PSU Media Day: Paterno PC Recap

Get a recap of what Joe Paterno had to say about the 2006 edition of the Nittany Lions during his Media Day press conference held earlier today.

Miscellaneous Notes

1. Greg Harrison and Rich Ohrnberger have switched positions with Harrison moving to left guard to compete with Gerald Cadogan for the starting job while Ohrnberger battles Robert Price. Harrison said that the move was made because his strengths such as footwork and pulling fit better at left guard than right.

2. Tamba Hali was back in State College today to receive his diploma and attend graduation. Joe Paterno opened his press conference talking about what a great person and player Tamba is.

3. On August 25, Penn State will launch, a website dedicated exclusively to Penn State football. It will feature stories from around the nation about the team as well as the features that you see on the Penn State Football Story. There will be approximately 30 videos on the site available for viewing the first day.

Joe Paterno Press Conference Recap

1. Talk about Jed Hill and his brother's injury fighting overseas.

Jay Paterno recruited Jed and is close to him. Joe does not talk to him as much. What do you say? Thank goodness there are people willing to go and fight for our country. Jed is working hard. Joe will watch him to make sure that he remains focused on practice.

2. How much hunger and desire offset experience?

The team has had three days of practice and were held around classes and final exams. Joe has a very tentative evaluation of what he's seen thus far. The team has worked hard when they've been on the field but Joe has noticed that some people were a little preoccupied with the class work. Joe thinks he has a good football team and that the players will work hard. Beyond that, he doesn't know much.

3. There are a couple of positions that are locked down with guys like Paul Posluszny, Levi Brown, Anthony Morelli and maybe Jason Alford. Other than that, it's pretty wide open. It's not something where eight or nine guys have starting jobs sewn up.

4. Could you expand on a comment you made in Chicago when you said Morelli reminds you of Galen Hall at quarterback?

Joe actually said Morelli's release reminds him of Galen Hall. Both could get rid of the ball quickly. Morelli's arm is much stronger.

5. Is there so much turnover on the offensive line that you feel like you may have a problem are there?

There are some things they won't be able to cover in practice, situations that happen only in games that might be a problem for the new guys. But they might be more athletic than last year's group. Whether they can handle some of the stunting and defensive looks that they will see may be a problem, but Joe thinks they have the people in place to be a good line.

6. How much will the offensive scheme change with Anthony Morelli in there?

It won't change as much as you think because Anthony runs better than people give him credit for. It depends on what defenses decide to do. They have to give up something to get something. The scheme won't change much. Hopefully, the offense will be prepared to take advantage of what the defense gives them.

7. What are you looking for from the running back position?

Somebody would have to beat Tony Hunt out of course. Austin Scott has that kind of ability, and they will battle that out. Kinlaw is in there as well. He was able to run away from people in high school, but now he has to learn to be more patient when running the ball.

8. Will you focus more time on special teams in preseason practice than you did in the spring?

Joe thinks the special teams is ok. They know they have two guys that can kick the ball well. The special teams are right where they ought to be.

9. How will the competition at backup quarterback shape up?

Cianciolo, Suhey and Clark will compete for the job, but Joe couldn't say who would be #2 from that group. Pat Devlin has had mono and has not practiced yet. Brett Brackett is a very talented kid but it's tough to get him a lot of reps, so it will be between the three older players.

10. Will Justin King play defense exclusively this season?

They recruited Justin as a cornerback. If the offense stays healthy, then you probably won't see Justin play any offense because they have enough people who can make plays on offense.

11. Despite the secondary's inexperience, are you glad that they all can run at least?

They are all excellent athletes, and not just the first four. The backups can all run as well. It will take getting into a game and getting a feel for things to make them comfortable.

12. Can you compare the first four games last year to the first four this year?

Joe is only focused on Akron. People don't realize how good that team is. They have a heck of a running back and a quarterback who is an outstanding athlete. The schedule is tough to start with, but Joe can't remember how he felt going into the season last year. This team will have its hands full

13. Is it hard to keep the players focused on Akron when Notre Dame is right around the corner?

Akron is a big time football team. Joe won't have to convince the players to focus on Akron. They will do it, or they will get licked.

14. Where does BranDon Snow stand?

BranDon will not play in the first couple of games for reasons Joe won't discuss. The offense does not use the fullback as much as they used to. They have Matt Hahn who has become a good fullback. They moved Mickey Shuler to fullback because Joe thinks that is his best position. Dan Lawlor is also in that mix. Joe thinks they are fine ar fullback for what they want to do with the position.

