get a chance get guys into the ballgame, its great for everybody. That was a real positive. That being said, our focus is on the Big Ten schedule. We get to open it up this week. Certainly we got a great challenge, a great opportunity in front of us to travel over to State College and play in front of their crowd. They got a tremendous crowd like a lot of them in the Big Ten. It's a great environment from that standpoint. And certainly they have an excellent football team. ‘We are Penn State'. They are Penn State. They're back to being Penn. St. like you think of. They are very good looking football team. Take a look at their record quickly. Last year they started out to a real tough start. I believe they were 0-4 at one point, came back won 5 out the next 7, and have won 3 now. So you look at it there 8-2 over the last 10 games and that doesn't happen by accident. They've got an excellent football team. Very strong on defense. Start up front. They have a very good defensive line. As good of set tackles as you'll find. Haynes outside is an excellent player. The linebacker corp is solid. The fact that they got back Derrick Wake back, he's their outside linebacker that got hurt against Wisconsin last year. He's like a returning starter. Very good athlete. He's back. And they're talented in the back end. Two old timers with Scott and Mayer, and this guy Gardner has done a good job for them as well. So they're good on defense."
"Special teams they're good. Good punter, good kicker, and good return guys. I think the story of their football team is their offensive development. That really started right about the game with us when Zach Mills came in. TO me, he's been the difference. The fact that they got a quarterback who's established. They believe in him. You factor in an offensive line that is a lot more experienced than what we've seen the last two years. They've always had good runningbacks and receivers. This year is the same way. Johnson, Johnson, and Johnson. All three Johnsons are pretty good. You factor that in with the offensive line and Zach Mills, and in case that doesn't give you enough problems they bring this Robinson in off the bench. Kind of a Kordell Stewart type. So we got a lot to prepare for. The bottom line is they are playing good football because are a good football team. They got good players and needless to say they're well coached. So its going to be a great challenge and one we're looking forward to."
In reference to George Lewis' injury, could Chad Greenway help fill in for Lewis?
"That is one thing I failed to mention. Chad is coming back. He has been cleared to practice, full speed practice and game competition. So we have to be smart, just use common sense in how we bring him back. Our plan is to move Mike Follet back outside at the outside backer position. He'll be back out there; Chad will work inside behind Kevin Worthy. Fred Barr will probably work both positions. He has been a Will-backer before. I don't think we'll mess with Abdul. No sense in complicating things for him at all. I think you're probably looking at Mike and Fred backing up at Will with Chad coming on hopefully."
Is it less intimidating going into Beaver Stadium, knowing that Iowa has won there two years ago? Does that give your guys more confidence?
"Sure, I hope that will help. I look back to the 80's and winning at Michigan in '81. That gave us a great shot in the arm throughout the 80's to play Michigan head to head. Hopefully the past success we've had last two trips to Penn St. even back to '83, we played a great game over there. Hopefully, maybe that is something we can build upon. We're looking for every advantage we can get. That is certainly one we'll touch upon"
Is this your own personal Iowa State game, you being from Pennsylvania?
"No, not at all. In fact it's a big pain in the butt because when it's your state, you get more ticket requests. I hate the ticket business. I'm not in the ticket business. My wife and Rita, my secretary handle that. That part is a little bit of a nusciance. But then again, I don't let it be a nuiscance in my life. There are some special interests in all that. If I were playing it may be a factor. Fortunately for us I'm not playing. So, just like they didn't recruit me. That's why Coach Paterno has won a lot of games. It really won't be a factor." Does a different intensity accompany the start of conference play?
"I think so. I mean, obviously as we told our players, we have three seasons and two of them are gone now. This is the longest one. This is the one that has the most interesting turns and twists. When you're in a conference that's why the idea is to win championships. All that being said, yeah there is a real significance to it. That being said, this is one game out of eight. Win, lose, or draw, there are going to be seven more to go. So what we need to do now is brace up mentally to be prepared week in and week out for eight weeks and find out where we're at."
Brad ran a little more last week. Were part of them called and part of them improvised?
"Yeah, I think its fair to say both ways, I think he did a good job improvising when things broke down either protectionally or off a blitz or if nobody was open. He did some good things with his feet. I thought he played a good game with his head and that is certainly every bit as important."
You must have been happy with the play of Jermelle Lewis. It sounds like he'll be needed with the shape of your running back personnel.
"Timing couldn't be better. I've never been around where you could have too many good runningbacks. Ladell was so durable for the three years we had him and the year before that you know; sometimes you take that for granted. It's certainly good, that we have three guys now that we have a lot of confidence in. Jermelle as you know was down in the second tier before the season got going. But I think that is one thing that over the last 4 weeks that we feel an awful lot more confident and comfortable with him being in there now. He's worked at it, and that's a credit to him. He's worked at it."
Referring to the lack of a challenge the defensive line has faced to this point this season, will the defensive line be ready for the ‘in your face' challenge this week?
"That's one thing that remains to be seen. Like I said, I think the statistics right now are fairly meaningless. Although as I've told you all along I just watch what our guys are doing on film and I'm pleased with the way they're attacking up front. We're not as physical looking as we've been but I think we are playing physical and I'm happy to see that. Although we haven't played a group quite like this yet. We're playing a pretty veteran group this week. This will be a pretty good measuring stick for us up front."
Clinton Solomon has made a couple great catches. Has he been doing that in practice as well?
"Yeah, as I said he caught on right off the back, back early in August. He's doing some great things. The catch he made the other day was beautiful, both catches were actually. That's a great thing. That's what we've seen from him and I think he'll be able to give us a big play hopefully for four years. All that being said, he's a great young man. Tremendous young man, smart, hard-working. But he's a young man, a young player still. His eyes will be wide open on Saturday I promise ya. I don't think he's been in that one yet, in that environment quite yet. So that's something you got to keep in mind. You got to let players come along as they will. We have high hopes for him."
What worries you most this week?
"Their football team. They are an excellent football team. What are they 12 in the country? They deserve their ranking. They're an excellent football team. All that being said, it all comes down to what we do. It really comes down to what we do. It starts in practice. Hopefully our guys will have a great week of practice to prepare. I'm sure they're anxious to play. I'd really be disappointed if they weren't excited. That's the fun of conference play. Playing at home, playing on the road. It's fun to play great teams. Ultimately all we control is our performance. Hopefully we'll be ready to go."