I don't know if anybody will be running the team. We are anticipating Coach to be there for Saturday. If that needs to be talked about, we will probably talk about that on Friday. Right now, we are assuming he will be at the game. We will huddle up and figure it out from there.
Galen, how has Joe's absence from the offices and the practice field, affected game preparations, if any?
It really hasn't affected it. About the only thing is that he is not at the practice field. That is a big change. He gives us a practice schedule and we talk about it. We run our game plans past him. He is very much involved in everything we do, except he is just not out there on the practice field.
Tom, the logistics, according to what the doctor told us, are up in the air. Are there any limitations if he is not in a coaching booth whether he can be in contact through a headset with people?
If he is in the booth, he can be in contact with the coaches. He couldn't on Saturday because he was in the lockerroom and the referee, Dave Witvoet, came over and informed me that we were not allowed to do that. I said, "Dave, we didn't practice that rule this week, but we will get on it next week." He can be on the headset. He is just up in the booth; a lot like Barry Alvarez was a few years ago (1999), when Barry was hurt. Barry was up in the box.
Both the offense and defense have gone out of their way to not point fingers at each other this year with the offense struggling. Tom, is there a case where it is only human nature to be a little frustrated when you almost feel like you have to kind of pitch a shutout during this rough stretch?
No, I don't think so. The first thing I tell them is, "If you do shut them out, you win the game." The second thing is, from a defensive perspective, we look at the mirror and not out the window. We are looking at ourselves. I tell them the first day of practice, "If you are going to point fingers at anybody, anytime you are pointing the finger, that thumb is coming right back at you." They know that saying. We have to worry about what we have to do. There are plays that we screwed up that we could do a lot better. There are calls that I screwed up and I can do a lot better. We have a lot of room for improvement, so we are just going to tend to our knitting as Coach always says, and keep working harder.
Galen, it seems like some of your guys, Derrick Williams, in particular, seems like he is pressing a little bit. Do you sense that and what can you do to kind of help those guys through that?
There was one stage where I think Derrick might have been pressing. He has had about the best one and half weeks of practice these past two weeks that he has had, maybe since he has been here. He caught the ball well out there last week. I think we are just going through a period where everyone is looking and lacking a little confidence. We just have to try to get the confidence back in them and keep trying to move forward.
Galen, could you assess the overall development of Anthony Morelli and his receivers and the way they are working together?
I think Anthony has probably played pretty well for us given the circumstances. I think everyone is saying, "Why aren't we throwing the ball more to the receivers? Why aren't they making the big plays?" You really have to look at the coverages we have been getting. We have been getting, in three of the four games, a lot of people laying off and not giving us the deep pass. The one thing we are not getting this year is the deep pass because of secondary coverages. We have to try to implement and work underneath and work that type of passing game. Some we have been successful in and some of them we haven't. Another key thing is that we have to run the football. We have not run the football in the games that we have struggled and we have to come back and make a concentrated effort to run the football.
Galen, mentioning running the football, what can you do to try to make that more effective here in the last couple of games?
One of the things is that maybe it is up to me to go and get out there and try to hammer the football at them. We try to be balanced. I think that is the one thing and we got a little bit off of it in the games that we haven't been. We have to try to stay after people and try to run the football on them.
Obviously, there has been a lot of distractions this week and there were some frustrations after last week's loss. Given those situations, is it difficult to get the team up and ready for a game like Temple?
(Galen) I don't think it will be difficult. There are distractions. Again, Joe is very much involved in everything we do. We go out and coach the same we have, whether Joe is on the field or not. I think our players are looking forward to it. On our side of the football, we are frustrated and looking that we are not happy with the way that we are performing all the time and we are looking forward to going out and playing and proving that we are a fairly good offensive football team.
You have been talking about Joe being in touch with the coaches via speakerphones. Do you guys feel a little bit like "Charlie's Angels?"
(Tom) We, obviously, don't look like Charlie's Angels. We are OK with when we get the calls. Some of us aren't always on speakerphone with the messages we get. I don't think he wants to leave them on the speakerphone.
One thing about Al is that he is a former Penn State player. He will always be a Penn Stater with us. Al went down and had a chance to be a coordinator and decided that was the best thing for him to do and it was a chance for him, he felt, to better himself. In this profession, anytime that happens, that is a good thing. There are no hard feelings at all. I still talk with Al about a lot of different things periodically. He is now a head coach, and you don't talk as much with the head coaches because they are a little higher up. He is doing a great job and he is a good friend of mine.
Galen, what is John Shaw's status with that knee? Is it a different dynamic this year with Anthony, who is a little bit of a pocket guy where last year you had Michael and they couldn't afford to do that because he would take off?
John Shaw will miss this week and probably next week as I understand. Hopefully, we can John back after that. John will be out the rest of the season. Last year, we were really in a one back set with two backs when Michael was back there and always gave us that dimension at any time and we don't have that this year, so we are just a one back running game rather than like last year where we were two back. That is a very good assessment of where we are, but we have to be good enough to overcome that and we are working on it.
Tom, how much has Paul Posluszny improved throughout the year in his new position?
