FOS AUDIO: Paterno PC (and recap)

Hear what the Nittany Lion coach had to say about the upcoming trip to Syracuse and more.

Penn State is 2-0 and ranked No. 17 heading into its first road trip of the season. The Nittany Lions take on former Eastern rival Syracuse Saturday.

Here what PSU coach Joe Paterno had to say about the game, the recent suspensions, the win over Oregon State and more.

FOS Audio: Paterno Syracuse PC

PC Recap

1. Have you moved anyone to defensive line? Will Evans and Koroma play?

They're looking at some possibilities. Monday is a tough day to figure things out. They have a couple of pretty good kids that can play so they're not in a hurry to make a move.

2. Have you decided on the status of the suspended players? Why did Quarless dress?

Joe thought Quarless looked good in a uniform. (laughs) There are circumstances involved that Joe isn't going to get into. Four people didn't have exactly the same level of involvement. Joe will play it day by day for a while.

3. How pleased are you with your defense?

The defense has played well and the coaches have done a great job considering they have had a different group each week with injuries and suspensions. Hayes was a big loss. They had been holding him back a bit because of the knee injury from a year ago. Seeing him go down was really tough knowing how hard he had worked to get healthy.

They had a couple of drives against them, but they played a good football team. Joe didn't know how good Oregon State's running back was until he saw him on tape. Joe wants the defense to be a little more aggressive in reacting to the ball and creating turnovers. The coaches have done a great job of getting them to hold together and putting things in that the players can handle.

3. Syracuse is having a big weekend planned. What memories do you have of Ernie Davis?

Ernie Davis went ot junior high in Allentown. Penn State has had some great games with Syracuse and they've always had great running backs going all the way back to Jim Brown.

4. Are you impressed with the team's ability to stay focused?

Yes. Joe is pleased with the kids because they won't allow things happening around them to take away from all the hard work they've put in. You also have to credit the coaches for keeping the players focused. Joe has always said that as long as he can keep his coaching staff topgether, the program will be fine. The kids appreciate that the coaches didn't quit on them and they haven't quit on themselves.

5. How is the health of Derrick Williams and Daryll Clark?

They're both fine. Williams has some kind of stomach strain. He was out there at practice yesterday running around. He'll be ok. Joe didn't even know Clark had a problem.

6. Do you get a sense of why Syracuse has struggled in recent years?

Joe only looked at one Syracuse game over the summer to get a look at what they like to do. Against Northwestern, they let things get out of hand. Against Akron, they got down 14-0 but then came back and switched quarterbacks. They can run. They have a couple of good running backs. Joe couldn't say why they have struggled. That's more of a question for Greg Robinson. Akron's a pretty good football team. They gave Wisconsin a good game out in Madison. Northwestern is also a good football team.

7. How did the Syracuse series end and how do you feel about the end of East Coast rivalries?

Joe wanted there to be an East Coast conference but Syracuse and some other schools were more wrapped up in basketball. Joe thought he could swing it but Pitt backed out. The Big East wanted Penn State to join for basketball only, but Penn State wanted an all-sports conference. They felt like they could get left out in the cold when the Big East started working on its own television contract, so they approached the Big Ten and were taken there. Joe repeated his problem with needing 7 home games and having trouble scheduling home and home series with former Eastern rivals. Joe would love to play Pitt more often, but they would have to come to Penn State a couple of times in exchange for a road game at Pitt.

8. How far along is Jack Crawford?

He's got a ways to go. He's a true freshman and has only played football for two years. However, he's an awfully competitive kid and has a lot of natural ability. He'll continiue to get better and before you know it, he's going to be a darn good football player.

9. Do you have any relationship with Dick McPherson?

Joe has always been fond of Dick McPherson. Joe recalled a phone call that he received from McPherson asking about Paul Pasqualoni. He was thinking of hiring Pasqualoni as a linebacker coach but had a problem hiring a guy that went to Penn State. McPherson later thanked Joe for not talking him out of hiring Pasqualoni.

