Hear what he had to say about the regular-season finale against Michigan State, Senior Day and more below.
Here is the recap of his comments:
1. How much of an impact has Derrick Williams had in recruiting while he has been at Penn State? Joe has said that the program was so close to being good but they needed a couple of guys and he has been one of those guys. He has played very well from the start of his career. It's a shame he broke his arm as a freshman. He can do anything he wants to do on the football field. He could have been a great cornerback if he wanted to be.
2. Is there any concern that Daryll Clark is pressing?
He's being unfair to himself. Joe would be critical of him in his carelessness with the football, but that's because he tries to get every inch he can when he runs with it. He's being too tough on himself and the media is being too tough on him. The team is 10-1 and the one loss is not his fault. Sure, he could have won that game, but so could Joe and about 15 other guys.
3. Has a date been set for your surgery?
When the time comes, the doctors will make a decision. Joe talks to them and the doctors watch him. When the time is appropriate, they will set down and decide what's best for the program, the players and the coaching staff. He doesn't even want to talk about it right now. They have a big game coming up for the Big Ten championship against a very good Michigan State team.
They've got a chance to have a heck of a year and he wants to concentrate on that.
4. Talk about Javon Ringer.
He's a great football player. He's so durable and tough. He makes yards you don't think he can make. He's a coach's player. No showboating. Just give him the football and he gets every inch he can. He keeps his mouth shut. He's a leader. As an opposing coach, you have to admire him.
He doesn't look very big, but he's so strong. He's a heck of a football player.
5. What does it mean that the current seniors who chose Penn State whejn the program was down have a chance to win two Big Ten titles?
It's a credit to the kids themselves and a credit to the coaches who were recruiting them and being positive about the program. There is a belief in Penn State football and that it's a great place to play. The assistant coaches establish a relationship with the people they recruit and produce a continuity within the program.
Hopefully, when a kid comes to visit Penn State, he's not only looking at the buildings and the tradition, but also at the people he will be around the education he will get.
6. How difficult will Ringer be to handle in the second half when the defense is tired?
That's up to Penn State. Michigan State has a big offensive line and wear a lot of people down. Ringer's an unusual guy. He's very durable. Joe thinks back to Marcus Allen. In the fourth quarter, he looks like he's just starting the game. This kid reminds Joe of Allen and some of the other great backs USC has had.
7. Is there something you're not happy with about the offense of late?
The people that Penn State has played have done a good job. Some different blitz schemes have given them problems early in the game until adjustments were made. Against Iowa, too many opportunities were wasted. Other than that, they've done a pretty good job.
8. How do you think surgery will affect your involvement with the team preparing for the bowl game?
Joe doesn't know. When the surgery is done is up in the air. The decision will be made late this week or early next week.
9. Jared Odrick drew 3 holding penalties on Saturday. How important has he been to the defensive line?
Odrick's a fine football player. He's a really good athlete, a big man that can move. He's a tough guy to handle one-on-one. He's done very very well.
10. What goes through your mind when addressing the seniors before Senior Day?
It depends on how practice goes. Joe doesn't think that far ahead. He's concerned about whether they have the right practice schedule for today. Friday afternoon or Friday night, Joe will sit down and think about what to say on Saturday. He hasn't thought about it yet.
11. Is there still a concern about Clark's health in the offensive game planning?
No, you saw how hard Daryll ran and how much he ran against Indiana. They didn't want to get him banged up against Iowa. Williams was in there because he could do a few things running the ball better than Devlin. Devlin is a very good football player, but Williams is a slightly better runner.
12. Talk about the importance of getting the defense off the field.
It's obviously important to do it, but it won't be easy. They hold onto the football well. Joe thinks they have some depth on defense and that will allow them to stay in the game.
13. How many former players are coming in for this game?
Joe doesn't know who is coming back or how many? They try to get as many former players back each week as possible. It's great that they come back and it's great to see them. Joe wishes he had the time to focus on other things, but all he can focus on is this football team and getting them ready to play against a good Michigan State team. He just wants to make this game week as productive as it can be.
