Paterno's PC Recap

Joe Paterno held his weekly press conference today, discussing the state of the team, injuries and his thoughts on the upcoming opponent Illinois. See what Penn State football's head coach had to say.

1. Was last year's game at Illinois about as perfect a game as one of your teams has played?

If you look back at that, the score was inflated because the Lions got some points early and Illinois was young. PSU didn't run the ball well. Hunt got 30 yards, Scott got about 40 yards. They defended the run well. The game was not as bad it looked on the scoreboard.

The young quarterback has given them a shot in the arm. He can run, he brings enthusiasm, he has the offense believing in him.

2. Do you think Illinois will want revenge for last year's game and get a psychological boost from that?

Joe has a tough enough time figuring out his own team let alone the other team. Illinois is a young team that beat a good Michigan State team and was right there against Indiana.

Illinois shouldn't be looking at last year. They should be thinking about what they can do this year. Joe is worried about this game. He's not concerned about whether his team will bounce back from the loss. He is wondering whether they will be good enough in certain areas.

3. What did you think about the hit on Morelli? How did Paul Cianciolo play on Saturday?

Paul hasn't had many reps. There isn't enough time to get three quarterbacks a lot of reps in practice during the week. For someone who hasn't gotten a lot of reps, he did well.

As for the hit on Morelli, football's a tough game. You're gonna get hit hard.

4. Would you go with Paul Cianciolo or Kevin Suhey if Morelli and Clark can't go?

Paul has been around the offense, so he would be the guy that will play. Suhey has been working with the scout team, so they have to expose him to the Penn State offense and get him ready to play if he's needed. Kevin has some talent.

5. What does the offensive line have to do better?

They have to do a little better job in pass protection against some blitzes. They have to get a little more strength on the OL and hold onto their blocks longer. Last week, the line wasn't able to handle Michigan and their big, strong defensive line.

Illinois doesn't have little kids either. They're a good line.

6. Are Morelli and Clark hurt about the same? Is one hurt less than the other?

Joe doesn't know. Joe wants the doctors to tell him what the chances are of them playing. The doctors told him that the quarterbacks can both go out and throw today and see how it goes. It's a day to day thing.

One's got a concussion. The other has a neck problem. They'll see how things go this week. The doctors will do the best they can to get the kids ready to play. If they can't go, then they have to get one of the freshmen ready just in case. Just because they had two quarterbacks injured last week doesn't mean they can't have two quarterbacks get hurt this week. They would probably get Devlin ready and hope they don't have to use him.

7. Did you flash back to the Wisconsin game from a couple of years ago when Morelli and Clark went down?

Joe doesn't have time to think about that stuff. This team is in better shape than that one was at the quarterback position.

8. Can you talk about the sense of family in this program and what it's like to coach fathers and sons from the same family?

They had over 150 former lettermen come back last weekend and Joe got a kick out of seeing some people he hadn't seen in a long time, including fathers and sons.

9. Why haven't you gotten the big play as often this year as you did last year?

Because the other guy is pretty good. Ohio State went down to Texas against a great offensive football team and held them to 7 points. Michigan leads the country in rush defense. You can't move the ball on them very easily. PSU turned it over 5 times at Notre Dame.

Those three teams are just very good.

10. How did Morelli do on Saturday?

He did well. He didn't have much time to find open receivers with the way Michigan was getting into the backfield, and under those circumstances, he made some good throws.

11. How much do you have to scale back the offense with the QB situation?

Joe isn't sure how much Paul and Kevin can handle, but he doesn't want to scale things back too much. Both kids had a good practice yesterday. They threw the ball well.

Maybe on Thursday the coaches will have to sit down and discuss if there's anything they need to take out of the offensive gameplan.

12. How concerned are you about their running quarterback?

Joe is concerned about it. He's a fine runner, a big, strong kid. The defense has to go out there and play. They have to get off blocks, be disciplined against the options, stay in their blitz lanes. Illinois does some things with their dropback passing game that are tough to defend.

13. Do you have a hard and fast rule about how much a quarterback has to practice in order to play on Saturday?

Joe doesn't like to have hard and fast rules like that. He can't afford to do that this week. Morelli and Clark are going to throw the ball today. They didn't practice yesterday because the doctors wanted to make sure they didn't have any after effects.

If Morelli is ready to play on Saturday and Joe doesn't play him because he didn't practice on Wednesday, that's not fair to the football team.

14. How do you feel your team played Saturday and are they progressing the way you expected them to?

The Lions played a good, tough football game on Saturday against a very tough opponent. They have gotten better as the season has gone along and are a good football team, not a great one.

There are a couple of areas where they have not improved as much as Joe would like, such as the field goal kicking unit, but when those areas do come around, the team will be even better.

15. Talk about Anthony Scirrotto's development.

Scirrotto's a good athlete. He runs well and tackles well. Overall, the thing that is the difference on defense between last year and this year is that this year's defense is one step slower in terms of anticipation. They wait one step to make sure that they know what they're seeing.

Scirrotto is one of the kids doing that, but he's only a true sophomore. He's playing well.


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