15. Are you concerned at all about Paul Posluszny after the knee injury?

Paul could have practiced in the spring. He was chafing at the bit to get in there and Joe had to hold him out. He is wearing a brace right now in practice at the doctors' request, but the braces they have today are so light that it's not an issue. Paul has done everything that the rest of the squad has done.

16. What is Deon Butler's biggest strength?

He was overlooked because he is not a big kid, but he knows how to catch the football and can get off the line and run solid routes. He's a heck of a football player.

17. Is there anything you like about Media Day?

It bothers Joe because the team hasn't practiced enough for him to be able to say a whole lot about specific players or positions. He likes the team and their attitude, but if you start asking about who's going to be the starter here or there, Joe doesn't know who will be able to handle a tough preseason practice. Joe has to beat the players down during the preseason to find out who he can count on in the fourth quarter of a tough football game.

So, he knows he has to give the media something, but there's really not much he can say at this point.

18. How has Dan Connor grown as a person and a player since his off the field troubles last year?

Dan Connor is a heck of a football player. All the linebackers are good players and they each do something well that compliments the players around them. Dan has a bit of a wild streak but Joe thinks they have gotten him straightened out. It goes back to one of his favorite sayings. Youth is a disease but it can be cured.

19. Other than Shuler, are there any other position changes?

Not right now, although there probably will be once they get into practice more and find out where they need some depth or where they have injuries.

20. Do you have any preconceived notions about how many times you want Derrick Williams to touch the ball in a game?

Again, it depends on what the defense gives them. Obviously, you'd like Williams to get his hands on the ball as many times as you can because he's such a clever, good athlete. They are fortunate to have a number of good athletes at wideout. Joe did not expect Deon Butler to be as dominant as he was last year and Jordan Norwood also surprised him with how dependable he became over the course of the season.

21. Talk about the defensive line.

Ed Johnson, Chris Baker and Elijah Robinson are three big guys that can run but none of them have ever been able to sustain that intensity you need throughout a preseason. The potential is there with those guys and Josh Gaines. If they make up their minds to play tough, then the team will be in good shape there.

22. Will this be more of a teaching preseason for the defensive coaches?

Joe thinks so. Tom Bradley has a lot of work to do this preseason. Joe is always telling his defensive coaches that the defense has to play faster, meaning anticipate things and make plays. Once the players get comfortable, they have enough athletes to have a solid defense. The defense will be good eventually once they get exposed to some tough situations in games.

23. Will Justin King, Derrick Williams and Rodney Kinlaw be part of the return game again?

Those players will be there. They're also taking a look at Lydell Sargeant. Joe thinks they'll be ok in the kick and punt return game. They have to get Austin Scott in there on kick returns because he has such great vision. The return men will be fine as long as they have some people to block for them.

24. What are your recollections of Keith Dorney?

He started as a true freshman on the offensive line which is unusual. He was a big, strong kid but what set him apart is that he was a great technique guy. Dorney reminds Joe of Dan Dierdorf who he coached in the Hula Bowl. Both were great technique guys. The difference is that Dorney got a good education and Dierdorf went to Michigan.

25. Talk about the rule changes.

Joe is not happy about the rule changes. He knows they were made for television and it changes the end of game scenarios. Joe has to put the team in the kinds of situations that will crop up now to see what they'll do. Joe's not happy but that's the way it is and that's the way his team will play it.

26. You can't let anyone do whatever they want to do. Paul and Alford won't win games by themselves. You have to get a bunch of guys out there that are comfortable. You're only as good as the weakest player on the field. You can only do what the least person can handle. Offenses can spread you out now and do anything they want to do, so you have to make sure that you put 11 guys on the field, the 11th poorest guy can handle what you're asking the team to handle.

27. How does not having a bye week affect the pace of practices and what are your thoughts on the 12-game schedule?

Joe thinks not having a bye week will make things difficult. You have to watch what the players can do. Joe really takes exception with Miles Brand's comment that not having a week off makes no difference. The week off was used to put some new wrinkles in, get players rest and let them catch up on their class work. 12 weeks straight will be very tough.

28. Where do you feel Morelli is in terms of poise and confidence?

Morelli is not there yet but he'll get there. He has gotten a bad rap from somewhere because his high school team didn't throw the football a lot. He needs a good preseason and a little luck early in the season, and he'll be fine. Morelli won't be able to run as well as Michael Robinson did, but he can throw the football better than Robinson could. He's got a stronger arm and he's more accurate. They might work more in practice on a couple of things that Morelli is going to have to do in the clutch. He's only thrown 25-30 passes thanks to his dumb head coach who didn't let him throw the ball more the last two years.


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