Paterno PC Audio and Recap

The Nittany Lion football coach talks about Penn State's win over Northwestern, this week's trip to Minnesota, which key PSU player is out for this game, which players are questionable and much more.

Hear what Joe Paterno had to say at the link below.

Note: There was an audience of fans at this press conference. A group of EPA workers were in the middle of a tour of the facility stopped and watched from the recruiting area above the press room. That is who Paterno addresses at the end of this file (and they give him a round of applause).

Hear Paterno Here.

Here is the recap of Paterno's PC:

1. Injury update on Levi Brown, Jim Shaw and yourself.

Levi Brown will not play this week. Jim Shaw is questionable as is Robert Price. Who cares about Joe? He has his bumps and bruises but he'll be all right.

2. How serious is Levi Brown's knee injury?

The coaches talked about it last week. He could have played last week and could play this week, but they don't want to take a chance. He'll be ready to go next week.

3. Does your team need to prove something to you this week by winning on the road?

Not really. They have to get a little better. Joe hopes they will be little better than they've been and keep progressing. When you get to be good, you really don't care whether you play home or away. When you're a good football team, obviously that makes a difference. This team just doesn't have that kind of experience yet, but Joe doesn't think that being on the road is a big problem.

The problem is that Minnesota is a lot better than people think they are. They lost to two outstanding teams in California and Michigan, who might be the best team in the conference. And they lost to Purdue who is playing much better than they did last year.

4. What is the injury to Robert Price and who will start if he can't play?

Cadogan will start if Price can't play. Price has a shoulder injury but he's not definitely out for Saturday. He's questionable.

5. Do you believe that not having your own stadium is a disadvantage as Minnesota does? Glen Mason believes it is a disadvantage.

If Glen said it, he means it. He must feel there's something lacking that might be there if they had their own stadium. Joe has never had that situation so he can't comment on it.

6. Talk about Sean Lee's development and how being around Connor and Posluszny has helped.

Being around those kids has certainly helped, but he is a heck of an athlete. He was probably one of the most underrated kids around coming out of high school. He carried his high school basketball team to the WPIAL championship basically by himself. Sean is not the fastest kid in the world. He's not the best jumper. He's a tremendous competitor and a smart athlete.

He has mimicked Connor and Posluszny some and he should. Obviously, when you have a player who goes to a school that has great players at his position, you would assume that the kid would watch the great players to see how they play. Unless you're a knucklehead, you watch the great players. Sean has definitely benefited from that.

7. You've had to shuffle the offensive line a bit. What do you think about the line right now?

Joe's concerned, not only about the kids they have to play. Joe's also concerned if someone gets hurt. They will have to play some kids who haven't played much in place of the injured starters and some of the starters haven't played a lot of football either. The ones behind the starters have even less experience. They're in a tenuous situation there.

He's concerned the line will see some things they haven't seen before and won't be able to handle it. It's like starting all over again. They did that with Akron and now they might have to do it all over again. Minnesota is a good football team. They have an aggressive defense. Joe is concerned.

8. Were you able to get a better understanding of the red zone problems against NW? What was the reasoning behind the onsides kick?

They had worked on the onside kick all week because the coaches saw a gap in the middle, but they didn't execute it very well. It was an opportunity to get the ball and put the game away. They didn't think Northwestern would be able to run it back and they didn't. They got better field position out of it obviously.

The red zone is really a question of making mistakes at the wrong time. Tony Hunt fumbled and that hurt. There were some other problems. It bothers Joe. When you're driving well and kids are doing things well and you can only get 3 points, 6 points, 9 points on three drives, that bothers you.

The team is working on it. Sometimes those things go away all of a sudden.

9. Talk about the receivers and how they have developed.

Joe thinks he has really good receivers. The hard part about handling the receivers is that a defense can take any one of them out of the game if they want to.

Last game, Butler was given room and Morelli was able to get the ball to him a couple of times on deep passes. Penn State was in formations that made it tough to double up on Butler.

They have 5-6 really good receivers. They're all good. Whichever one gets some room, the offense can take advantage of it.

10. Is it unusual to find a back like Tony Hunt who seems to relish running in heavy traffic and taking on tacklers?

The program has had some pretty good backs. Larry Johnson loved to run over people and Joe tried to get him to run away from people because he was so fast. Larry would just as soon run over you as run away from you.

Hunt is a good runner. He's one of the most underrated backs in the country. He's a big back, a 230-235 pounder. He can catch the ball. He can use his leverage and he's an excellent blocker. Tony Hunt is one of the better backs in the country. He wants to carry the ball a lot. Most good running backs want to carry the ball a lot. Blair Thomas was angry if he didn't get 25-30 carries a game.

11. What has been the difference between the success the receivers last year and this year? Are you a victim of your own success?

Joe isn't sure what the reporter means. They aren't a victim of anything. Teams have a lot of tape that they can watch to see what you do. You have to be ready to adjust. Joe thinks they've played some very fine football teams.

