FOS Audio: Paterno PC

Hear what the coach had to say about this week's big matchup with Michigan in Ann Arbor as well as his assessment of how various units and players performed against Buffalo.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno held his weekly press conference at the Beaver Stadium media room Tuesday. Hear what he had to say below.

Listen to Paterno's PC

Read a recap of the PC here:

1. After watching the tapes, assess the progress of your team going into the Big Ten.

Joe isn't sure. The team hasn't been under duress. They're still in the stage of finding out how good they are. They don't feel bad about where they are, but they have a lot of work left to do.

2. Assess Justin King's peformance against Buffalo and how he will match up aghainst Michigan's wideouts, specifically Mario Manningham?

Manningham, Arrington and Massey are really good wideouts. Justin played all right against Buffalo. He gets a little careless sometimes and doesn't finish things the way he is supposed to. But, he's a good football player and Joe expects him to play well against Michigan.

3. How do you prepare for two difrerent quarterbacks in Henne and Mallett?

You don't do that. You look at how good Michigan is overall. They have a good offensive line and Hart is a great tailback. Henne has played well against PSU and is a good quarterback, but it doesn't matter whether he plays or the other kid does. You have to prepare for what the other guy can do with the personnel they have. Michigan can do a lot because they have great players at key spots. No matter who plays quarterback, he'll have a lot of options to go to.

4. Is Austin Scott still the starting running back and is this a situation where both tailbacks will play each week?

Both tailbacks will play. Sometimes Austin gets careless with the football and Joe felt it was important to sit Austin to send a message that it doesn't matter how good you are, you have to hang onto the football. Look at Mike Hart. He's one of the best tailbacks Penn State has ever had to play against and he's only fumbled once or twice in his entire career. Scott's a good back and so is Kinlaw. Both of them will play.

5. Do you feel the key to this game is stopping Mike Hart?

Sure, if he runs for 200 yards against Penn State, it will be a tough day. However, you can't underestimate how well they throw the ball down the field. The wideouts are tough. Their offensive line makes it tough to get to the quarterback. Their offensive scheme is good. Yes, they have to stop Hart, but not at any cost because then Michigan will be able to throw down the field.

6. How do you feel how the Penn State-Michigan rivalry has developed?

Like most of the Big Ten games, they're close, competitive games. Some Penn State has won. Some they've lost. The last two times Penn State has gone to Mchigan, they've lost on the last play. That builds up the rivalry. They recruit some of the same players. Michigan has had some good Pennsylvania kids recently like Henne and Breaston. It's a good rivalry.

7. How important is Knowledge Timmons to the special teams units? Was he injured against Buffalo?

Knowledge wasn't injured against Buffalo. He's doing a good job. He's going to be a good football player. He's his own worst enemy at times because he's very emotional. As he matures, he's getting more under control and playing better. He's an emotional, enthusiastic kid. You've gotta love him. That's not meant to be derogatory. It's just an analysis of the kid. He's going to be a good player.

8. Is there something about Michigan that makes the team tighten up?

Every year is different. Playing at Michigan is fun. It's a great crowd. Joe looks at things a little differently than the media does.

9. What's the situation at right guard and will Wisniewski be a factor the rest of the season?

John Shaw's hurt and probably shouldn't have played against Notre Dame. Joe doubts he'll play much this week. Wisniewski's a good prospect. He's still a true freshman and you wish that you had someone with more experience to put in there. Michigan has a good solid defense and is difficult to run the ball against. You have to be careful not to read too much into that Oregon score. Michigan did well against their running game.

Joe hopes they don't have to use Wisniewski a lot, but right now, it looks like they will.

10. Do you buy into the idea that this is a down year for the Big Ten?

What's down and what's up? Ohio State had a great win on the West Coast. Wisconsin's a heck of a football team. Michigan had a bad start. Iowa got beat by Iowa State. Michigan State beat a Pitt team that's getting better all the time. All Joe can say is Michigan's a heck of a football team even though they're 1-2. They manhandled Notre Dame. Appalachian State was a fluke. They didn't understand how good that team is. Oregon's a great football team. Their quarterback is terrific. The media gets paid to make those perfect predictions, so Joe will leave that analysis up to them.

