1. What are your impressions of Jimmy Clausen?
It's hard to say what his impressions of Clausen are. They know he was a heck of a high school player. He had some injury issues. All three kids that played QB for Notre Dame did well, but they didn't have enough opportunities to make things happen because Georgia Tech played a heck of a football game. It was a tough game. It would have been tough for anyone to beat Georgia Tech. Notre Dame hung tough though. They stayed in the game when a lesser team would have been out of it early.
Notre Dame has three good quarterbacks. If Charlie Weis thinks the young kid is the best one, then that's who Penn State will have to play against.
2. How different is this Notre Dame team from the one you saw last season in Week 2?
They're unsettled at quarterback now of course. Once they settle on a quarterback, they'll start to get better. They're very comparable athletically to the teams they have played in the past, especially last year. Joe thinks it's a good, solid team that is very comparable to the team Penn State faced in South Bend a year ago.
3. How much has Anthony Morelli grown up since the Notre Dame game last year?
In all fairness to Anthony, the team stunk out the joint at Notre Dame last year. The coaching wasn't very good, and by that Joe means he did a lousy job. Morelli is a much better quarterbck now than he was a year ago. That was a tough job he had last year to take a football team that was still shaky about somet things out there. Morelli has more confidence now. The wideouts are better. The team is better overall.
The thing people don't realize is how good Notre Dame is. Georgia Tech played such a good game last week that people are not giving Notre Dame enough credit.
4. After looking at the film, how pleased were you with the defensive effort?
They were solid. Florida International killed themselves with turnovers and penalties. Then they got behind and probably had to do some things they didn't want to do. Joe is reluctant to talk about how well the defense played. Overall, the team hustled. They lined up properly. The offense had a few problems early with their stunts but overall it was about as good a team performance as you can expect in the first game.
5. How much better is Sean Lee now than he was last year?
Lee was a good linebacker last year. Joe can't say how much better he is now. All Joe knows is that Connor and Lee give Penn State two great linebackers. He's fast, tough and makes plays. Connor and Lee are great to have around, especially considering the youth of the defensive line.
6. Assess the performance of the running backs.
Scott and Kinlaw did a good job. Early in the game, they didn't have much of a chance because they were throwing a lot. When the offense settled down, both Scott and Kinlaw did a good job, as did Royster. They're going to get better,. They all did a good job in pass protection. They were in the game. Florida International is a little quicker and better athletically than they indicated on Saturday. They got themselves in a situation where they had to do a lot of things to try and turn the tide. They have some pretty good athletes.
7. What kind of maturtion have you seen from Chris Bell?
Is he closer to making an impact on the field?
Until the team gets into a situation where they have to do some things under duress, Joe can't answer that question. Can Chris Bell be a great receiver?
He can be. He needs to be more consistent. In fairness to him, he's really practiced well the past week. He pouted a little when he realized he wasn't going to play as much as he wanted to, but he played 25-30 plays on Saturday and did well.
The players are babes in the woods. They're going to find out how good they are this week when a good, tough Notre Dame football team comes in with their ears pinned back and their great traditioin.
8. How do you keep the players from getting too emotional about this game?
Joe has no idea what the players are thinking. If they're dumb enough that they think they don't have to get better than last week and they don't understand that Georgia Tech played a great game, the team won't be very good anyway. Joe doesn't think it will be a problem for the team to realize they have to be ready. It's Notre Dame for crying out loud. They won't come here with their tail between their legs. They've got pride, tradition and talent. Whether the players are mature enough to understand this, we'll see.
9. Is it a concern that things came so easily last week and the players haven't been challenged prior to a big game?
There's always a concern. That's why you play. Sure, Joe's concerned about it., Joe wants to see if the team can live with a win where everythig went their way. Now they have to see if they can play well against a team that had nothing go their way but are much better than they showed.
10. Are you pleased with the way Hayes and Davis played at new positions?
Joe doesn't know. He thinks Tony Davis did a good job at strong safety. Penn State wasn't in a position where someone had to make a play in the clutch. Joe doesn't know where his team is now. They'll find out this Saturday.
11. Are you surprised that Charlie Weis is starting a true freshman at quarterback and have you ever started a freshman at quarterback?
