FOS Audio: Paterno's Press Conference

The Nittany Lion coach met the media to talk about his team and the Cincinnati game. At his Tuesday afternoon session, he also discussed who should have played more against South Florida (Austin Scott and perhaps Anthony Morelli), gave an injury update and much more.

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is generally happy about his team's showing again South Florida, the play of his freshman receivers and the efffort of his special teams.

He is generally mad about Alan Zemaitis' hog-dogging, an unnamed member of the offense who did not block Saturday and, of course, the trouble-making media.

That's how it sounded to us, at least. To hear exactly what Paterno had to say, check out our audio files.



Joe Paterno Press Conference Recap

1. What areas need to improve coming off of Saturday's game?

The team has to understand that it can't make little mistakes because they turn into big things. The turnovers hurt Penn State and allowed South Florida back into the game after they were down 17-0. South Florida played a heck of a football game. That's a class operation. Their wide receiver just handed the ball to the referee in the end zone unlike Zemaitis, who held the ball out in front of him before he crossed the goal line, which bothered Joe. They kicked the heck out of the ball. Joe feels good that the team won on Saturday.

2. What is Jim Shaw's status and any change in the status of EZ Smith and Dan Connor?

Jim Shaw won't play this week. Hopefully, he'll only be out for a week. EZ Smith practiced last week and will again this week. Dan Connor has a problem with Judicial Affairs right now. Once they make up their mind, Joe will act.

3. Was not playing Anthony Morelli an oversight on your part?

Joe thought about using Anthony, but there was never a situation where he felt comfortable putting him into the game. He had a great week of practice last week and practiced well yesterday. Joe has to make up his mind to get Morelli into the game, but when and how he does it is tricky. Morelli is a player. Joe wants to be careful to make sure they put Morelli in the game when he can have some success. He'll play a lot more this year than he did against USF.

4. What do you think about the OL's performance and is Tyler Reed ready to assume a starting job?

Joe thought the OL was all right. People have a tendancy to underestimate South Florida. Their linebackers ran really well and were active. The down guys weren't big, but they're awfully active. They were similar to what Joe saw from Miami and FSU. The OL didn't do as well as they could have, but they were ok.

Tyler Reed's got to grow up a little bit. When he does and becomes more consistent, he can be a good football player.

5. Why didn't Austin Scott play more?

Tony Hunt was running the ball well. Scott's got to play. Joe wanted to see how Austin reacted at practice yesterday and Scott had a great practice instead of sulking. That's exactly what Joe wanted to see from him. He'll play more this week.

6. Talk about the defensive play particularly Tim Shaw and Tyrell Sales.

For a kid who hadn't played in a game, Sales did very well. He had to be responsible for the run and not the pass because that's not his strength right now, although it will be eventually.

Overall, they played well, but they did give up a few plays in the passing game.

7. How do you think Tony Hunt has responded to your challenge to become a better football player?

Hunt had a heck of a game. He's got speed. He's strong. He's a 225-pound tailback. He has a chance to be really good. So does Austin Scott and it's too bad Kinlaw is hurt because he would have challenged both of them.

8. Do you anticipate the freshmen wideouts getting more involved this week?

One of the most pleasant things that came out of Saturday's game is that the young players handled themselves with poise and didn't make a lot of mistakes. Joe hopes that they can build off of that and play those kids more because they're very gifted athletes. Part of it has to do with what Cincinnati decides to do defensively. You have to take what the defense is willing to give you.

9. Talk about Jeremy Kapinos and the game he had.

Kapinos was one of the strong suits of this team coming into the season. He's a conscientious kid. He works hard, not only on kicking the ball but on putting the ball inside the 20. Kevin Kelly pleasantly surprised Joe with the way he kicked. The kicking game was a plus for PSU.

10. Is depth on the defensive line a primary concern now?

Yes. Kids like Elijah Robinson and now John Shaw, who has been moved back to defense from offense, and Steve Roach, who has a lot of ability but needs to take the bull by the horns, have to step up. With Alford, Paxson, Elijah Robinson, Roach and John Shaw, they'll probably be all right.

11. Do people tend to underestimate Cincinnati, especially since PSU once beat them 81-0?

You're talking apples and oranges now. Cincinnati beat Penn State in 1983. Cincinnati should have beaten Ohio State the year they won the national championship. Their head coach was Ohio State's defensive coordinator. He knows a lot about Penn State. Joe thinks Cincinnati right now will be a very tough opponent.

