Paterno PC Audio File & Recap

Get the lowdown on what the Nittany Lion coach had to say about this week's game with Michigan during his weekly Tuesday press conference. Paterno talked about the challenges the Wolverines present, even without Mario Manningham, and much more.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno met the media Tuesday to talk about this weekend's game against rival Michigan. Listen to what he had to day in our complete audio file.

Hear Joe Paterno Here.

Get a recap of Paterno's press conference below:

1. Why has Michigan's run defense been so effective this year?

They have some kids that can play really well. They're well coached. They have kids that can run. They have a good blitz scheme. Branch is really starting to dominate up front. The defensive end and two linebackers are really good as well. They're obviously one of the better defensive teams that Penn State plays.

2. Why did your pass defense struggle so much against Minnesota? Was it scheme or execution?

There was one kid who got careless and wasn't where he was supposed to be on a play against the tight end. They didn't play as well as Joe had hoped they would in the passing game. Minnesota has a good pass offense though. They have a good quarterback, a couple of really good wide receivers and the tight end. You have to give some credit to Minnesota as well.

3. Where does last year's loss to Michigan rank among your most disappointing losses?

It wasn't that it was Michigan. It was the fact that the team could have been undefeated and playing for the national championship that made it disappointing. It would have been just as disappointing no matter who the loss had come to. After Penn State beat Northwestern last year and started to gain confidence and play better, the team thought it was good enough to play for the #1 ranking, so that loss did hurt.

4. Does it get frustrating when you have one team that you keep playing and can't get over the hump against?

Joe doesn't know what the reporter is talking about. Michigan is a good football team. They're always a tough opponent. Penn State had to play them two years in a row on the road because of the break in the series, but no matter where they play, it's always a tough game.

The same goes for Penn State when they play Minnesota. Minnesota played so hard and so well against Penn State but couldn't catch a break. They hit the upright on that extra point which would be good 9 times out of 10. Penn State got the pass interference call which Joe said was a good call, but Minnesota would probably argue that. Penn State has been on the other side of the coin with Michigan a couple of times with some calls.

5. Is your patience running thin with the kicking problems?

Joe doesn't have the luxury of losing his patience, except with the media. The team is working at it. There are some things they can do better and they're working on those things. Patience is not the word Joe would use. Determination is more like it.

6. What is the status of Levi Brown and Robert Price? How did the offensive line play in their absence?

Both will be fine this week. They could have played last week but neither player would have been 100% and Joe didn't think it would have been fair to either player.

As for the offensive line, they played well overall. Joe keeps saying some guys haven't played much but you can only say that so much. This isn't an inexperienced, young football team anymore. They've played 6 tough football games, and now it's time to grow up. If the offensive line makes a lot of mistakes against Michigan, they will end up with negative yards because the Wolverine defense is that good.

7. What are your feelings on Jared Odrick and Maurice Evans? What is Jim Shaw's status?

Jim Shaw will play this week. He practiced yesterday and will be able to go.

Odrick and Evans are young, but they're learning. They're not in the same spot as some of the offensive linemen because they only play a few plays here and there. They're both good prospects and they play hard. They're gonna get pretty good some day.

8. Did you watch the Michigan-Notre Dame tape? Why did they play so much better against Notre Dame than your team did?

Five turnovers. Notre Dame had five turnovers and Michigan didn't have any. Joe told some people the night before that game that he felt Michigan would beat Notre Dame because their defense is among the best in the country and he was proven right.

9. With Manningham not playing, what does that do to Michigan's offense?

Joe didn't know Manningham was not going to play until Jeff Nelson told him right before the press conference. That's a shame. You'd like everyone to be healthy for a game like this.

Michigan is one of the best two or three teams in the country and Manningham is a big part of that. Certainly, it's a loss for them but they have a really good offense and they're going to be tough with or without Manningham.

10. Does the way the team lost at Michigan last year provide extra motivation or is that overblown?

That's completely overblown. They have to play this year's Michigan team not last year's. This Michigan team is much better than last year's because they're older and stronger. Henne has become a heck of a quarterback although he played really well against Penn State last year. The team doesn't have time to look back. This team is at the point in its development where they need to see whether they can stand toe to toe with a team as good as Michigan.

11. What have you done in practice to correct the red zone problems?

They've only practiced one day this week. The coaches continue to sit down and analyze every aspect of what's happening n the red zone. Joe thinks the playcalling has been pretty good down there, but the execution has not. The coaches tell the players in practice that they can't afford mistakes down there. They'll keep working on it in practice this week.