14. Can you send a message to people who are coming thinking it will be your last home game?
Come because it's going to be a big football game. A lot of good things can happen if the team wins.
15. Have the success of this team and your health issues affected your outlook on the future?
Joe hasn't thought about anything like that at all. He's not trying to be cute or dishonest. He honestly hasn't thought about it.
16. Was Evan Royster hurt on Saturday? He only got 11 carries.
Royster was ok. Joe's problem is that he wanted to get Stephfon Green more carries and get him caught up. If there was a choice during the game between Royster and Green, they probably went with Green.
17. Will there be more of an emphasis on the running game since MSU is 8th in the conference in rush defense?
Joe doesn't know. If they are running the ball effectively, they'll keep running it. If they take away the run, Penn State has to be able to pass. Michigan State has a terrific blitz package. They're very solid defensively and will be a difficult opponent.
18. Does Mark D'Antonio have this team playing with more discipline than Spartan teams of the past?
That's not for Joe to say. Penn State has played some very good Michigan State teams in the past. They're playing very well, maybe as well as anyone in the conference.
19. Once the surgery is done, is it a goal to get back on the sideline or do you anticipate staying in the press box?
Joe wants to get back on the field. Period.
20. Do you find a different perspective on the stadium and atmosphere during tv timeouts up in the press box?
Joe writes notes during the game and goes over them during those timeouts.
21. What went into the decision to redshirt Stephfon Green last year? How have you seen him develop this season?
He wasn't ready to play last year because he had only played a couple of games his senior year before getting hurt. He's getting more experience and getting better at following his blockers, finding holes, etc. He's getting better all the time.
22. Has the maturity of this team made it easier to back away because of your physical problems?
There's no question about that, but he wouldn't only credit the maturity of the players. The coaching staff deserves credit as well. They have so much experience that they don't need him around all the time in meetings. They can relate to each other so well. Joe has been fortunate to keep his coaches on the staff.
It's the determination of the squad to be good, the leadership among the players and their relationship with the assistant coaches. When he was healthy, it was the same way. Joe goes out there and horses around with the players or yells at them when they need it. He does that now from a golf cart.
23. You do expect to be back on the field for the bowl game if all goes well with the surgery?
Joe doesn't have the slightest idea yet. He'll find out after this game is over what will happen. He's not interested in what will happen until after the Michigan State game is over.
Joe's leaving it in the hands of the medical people.
24. Expand on the job your senior leaders have done.
It's not just the seniors. The wideouts have been great. Clark hasn't gotten enough credit. Royster is only a sophomore football-wise. The offensive line has good leadership with Shipley and Cadogan. The down linemen have hung together. The linebackers have Sales and Hull. They've worked hard and done a good job.
25. What are your thoughts on Kerry Collins' success this year?
He's a great guy, a great football player. He's been good wherever he's been. He's a big timer. He got into a situation where he didn't know how to handle a different life style. Joe's glad that he got over that. He got married, has a little girl now. He's a big time person.
26. Will Josh Gaines be available this week?
Joe thinks he will go this week. He practiced yesterday.
27. What does the Land Grant Trophy mean to you?
It means a win. When Penn State first got into the Big Ten, George Perles was at Michigan State after coaching with the Steelers. Joe knew Perles and his kids who had played in western PA. Perles called Joe when the Lions joined the Big Ten and asked if he would be interesting in locking in a rivalry game with Michigan State. That was fine with Joe and they went to the conference to set that up.
Michigan State is very similar. Both schools started in 1855 as land grant colleges, so it's appropriate.
28. What has Fran Fisher and his family meant to you?
Fran has been one of those guys that is always a delight to be around. He and George Paterno were very close. Fran kept George out of jail a number of times. (laughs) It's tough to lose good friends. Joe didn't get over to the services for Charlotte Fisher and he regrets that. It's going to be tough for Fran.