11. Have you been pleased with the team's focus so far this week after losing focus against Buffalo?

Joe chewed the team out last week after they didn't practice well. Buffalo is a better team than they're given credit for. They have a good quarterback and beat Temple badly. The coaches think Buffalo will win 7 or 8 games in the MAC. The players would be better to ask about where their focus is.

12. What are your thoughts about Norwood's touchdown catch and how important has he become to the offense?

He has been a big part of the offense for a long time. Joe isn't sure whether he caught the ball or not, but he thinks Norwood caught it. Norwood's a very smart football player. He's aware of a lot of things. The quarterbacks like to throw the ball to him because he finds openings in coverage and runs precise routes. He's a good wideout. If he were two inches taller and a step faster, he'd be sensational.

13. What's Tony Davis' status and what do you think of Mark Rubin's performance?

Rubin did well. He's getting comfortable there and Joe thinks he has found the right position now. He has had to learn to play faster and he's getting there. Tony Davis will be held out of most contact drills this week, but he should be able to play this weekend.

14. Have you done anything special to get the team ready for its first road game?

Not really. The older guys will handle that. Joe will talk to the team about the roiutine., Once you blow the whistle, what are you gonna do? You play. If the crowd is going to be a problem and PSU had an inexperienced quarterback, Joe might worry. But Morelli and Clark have been on the road. The only question is whether the team is good enough.

15. Do you feel better about team leadership now?

Slowly, as things have gone along, people like Golden, Connor and Lee have stepped forward. Morelli is getting there as well. The offensive line is rounding into shape. Lucian did a good job in Shaw's place. They're starting to feel good about where they are, but they won't know for sure until the team is in a tough game. They have been improving and improving and they are on the verge of being a pretty good football team.

16. Is it tough to get a good read on Michigan?

No, it's not tough. If they make the field goal against Appalachian State, they win that game. Oregon did some great things against Michigan. Their quarterback did some really good things. Then Oregon beat Fresno State big. Fresno had gone into triple overtime with Texas A&M, who is now 3-0, the previous week. Michigan's a good football team.

Joe looked at all three game tapes. They're a tough football team. They have one of the best punters in college football. They have guys that make big plays when they need them. Penn State is going to play a heck of a football team.

17. Status of Eliades and Koroma?

Koroma is still not practicing. Eliades practiced last week and could have played last week.

18. Has Rodney Kinlaw improved his patience as a runner?

Kinlaw is getting better. He and Scott are both becoming better tailbacks.

19. Is Morelli in the stage of his career where you can win a game where he has to throw a lot for a lot of yardage?

Yes, Morelli's been a good quarterback. The only time he has gotten into trouble is when pass protection has broken down. Joe's not worried about Morelli. He's the least of Joe's worries.

20. Talk about the challenge Michigan has become for Penn State.

Joe doesn't look at it like that. They've lost some really close games to Michigan. There are times things just don't go your way for a while. If you have patience...If you don't panic and try a lot of different things and listen to the media and accomodate critics, then you'll get back to where you want to be. There have been games that Penn State has played well and if they had gotten a break here or there, they could have won those games.

21. What was Bo Schembechler's legacy?

Joe never coached against Bo. Bo had a problem with the way Penn State was voted into the Big Ten. Only the university presidents had a vote. THe athletic directors and coaches had no say. Bo didn't like that and it caused a shouting match between he and Joe at one point. But Joe really liked Bo. You always knew where you stood with him. He and Woody Hayes dominated the Big Ten for a long time. Now there are some great young coaches in the league. The league has a little different personality now than when Bo and Woody were running the show.

22. How much of a challenge has it become to make sure everyone stays involved in the passing game?

If you're going to have a good football team, you can't plan to give someone 5-6 catches a game. You take what the defense gives you and throw the ball to the open receivers. They're out there to win the game, so the wideouts have to block their butts off and then take advantage of any balls that are thrown their way.

Chris Bell is a great young receiver and didn't catch a pass last week. It just turned out that Norwood got a couple, Butler got a couple. Golden only caught one pass but it was a touchdown. You can't decide beforehand who is going to get the ball. You just have to be ready to make a contribution in every area of the game.

23. Is there any plan to take advantage of Michigan's problems defending mobile quarterbacks with Clark?

No. They had problems with Oregon's quarterback specifically because he's a heck of a player. Penn State is going to go out there, play their game and see what happens. Joe is sure Lloyd Carr is preparing the same way.


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