Paterno: "Can't Blame Anyone But Myself"

Nittany Lion mentor says poor coaching, injuries have led to Penn State's slow start in the Big Ten this season.

There has been much talk of finger pointing since Penn State lost a 33-13 home game to Illinois at Beaver Stadium Saturday to fall to 3-3 on the season and 0-2 in the Big Ten.

Nittany Lion coach Joe Paterno got in on the act during his Big Ten teleconference Tuesday, pointing a proverbial finger at two key culprits he says have led the team's issue - himself and a rash of injuries.

“I think overall we were poor (against Illinois),” said Paterno, whose squad is off this coming Saturday. “I don't think I did a very good job of getting them ready, to be frank. We just weren't on top of some things, didn't make a couple of adjustments we could have made.”

In terms of injuries, Paterno repeatedly stated he did not want to use them as an excuse.

“As far as I'm concerned, the less we talk about it, the better I like it,” he said.

But he repeatedly went back to the subject, whether prompted by questions or on his own, at one point saying the team's veteran medical staff indicated, “this is the worst situation they've had in 24 years since they've been here.”

Paterno confirmed that safety Nick Sukay is out for the season with a pectoral injury that may require surgery. Other than that, he was short on details, and even suggested that PSU's athletic communications department should put out a release updating the status of all the injured players.

Asked to address postgame player comments indicating finger pointing was an issue during the Illinois loss, Paterno said, “If there is a lot of finger pointing, that's detrimental and doesn't help. … We really just got outplayed.”

The players had Sunday and Monday off. Paterno plans to hold a squad meeting later today and then a practice where the team will only be in shells.

He said they will “try to get over some of the mistakes we made and try to get, you know, to refocus on what we've got to do to get better. I thought after we had four or five games, we'd be a little better football team than we are now. I can't blame anyone but myself for that now.”

Paterno is not alone. Following the slow start to the Big Ten season, there have been renewed calls from fans for the 83-year-old to retire.

“I haven't got time to even think about that,” he said when asked about the criticism. “I'm just trying to get our team a little better.”


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