12. How did the atmosphere against Ohio State last year contribute to that game?

The atmosphere made the day special. Joe hopes that the crowd this Saturday night will be as good as that game last year against Ohio State. Joe feels that games like that one are the reason he's still in coaching. He felt the same way about playing at Ohio State this year. Their crowd was terrific, all dressed in red. You could feel something special about that game.

This Saturday should be a very exciting, special night. The crowd won't win the game for Penn State though. The team has to win the game. Michigan won't be intimidated by any crowd. They're a good, solid football team. The crowd will have fun. It will be great to see all the white and everything, but the crowd won't be able to win the game.

13. How important was it to get your first road win of the season at Minnesota?

It's not important. This team has won 17 of its last 20 games. The three losses came against two of the top 5 teams in the country and a loss in a great game at Michigan last year. This team has won big games on the road. That road win wasn't needed to prove anything to anybody.

14. Has Chad Henne become the type of quarterback you expected him to be when you recruited him out of high school?

Penn State recruited Henne and he committed to the Lions verbally. He changed his mind, which he was certainly entitled to do. He was a heck of a high school quarterback and he's become a very good college quarterback. Henne got some criticism last year, but Joe thinks that was unfounded. He's an intelligent kid and an excellent athlete. He's the type of quarterback that can carry a team to wins.

15. How has Anthony Scirrotto progressed this season?

Scirrotto's a good football player but he doesn't play as fast as he can play because he's not sure of himself yet. Once you get some more experience, you start to see things better and you get faster. Look at Donnie Johnson this year compared to last year or the year before. He's a much better player now because he has confidence in what he's doing.

Scirrotto has that confidence now but he's nowhere near as good as he's going to be.

16. What's your perception of Michigan? Did you try to play them in the 60s and 70s?

For one reason or another, Penn State never played Michigan before joining the Big Ten. They played Notre Dame for about 10 years and that was their Midwestern game and they were also playing Illinois for a while.

Joe has always had great respect for Michigan. In fact, Joe was offered the head coaching job there before Bo Schembechler got it. Michigan might have been the only college coaching job he would have taken other than Penn State. They have a rich tradition and they are a team that Joe always liked to watch.

17. What are your impressions of Mike Hart?

He's a kid from Syracuse. The coaches may have blown that one because they didn't recruit him. He seems to be ideal for their offense. He sees things and the minute he sees an opening, he accelerates through it. You have to tackle him. He's a fast, tough kid. Their running game is one of the best in the country and Hart is a major reason for that. That and their offensive line. Their line is terrific with four seniors all over 300 pounds.

18. How tough is Tony Hunt and do you have to watch how much practice reps you give him because of the punishment he takes?

They do have to be careful with him in practice. He is such a tough runner and he didn't get a nickel outside against Minnesota. Everything was between the tackles and he carried the ball 30 times. The point is well taken.

19. What led to the shoving match between Levi Brown and BranDon Snow?

You've got a frustrated senior, a good football player, and a great kid in BranDon Snow. He says something to someone and the situation got emotional. Levi Brown did exactly what he should have done. He told Snow to knock it off. When that happens and you're emotionally charged, you get upset about it.

Joe's glad it worked out the way it did because Levi Brown asserted himself as a captain of the football team. Joe doesn't know why it happened, but it may be a good thing for the team.

20. Can you share your thoughts on Paternoville?

Joe wishes he had an agent that could get something out of that for him (laughs). Joe knows the students are upset because they want to get out there right away. It's a great thing for a kid to become that involved in something on campus.

No one ever called Joe for his opinion on the regulations and he didn't call anybody to give his opinion. His only reaction would be is that he hopes we don't get to the point when there is an activity that creates a lot of enthusiasm that people are only thinking about the consequences. Of course there will be consequences. Joe doesn't know much about why the regulations were made, but he's sure the administration had good reasons for doing it.

Don't forget that these kids are only in college once. It's the greatest experience of your life. Let's be careful that we don't take away one of the things they will remember for the rest of their lives.

21. What are your thoughts on Levi Brown as a captain?

Levi was never an outgoing guy. When he was elected captain, he was a little bit overwhelmed. He went to Joe and asked what he needed to do to become a good captain. Joe told him to be himself and that would be enough. There are all kinds of captains. You don't have to yell at people to be a good captain. Joe told Levi he would recognize the situations when he needed to step in as a captain.

He's been an excellent captain.


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