Urban-Legend Press Conference

Meyer and Paterno got together via teleconference to talk about the upcoming Outback Bowl matchup between Florida and Penn State.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Florida counterpart Urban Meyer held a joint teleconference Monday morning to discuss their teams' upcoming matchup in the 25th Annual Outback Bowl in Tampa.

But to hear each talk about the other's program, you'd never know the New Year's Day game will be a meeting of 7-5 programs coming off disappointing seasons.

“We're going to have to spend a lot of time lining up properly and reading some things,” Paterno said. “We're gonna have to play one heck of a football game. We have to be in position to make a tackle and we have to make the tackle, because if we miss one or two guys and they get out in the open, they're gone. You're looking at a 45-point game.”

As to what motivation a 7-5 team might have in a bowl, Meyer said, “There are certain players, it doesn't matter, they just love the game of football. And it helps when you play a school the caliber of Penn State, because it is instant respect. When you play Coach Paterno, you better be ready to go.”

And that was pretty much the theme of the 30-minute press conference. Paterno had the best line when comparing Florida's speed to that of LSU, which Penn State faced in a quagmire in the Capital One Bowl last year. The Lions won the game.

“The good Lord took care of me,” Paterno said. “It rained like the dickens. … If I can get it to rain again and it's nice and sloppy, that (speed) won't be as prominent a factor.”

The Nittany Lions practiced on campus last Friday and Saturday and will do the same this week. Details are still being worked out, but the initial plan is to find a hotel in Clearwater Beach with an arrival date of Dec. 20, or so.

Penn State is practicing at its indoor facility while in Happy Valley.

“But that's not the same as being outside and working on your passing game and kicking game and things like that,” Paterno said.

The Lions are set to move to the official bowl team hotel Dec. 26. Florida, meanwhile will practice in Gainesville until it is scheduled to arrive at its bowl hotel the same day.

Paterno, for one, is looking forward to getting away from campus.

“One of the advantages of a bowl game is … you have some kids who have to compete,” he said. “They have to be in situations where there is something on the line. You have to find out which kids just like to play and they're not looking over their shoulder wondering if there is an agent involved or whether they are gonna carry the ball enough times or if they're getting enough ink.”

One job that won't be open during PSU's bowl prep is quarterback, where redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin is now firmly entrenched as the starter over freshman Rob Bolden.

“Matt is our quarterback,” Paterno said.

Meyer, meanwhile expects to use as many as three quarterbacks, a tactic he employed after the Gator offense struggled early in the season. Paterno said he has not yet seen enough tape of this year's Florida team to have a good feel for how to combat the three-headed QB.

But he did admit to paying close attention to Meyer's operation over the past few years, and not just because the two struck up a friendship on coaching trips.

“He's got a great feel for the game,” Paterno said. “I've looked at a lot of tape of his games through the years because he always seems to be one step ahead of the people he's playing against.”

The admiration is mutual.

“Joe Paterno and Sue Paterno are great friends of Shelley and myself,” Meyer said. “Coach Paterno is college football. He does it the right way. It's an honor to be mentioned with and to coach against him.”

SHORT SHOTS

• Paterno said linebacker Mike Mauti will be back for the bowl game after missing time late in the regular season with a shoulder injury.

• Paterno re-iterated that safety Andrew Dailey and defensive end Kevion Latham will be playing their final game in the Outback Bowl. Though each has a season of eligibility remaining, both have jobs lined up.

• Asked if any juniors were considering declaring for the NFL Draft, Paterno said yes. Kind of. “We may lose another kid or two. It depends on whether some parents get involved with thinking their kid is a little bit better than they are and think they're pro players. That's stuff that goes on. I have to try to stay on top of that.”


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