They haven't been a victim of anything. When people do one thing, the offense has to do something else to take advantage of what the defense is giving them. They haven't done that as well as they would like, but they're getting better at it.

12. Who will start for Levi Brown? Lloyd Carr said there should be a college football playoff. Has he ever talked with you about that?

Joe has never talked with Lloyd about that. He has always pushed for a playoff. It's a better way to do it. A couple of years ago, when Auburn was undefeated and #3, Joe was on the coaches' poll and voted all three teams #1. He got a call from USA Today saying he couldn't do that because it would mess the computers up. Joe said he couldn't say who was #1 because he hadn't seen the teams play. He got another call saying he couldn't vote for all three, but he refused to change his vote. So, he doesn't vote in the coaches' poll anymore.

Chris Auletta will play again in place of Levi Brown.

13. With some of the question marks you've had on the offensive line, how much of that affects what you can do offensively?

It affects you a lot. You don't want to ask kids to do things that they either haven't had enough reps or don't have the physical abilities to be able to do. Every time the offensive coaches put a game plan together, Joe sits down and cuts out plays that he thinks certain players won't be able to execute. There's no question it affects you.

14. Talk about Donnie Johnson's play.

Donnie has played very well. Donnie's been a great kid to have. He's never griped. He just went out there and did what he was supposed to do and tried to get better, and now he's a good football player.

Joe hopes that some of the young players learn from Donnie and see that it's not the end of the world if you don't have instant success. You can still be a good football player if you keep plugging away and take advantage of it when your opportunity comes.

15. How does Amir Pinnix stand up to the likes of Maroney, Barber and Russell?

He's comparable to those guys. They're all big backs. They're tough kids. It's a typical Minnesota team. They have a great offensive line that's coached well. They do a lot of good things up front. They have a good running back but if you get reckless trying to stop the run, now they have a good quarterback. He's very mature. A big kid with a good arm.

16. Talk about Anthony Morelli's character through the first half of the season and is he on the pace you want him to be on?

Anthony has done as well as Joe could expect him to do. He's taken some bumps and bruises. Joe has griped about him. He has been unfairly criticized about some things he didn't have control over. He's showing more and more leadership all the time. He's stronger in the huddle and he's making good progress. He's just got to keep playing.

17. You've said that this will become a very good football team eventually. Are they where you expected them to be right now?

Joe thinks the team is about as good as it could be at this point. The thing that worries him is the injuries. They're going into the game Saturday without Levi Brown and with only one senior on the entire offense in Tony Hunt except when BranDon Snow gets in there, then it's two.

Obviously, no one likes to see the two losses, but Penn State lost to two very good football teams. Joe knew before the season started those games would be problems with an inexperienced football team.

18. What are Terrell Golden's and Mark Rubin's status for Saturday?

Golden has been hurt but he'll be able to play Saturday as will Rubin. He's been out for about 5 weeks.

19. You've been able to play a lot of defensive linemen this year. Is that done to keep the defense fresh until the end of the season? How would you assess the play of the defensive line as a whole?

It's not done to keep them fresh until the end of the season. It's done to keep them fresh to the end of each ballgame. Last two games, that hasn't been a big problem because the defense was only out there for 50 plays or so. Against Notre Dame, they had 80 plays or so.

They have to keep the linemen healthy and get some of the young guys in there because they're good players. The coaches want to play those young guys. With Jim Shaw hurt, they may start a freshman this week. Gaines will play, but there are two freshmen behind him.

20. Talk about Andrew Quarless' progress.

Quarless is moving along. He's a big, tall kid. He needs to learn to block a little better, but Joe thinks he's going to be a pretty good player.

21. Do you remember anything about Michael Robinson's big hit last year on the Minnesota safety? Was that hit indicative of the kind of toughness he brought to the team?

Joe hasn't thought about it. He didn't realize that hit ended the safety's career. That's a real shame. Joe doesn't need to make a statement about how tough Michael Robinson was. Michael Robinson was one of the greatest players they've ever had at Penn State. He did a lot of different things. He was a running back, could catch the ball. He made some great catches at receiver, was a great quarterback and a great leader.

22. How closely did you follow the baseball games on Sunday?

Joe doesn't worry about something he can't do anything about. He got three telephone calls after it was decided that they would play this weekend. He didn't watch any of the baseball, so until those calls, he didn't know when they would play next.

All Joe had done to that point was make a plan for Minnesota and a contingency plan in case they had the week off. They're going to play Saturday.

23. Is it difficult to have to play so early in the day, especially on the road?

Joe's not sure how big of a problem it is, but it's something that concerns him, the whole trip. What time you go out, when you put them to bed, what time you get them up in the morning. Anytime you change the team's routine, it worries Joe a little bit. You wonder if you're doing things the right way. They're going to be playing in an indoor stadium which they haven't done yet this season. It's a fair observation but it's not something that can't be overcome. It's not a big, big problem. It's just something you have to adjust to.

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