SCOTT COLE'S QUICKCAP
1. Are you satisfied with the performance of the offense to this point?
You'd like to have about 6 more points Saturday. Overall, the offense is about where Joe thought they would be. Maybe they could be more careful with the football. Sure, you always want to be better, but he's satisfied. The offense will get better. Considering some of the injuries they've had on the offensive line, they've done well.
2. What were your impressions of Morelli's performance on Saturday and does he need to perform better against Illinois to keep his job?
Joe thinks he did well enough. The one big mistake he made was fumbling the ball. Overall, he did well enough. At the end when they were trying to get the ball upfield, he was running for his life.
3. Have you made a decision on Austin Scott's status as a starter?
Scott's been very conscientious about trying to overcome his fumbling problems. Joe is hesitant to give up on him. He's worked hard and Joe thinks he's earned every chance to get over this problem.
4. Why was Anthony Morelli excused from his weekly teleconference this week?
It was not Joe's call but if someone asked him, he would have asked why the media needed to talk with him. He doesn't need to be on a teleconference each week. Let him concentrate on his books and the big game coming up against Illinois.
5. How did the team practice yesterday?
Joe only saw about 35 minutes of practice because he arrived late after attending his mother-in-law's funeral. Joe will meet with the team before they practice this afternoon and will have a better feel for how they are handling things.
6. Are there specific drills to work on in practice to alleviate the fumbling issues?
Sure, there are fundamentals drills done all the time in practice at each position. Quarterbacks practice footwork. Running backs practice footwork and ball security. Yes, they practice those things.
7. Do you get any sense of how the leaders have stepped up?
It has to start with Joe first. He was very fond of his mother-in-law and the weekend was very emotional as a result. It will come from how Joe responds to things as well as the assistant coaches. When you lose a game like that, you only have one person to blame and that's the head coach. Some people like to blame this assistant coach or that assistant coach and you have to realize that nothing goes on without Joe's approval. Joe has to get across to the team that he will get better, the staff will get better and the players will get better as the season goes along.
8. How do you react to fan claims that Penn State should not have joined the Big Ten in the first place?
Joe can't respond to that. They're in the Big Ten and it's a good conference academically and athletically. They just have to compete. They have competed but just have not dominated like some people would want.
9. Does it send the wrong message if the coaching staff benches a player after one or two bad games?
It's difficult for Joe to give an honest answer for such a specific question. Every situation is different. You can't overreact. You've got to think it through. Joe has to make sure everyone involved has an opportunity to be part of a decision like that. You have to be patient, but you can have too much patience with a player. Whether it's relevant in this case, Joe doesn't know. He thinks Austin Scott deserves an opportunity. He has to make sure the staff does what's best for the youngster and the team.
10. The 2005 team was in a similar position to this. Do you plan to talk to the team about how the 2005 team handled their situation?
You have to be careful there. This is the 2007 team. The 2005 team had different personnel. Joe will point out that the season is not over. There are still 8 games left and they can still have a fine season. It all starts with him. He has to do a better job and things will go from there.
11. What kind of problems do Illinois provide for your defense since you haven't seen the option yet?
They have a very talented offense. They have two quarterbacks who can run and throw as well as good tailbacks and wideouts. There will have to be some adjustments made to handle the option and play it as well as they can without getting too far away from their basic defensive structure.
12. Are you disappointed that you didn't throw the ball more at Michigan?
They threw the ball about 50% of the time. They threw it about 30 times. The problem was that their field position was so terrible that you have to be careful. They started drives at their 20 or inside it a bunch of times. They couldn't get the ball back from Michigan. The defense had Michigan at the 3-yard line and let them get out of there.
There isn't much Joe would do differently. He isn't going to second-guess himself on the game plan. Both teams did a great job kicking the ball;. It really was a well played game. Give the other guy credit. Michigan played well, played smart. Penn State couldn't make anything happen and when they did have chances, they blew them. Joe isn't sure it's necessary to make changes.
13. Is there anything about the offensive line that isn't developing the way you want it to?
They're getting better. Obviously, there are some kids playing that the staff didn't plan on playing. They lost 3 or 4 kids that they felt would be first-team kids.