Tony Sacca started when at Notre Dame when he was a true freshman. For Joe to say what's best for Notre Dame at this time when they're being coached by someone who has had so much success at the pro and college levels, Joe can't. If they have decided to go with a freshman, they know what they're doing. The freshman has to go there and get a job done. It's a challenge sure. Anytime you put a freshman in a situation where they're on the road and on tv, it's a challenge. All Joe is worrying about is whether his team will be prepared to face such a good team.
12. Do you know where Appalachian State is located and anything about the program?
Joe knows it's in Boone, NC. He did basic training at Fort Bragg in 1945. They're a heck of a football program. They won back-to-back national championships at their level and Jerry Moore is a great football coach.
Is it good for the Big Ten?
No. Michigan is a lot better than that. What it does show is that there are a lot of good athletes out there who don't get to go to Michigan or Penn State and they made the most of their opportunity. Now, the media people are calling it the greatest upset of all time. Joe always thought that when the Devil was sent below, that was the greatest upset, but they didn't have newspaper people back then.
13. How does the Michigan upset impact the Big Ten's image?
Joe doesn't know. Wisconsin beat a good Washington State team. That's up to the media people. Joe doesn't think about it.
14. Talk about the 1982 team and what you remember about them. They are coming back for a reunion this week.
Joe remembers they were a heck of a football team. They were pretty good in 1981, won the Fiesta Bowl that year after only losing one game to Miami. Blackledge was a heck of a football player and a great leader. Curt Warner was a heck of a football player. It was one of the best teams Penn State has ever had.
15. Talk about insulating your team from the Notre Dame hype and your feelings about the series betwween the teams.
It's been a good series. It's been good for both teams. Joe hopes that Notre Dame has as much respect for Penn State as Penn State does for Notre Dame. Joe got to know Father Joyce very well and thinks he is one of the greatest people he has ever met.
It's unfortunate that the teams won't play more often. Joe was disappointed when Notre Dame turned down an offer to join the Big Ten. Joe likes playing Notre Dame. It's fun. They'll come here with a good football team and lots of fans. Joe hopes Penn State fans will welcome Notre Dame here and not bother their fans with a lot of nonsense.
Joe's glad that the students are so excited about the game. He's looking forward to it as well.
16. Do you ever miss being an independent?
That's tough. Is being a non-independent the best thing for Penn State?
Yes. Is it the best thing for Penn State football?
Joe doesn't know. Getting into the Big Ten was really a great thing for the university. It's been a great thing for the varsity sports programs and the academic side of the university. When you look back on everything, it was probably the right move for the football program. For the whole university, it was a good move.
17. Has Lydell Sargeant solidified himself as a starter and how intense is the competition between him and AJ Wallace?
Sargeant played a solid game Saturday. Not a great game, but solid. He's also learning two positions because he's the nickelback when Penn State goes to the nickel and Wallace plays corner in those sets.
18. Last year, you said that Notre Dame had outcoached you. Was that calls during the game or the whole game preparation?
Probably the whole bit. Penn State never took anything away from them last year. They didn't take advantage of anything either. Mentally, the team wasn't quite ready for it. Joe takes the blame. There were some kids who had not had much experience and they weren't ready for some things. Joe put them in a tough spot.
19. Have you gained an appreciation for night games?
Joe likes the night games until he goes to bed and realizes that he has to get up early the next day. Joe was very pleased with the crowd against Florida International. He can't remember a noon kickoff where the students were so into the game. He knows that everyone will be excited for this night game and he's glad there's so much interest.
20. Is the plan to redshirt the entire freshman class?
The decisions haven't been made yet. They have a lot of redshirt freshman and sophomores who just got their first action on Saturday like Bowman, Gbadyu and Maybin that got backed up behind other kids last year. The coaches are going to worry about preparing for Notre Dame now. If some freshman start showing that they're better than some of the kids playing, then they'll play.
The preseason practice schedule made it tough to challen ge the kids. They only had 5 two-a-day sessions because the players were in summer school. There's a couple of kids that are really good football players that might pop into the picture very quickly.
21. Is there a chance that Quarless will play this weekend?
Joe doubts it.
22. Do you anticipate competition between Shuler and Quarless when he is allowed to reutrn?
When they decide that Quarless can be part of the competiition, he'll have to beat out Shuler and Jordan Lyons. Lyons and Shuler both played better than the coaches expected them to play. Quarless won't get his starting spot back without fighting for it. That game ought to be a confidence builder for Shuler. The coaches will learn a lot more about the football team in the next couple of weeks.