10. Are you worried about motivation during this stretch of non-conference games before the Big Ten starts?

Joe is always worried about that. If you don't get better, you get worse. It doesn't matter who is coming up on the schedule.

11. Can you get an accurate assessment of the defense with all the injuries and suspensions?

Joe has a gut feeling that there are some people who have pride. Joe knows that the defensive coaching staff will get the most out of the available players. They lost Still and Hayes, both of whom would have been big parts of the defense. The players go out and practice hard and want to be good and he has coaches who can get a lot out of their players. It may not be an accurate assessment, but Joe thinks he has a good idea of what to expect from the defense.

12. Do you have to change the way you practice given the depth problems on the defensive line?

You can't really guard against injury in practice. Penn State probably practices less than anyone in the country. They don't do a lot, but what they do is intense. There's a lot of banging around. Tuesday is the tough day. They'll go offense against defense. It will be tough, but you have to do it, particularly when you have young players. If you want to make them better, you have to get them in there against the number one offensive line to give them a feel for the kind of people they'll play against on Saturdays.

13. Were you more disappointed that the Eastern league didn't come together than anything else you tried to get involved in off the field?

Joe thinks so. They tried to make the CFA a division of the NCAA. They couldn't get the Big Ten and PAC-10 to come in. Then Joe worked hard on that league. Maryland was getting icky about playing in the south. Their AD told Joe that if he could get the league together, then Maryland would join. He couldn't get Pitt to come in and the idea fell apart.

14. Was there much discussion among the eastern football schools to join the Big East then?

Joe tried but it didn't work. Connecticut didn't think they could compete in football. They were good in basketball. If Pitt had gone in, he would still have had a battle getting Boston College to join.

15. How much input do you have on the offensive game plan?

Sundays and Mondays, Joe gives Galen and Jay some ideas about what he would like to see without getting too specific. He does the same for the defense. Then he looks at the game plan and asks them to take things out that he doesn't want to see. They have some tough discussions about game plans. The assistants are passionate about what they want to do.

Joe watches a lot of tape to get a feel for what the opposition can do, but most of the work is done by the assistant coaches.

16. How much of a role does confidence in your offensive line have in what can be called offensively?

It does factor into it that they have an offensive line with more experience thatn they have in recent years. You have to be able to execute on blocks in order to be successful offensively. There is still a long way to go before this team can be considered really good though.

17. Does one game stand out in the Penn State-Syracuse series?

In 1955, Penn State beat Syracuse 21-20. They had Jimmy Brown and Penn State had Lenny Moore. Two of the greatest players in college football history. Both guys ran for almost 150 yards and in those days, you only got 12-15 carries.

18. What do you do to get your young defensive players ready to play?

Repeat, repeat, repeat. They give them tapes to watch at home. They try to put them in game situations as much as possible.

19. What is the relationship with Syracuse like now?

They have a home and homer with them, but that's it for now. Penn State has had some great games with them since the 1950s. In the old days, the team would go up there by bus. The Syracuse people would have a party and have the Penn State coaches over the night before.

20. How tough is it to play in the Carrier Dome?

They've played in domes before. They played in the Alamodome last year. It will be noisy, but you don't want to worry about the weather. The wind isn't a factor.

21. How have your linebackers have been progressing?

Sales and Hull had better games than they did the first game. Bowman and Gbadyu played well. There's a long way to go. The team hasn't faced any adversity yet. You don't know what kind of team you have until you're behind in a game.

22. What are the advantages of practicing less?

Fresh legs on Saturday. Kids get hurt when they are tired. They don't focus as well. You have to get them better and you have to put them in tough situations, but you don't want to leave the game on the practice field.

23. How do you feel about Davis' move back to corner and is Bowman ready to challenge Gbadyu for the starting spot?

Bowman and Gbadyu have both played a lot. It might not be 50-50, but they're both playing a lot and playing well. Corner is Davis' natural position. They played him inside last year because they were short a guy. He's back where he should be.

24. Assess Dan Lawlor's play.

He has played very well. He's all business out there. They have to get him the ball a little more. He doesn't even realize how well he is playing.

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