12. Scott Paxson had a career high seven tackles against USF. Is he back in your good graces now?

That question gets Joe into an area that bothers him tremendously. What Joe does in terms of disciplining players he does. Paxson played well. He's a diabetic, meaning he has to do things differently than others do in order to play. He doesn't realize that he's a guy that could be a role model for diabetics. He has to have a lifestyle that's more disciplined than yours or Joe's. If he does that, he can be a heck of a football player at this level and the next level. He's got a tremendous amount of talent.

13. Who decides which players get onto the field during the course of a game?

Most of the time it's the position coaches who decide personnel matters, but once in a while, Joe will ask the coach why a player is in the game. Joe will occasionally ask an assistant to get a player off the field because they did something that bothered him, but he usually tries to stay out of it on game day.

14. What do you see from Cincinnati on film?

Cincinnati's different from South Florida. They had an outstanding quarterback last year, and they've lost a lot of players. They have a great fullback returning and a very good tight end. Joe can't say how good or bad the new quarterback is, but they did a lot more offensively last year than they did last week. Cincinnati's going to be tough. Defensively, Mark Dantonio certainly stymied Penn State a few times when he was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.

15. Talk about Michael Robinson's performance and what you expect from him this week?

Outside of a couple of the sacks, he did all right. He was a little nervous. Joe thinks Mike played well but made a couple of bad reads, including the interception. The sacks were mostly due to poor pass protection by the offensive line. One sack was the direct result of sheer laziness by one of the linemen. Take out the sacks and Penn State averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Even without the reverse, they would have been above 6 yards per carry. Michael did a good job, but he has to keep a handle on the football.

16. Do you think going up 17-0 caused the team to let down some?

Joe didn't get that feel. Every time you say things like that, you don't give the other guy credit. Joe was really impressed with the way South Florida was coached. Joe told the players and the assistants after the game that Coach Leavitt's team played a very solid football game. Leavitt coached under one of Joe's favorite head coaches, Bill Snyder of Kansas State. You can never think up 17-0 with 5 or 6 minutes to go in the first half that you have the game won. You're stupid if you do.

Penn State turned the ball over a couple of times, which prevented them from winning by a larger margin. Joe thinks the team played as well as could be expected against such a tough, well-coached opponent.

17. Were there any other players besides Morelli that you wanted to play more?

Scott should have played more. Maybe a couple of the linebackers and some of the young offensive linemen, but he's not going to list any names.

18. Talk about Derrick Williams' performance.

Derrick Williams is a heck of a football player. If you look at Hunt's long run, Derrick busted his butt to get over and make a block for him. He might block better than any wideout they've had since Bobby Engram. Overall, Joe was pleased with the way the team played against an opponent that runs as well and plays as hard as South Florida.

19. Were you surprised by the good performances by the freshmen?

Not surprised. Joe just wanted to make sure that they didn't overwhelm the freshmen. In fairness to the coaches, Joe asked them not to do too much or put the kids in positions that make them uncomfortable. Joe evaluated where the team was after Thursday's practice and told the assistants to stay away from certain things in the schemes. When the team got up 17-0, Joe didn't want to do anything that would lose the game, so he had the assistants keep things simple. Hopefully, they can add new things to the gameplan each week.

20. Are you concerned that the offense only ran 54 plays and the defense was on the field so much?

Joe hadn't thought about it. He thought the team played the game they way they should have. If he had to do it over, he would coach it the same way. He doesn't do

21. Do you miss the informality of the media relations with you from years past?

Joe does. He always thought the media was his friend when he started out. He thought he could sit around and talk over a couple of beers on Friday nights before games. Now he can't trust the media. He has to be so guarded in his comments now. He loves coaching. He loves the players. He doesn't like the media anymore. There's no other way to say it. A part of the job that he loves has been taken away from him. When he goes home at night, there are so many sports channels where everyone is criticizing everyone else.

Joe misses sitting around talking with the reporters where they would kid him and give him the business. He misses it, but he's certainly not going to get back into that mode.

22. Has there been anything definite with the team supporting the victims of Hurricane Katrina?

Joe told the players to wait and see what the university does. He thinks they did a great job collecting money at the game. $55,000 was raised, which isn't a great amount, but it's ok. Michael Robinson wants to do something, but

23. Is Matt Lowry with the team?

He will be coming in in January. He got hurt over the summer and wouldn't be able to practice so they are going to grayshirt him. The next couple of weeks, the coaches have to make up their minds about whether to play some of their really talented young players or redshirt them. This is a really fine freshman class and not just athletically. They are good leaders and listen to what they're being taught by the coaches. Joe is very excited about this class, including Knowledge Timmons who he thinks is going to be a really good football player, but where do you fit him in right now?


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