Once he figured out the different traffic patterns in there, which is a big adjustment. I know he played some inside last year, but it was mostly a nickel situation, passing situations. This year he is in there all the time. He is taking on big guys and guys blocking from all different ways. He has progressed and you can see him get better and better. I thought last week was his best game. That is where he looked the most comfortable to me. I am going to be excited to watch him play on Saturday.
Tom and Galen, Coach Paterno is your boss and colleague, but I am guessing he is also a friend. If you had a friend get injured like this, would you tell him to just take it easy and not try to come back (too quickly)?
That is the part I am kind of curious about this rehab part. I can't see him rehabbing, but on the good side, I figure our trainers, George Salvaterra…if the Coach is going to rehab in the lockerroom, we won't have any players in there. No one will be hurt anymore. No one else will be rehabbing because they won't want to be there with him. In that sense, we probably won't have anybody hurt anymore. I don't know how to answer that. I think you guys know Joe and patience hasn't ever been one of his virtues. When I talked to him on Monday, he said, "You know, I can't put any weight on this leg yet." It is probably your fault, Wayne.
Can you both describe Coach Paterno's level of frustration and how that has manifested itself this week?
I think he wants to be here. He is very frustrated, I am sure. This is probably the first time that Joe has ever been down for any period of time, if any time. I am sure it is frustrating to him. He is not taking it out on us, though. We are talking about game plans and practice schedules the way we always have. I am sure he is tied up and can't get out and wants to break out and it is going to be awhile.
Galen, has anybody from the staff seen him?
Yes…I have not.
Galen, does this mean he is going to wear a headset in order to communicate during the game?
Yes, he will. He might even be right behind us. We are trying to work that out. (Tom) I hope that toggle switch is broken so he can't go back and forth…
Galen, would it affect any other offensive coach or coaches going down to the field?
We really haven't talked about that yet. I am sure Joe has a plan. Whenever he feels it is the time to tell us what it is, he will.
Galen, you have been around a lot of really good running backs during your coaching career. How good is Tony Hunt and what type of future do you think he has beyond Penn State?
I think Tony is one of the best all-around running backs I have been around. He is probably the best pass protecting back that I have been around. I think that comes from being a Penn State back. You look at the backs in the past and the way we teach here and everything. Pass protection is very important to us, as it is in the pros. I think he is a very good, hard-nosed back that can catch the football out of the backfield to make people miss and I think he has a bright future in the pros. Where and when he goes, I would just be speculating if I said anything about that. He is in the top notch of running backs that I have been around.
Tom, can you talk about Paul Posluszny and what he has meant to the program?
As I have said a number of times, I don't know if I have ever been around a person like him the way he practices, carries on his lifestyle, the way he is respected by his teammates, the way that people from Aliquippa and Hopewell look up to him. I knew I had someone special when I am standing in an airport and a guy comes up with his two little kids and we are talking and the guy says, "We are Paul Posluszny fans." I said, "Oh, they are football players." He said, "I don't worry about how he plays football, I want them to grow up to be the type of person he is." Anybody that knows him good is his enemy, he wants to be great. It is not just football. It is everything he does, whether he works out. I know Dr. Sebastianelli will tell you that the hardest thing probably last year was getting him to slow down a little bit. He pushes himself to the fullest. In the classroom, he tries to be the best possible student. Everything he does, he does the best he can possibly do. He makes my life easy, because when the guy who is the heart and soul of your defense comes to practice every day and you could look at the tapes and you wouldn't be able to tell practice No. 1 or practice 68, the way he comes out every day the same way and practices, goes about his business. On this football team, for you to be elected as a captain as a true junior and you talk about the last guys to do that were two guys named (Mike) Reid and (Steve) Smear, you are in some pretty elite company. To pass a guy like Greg Buttle, who I played with, and Greg Buttle was one heck of a football player, and that is a real honor for Paul and it couldn't happen to a more deserving person.
Tom, how will Joe's injury impact what you guys do from a recruiting standpoint? He, obviously, had done a lot of traveling in the past in terms of going to see kids and that kind of thing.
I don't know the time schedule for his recovery and all of the different things that are going to go into that. He never really went out in December anyway. Coach has always said, "I am going to coach this team, and then when this team is finished, I will start recruiting next year's team." Joe never went out. Even when we tried to get him out in December, he wouldn't go. We felt like if he would get out early, we could spread these guys out now. We can spread them out. He usually doesn't go out anyway. You have the bowl season and then you have the convention, which is a dead period. So you are looking at the last three weeks. It would probably be about the second week in January when he would really start to go on the road anyway. It won't affect that at all.
Tom, you know a lot of those guys that are coaching at Temple right now. How much respect do you have for them to take on the challenge to try and rebuild Temple and what type of job do you think they are doing?
Those guys are all pretty darn good coaches. I have been around them and worked with Al and know what kind of football coach he is. Jeff Nixon, (Matt) Rhule and those guys we have worked with and been with them. They are Penn State guys and you know their work ethic and their drive to succeed. They have been here. They know what it takes and have watched what Coach Paterno has done here and how certain things are implemented. They have all worked for some pretty good guys and they know what it takes to win and they will get it done.
Tom, what is Jay Alford's status?
Jay was day-to-day, but I think he should be ready to go. He has taken his shots and Larry is making sure he is 100 percent. He has been putting him in and out, but he should be all set to go.