14. Talk about the job Ron Zook has done at Illinois.
Ron was a good coach and kind of got a bad deal at Florida. He's a good recruiter and a very enthusiastic guy. Illinois has gotten better and better and they're going to be a very tough opponent this week.
15. Do you feel you're giving your playmakers enough chances to make plays?
There are different ways to look at that. Joe didn't come out of the game thinking they could have done much differently. Michigan was playing soft against PSU and paid close attention to the wideouts. They didn't run the ball as well as Joe would have hoped, but that was Joe's decision and his alone that they would try hard to establish the running game first.
16. What is Tony Davis' status?
If Tony is ready to go, he's the first team guy. Tony didn't practice much last week, so he wasn't able to play much Saturday. Rubin went in there and did a good job.
17. Was there any thought given to benching Morelli during the game?
18. Can you specify what you felt Morelli did well?
They had some long drives in there. Joe thinks Morelli was fine. He fumbled the ball and missed an open receiver here or there, but nobody's perfect.
19. What do you have to do now to keep the team together?
Joe has to make sure the players understand that they are going to be a good football team. The coaches understand that this week is going to be a challenge. Joe thinks he has as good a coaching staff as there is. Sometimes, he sticks his nose in there and screws things up. He probably has to allow his assistants more free rein. He usually does more harm than good when he sticks his nose in there.
20. How did Lydell Sargeant play Saturday?
Lydell has done well. Joe hasn't really looked at the tapes much to say how well he played against Michigan, but Lydell has played well.
21. Do you feel inexperience has been holding you back on the offensive line?
Joe doesn't think that is holding them back. They have scored a lot of points except for the Michigan game. The field position was a real problem. The Michigan offense had the ball the whole time. They couldn't get the ball often enough and when they did get it, it was usually deep in their own territory.
22., When will John Shaw be back?
Joe doesn't know. Shaw hasn't practiced for two weeks.
23. It seems in these losses, you're often struggling on offense...
Joe disagrees with that. Last year, they were a fine offensive football team at times. They have to have a good defensive team before anything else. Morelli didn't throw an interception in 30 or 31 passes. Joe isn't arguing that the offense needs to get better. They do need to get better, but he disagrees that they struggled.
24. Will Austin Scott start at Illinois?
Joe will wait and see what happens in practice.
25. Is there a common problem of not getting the ball into the end zone on the road with Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin?
When you're playing a tough, tight football game you have to be careful you don't give it to them. Last year at Ohio State, they threw two interceptions for touchdowns because PSU had to throw to get back into it. When you play the game the way most times you like to play it - tough defense, good kicking game and take advantage of opportunities on offense - then you win that type of game. They haven't been able to take full advantage of offensive opportunities in those games.
26. Talk about J Leman.
Illinois was a tough defensive team last year and they're better this year. They have a good scheme. They don't give up a lot of big plays.
27. How beneficial was the Michigan game for the young defensive line?
The game was good for the whole football team. It was important for the defensive line to stay tough and hang in there the whole game. They also got to play a lot of kids up front and they all hung in there. They did well. PSU was solid defensively but they couldn't force a couple of turnovers. The other guy was playing it close to the vest. They weren't taking any chances. They scored on a QB scramble. The big play of the game was 3rd and 16 where they let the QB get away and find a receiver.
One play here, one play there...
28. Evaluate the offensive playcalling by Galen Hall and Jay Paterno.
They did really well.
29. How much input do you have on the playcalling.
Joe sends some ideas up to the booth when he notices things about the defensive schemes being used.
30. Your impressions of Evan Royster?
Royster's going to be a good back, but it's hard to get him in there when Scott has played well in big games and Kinlaw is starting to feel his oats. He's really coming on. Royster's time will come.
31. If you keep fumbling the ball with a conservative gameplan...
They fumbled it twice. Morelli fumbled and Scott fumbled and that was close to being down. They threw the ball 50% of the time. Joe doesn't want to throw it more than that if he can help it. That's not the way for Penn State to become a really good football team. Outside of the fumble, Morelli was careful with the ball. He threw the ball away under pressure and made some improvements in that area.
32. What type of impact will Zook's recruiting have on the conference?
Penn State doesn't go against him a lot in recruiting. He has done a really good job in the Washington DC area. He can go down to Florida. He's an aggressive recruiter and an aggressive coach. He's a good one.