I was obviously very pleased with the win. I thought our kids hung in there pretty well. I really like Booker (Stanley), again coming in and running hard. I thought he played exceptionally hard for a young player like that. Good environment. It was an interesting game. We both made a lot of mistakes. I didn't think we were particularly sharp. Yet, we did what we had to do. I was really pleased with our special teams. We've made mistakes on special teams, but they had some big plays today. Caused two turnovers, had a big kickoff return and a punt return, so I was really pleased with that. All in all, it was a good win. I thought Penn State played extremely hard, they have good players. We were fortunate to walk out of here with a win.
Are you glad No. 18 (Jim Leonhard) plays for you?
Eighteen's a good player. He competes hard and I just love him to death.
Can you talk about the offensive line and what they did late in the third quarter and fourth quarter?
The last three games we've kind of ridden our offensive line and our running game. As you saw, Penn State had a lot of people close to the line of scrimmage. They were stunting about every play. A lot of line movement and a lot of linebackers running down hill. So it puts a lot of pressure on the offensive line. I though they blocked pretty well and did a nice job and moved the chains and I thought Booker ran particularly hard. Dwayne did a nice job him when he was in there. He and Anthony both tweaked their ankle and could not go late in the game. But the offensive line is coming around very well.
They made a decision to gang up on the run early. Is that why you decided to pass the ball more in the first half?
I don't think they ganged up. We were just mixing it up. We have a script of what we're going to do. We didn't come in here planning on running every snap.
In the fourth quarter when Penn State was driving for a touchdown, you held them twice on three-and-out. How impressed were you with your defense?
I wasn't very impressed with the time before. They went down the field about 80 yards and didn't take a minute of the clock I don't think. The beginning of the second half we had three or four three-and-outs and then with the game on the line they really answered it. That's what football is all about—making plays and doing what you have to do to try to win. That is how you walk off the field with a win. But they played well. We had some guys down and Brooksy (Robert Brooks) went in for Aiello and did a nice job at free safety, helped out over the tight end. Our guys answered. It was huge.
Is it any more special when you beat a legend like Joe Paterno?
This is a hard place to play and it's especially hard because it's a well-coached team with a lot o f good athletes. Just managing the crowd and the trip and everything else, it's hard to win on the road. There's no one that respects Joe Paterno and his program anymore than I do. So it's very meaningful. It means a lot to me, particularly coming from this state that my team can come in here and we're fortunate enough to come out with a win.
Can you talk about how you were facing the top pass defense in the country and your receivers' ability to get open in the first half?
We didn't throw very much. I think those statistics are misleading. They played against teams that have run against them a n awful lot.
What does it say about your run offense that your third-string running back has 100 yards in the second half?
He's done that before. I can't praise him enough. He did it a couple weeks ago at North Carolina he had 120 yards or 119 yards. I was really impressed with him because that was his first really extended duty. To come here against a better football team and do it; it was impressive. He was running touch. He finishes runs, he is physical. He loves to play.
Are you going to look at Brooks at safety this week?
He has played safety before; he is the backup.
In place of Aiello?
I'm not going to make that decision now.
Talk about your game plan to contain Michael Robinson and do you think you did that today?
I thought we did in the running game. I really was surprised—he threw the ball much better than I anticipated. He threw the ball very well. We really worked hard against the option and quarterback runs because I thought that was what they would try to hang their hat on. We really played the running game well.
Why did you choose to use the squib kick a lot today?
You haven't seen many of our games have you (laughing)?
We haven't been a stellar outfit. We've given up some kicks. I just felt that I was willing to give up 10 yards and spot it down there on the 30. They way it worked out, it worked out pretty well because it was a slick ball and we knocked one loose. So that is why we did it.
And our guy doesn't get it to the end zone. If I had a guy like there's we would kick off deep every time because he is going to put it deep in the end zone 95 percent of the time.
Is it a concern that you couldn't put this game away?
They wouldn't cooperate would they (laughing). Give them some credit. They went right down the field. We give them a little separation and with less than a minute in two different occasions they go right down the field and answer. Let's give them credit. They executed well. Their tight end is a good player. We didn't have a very good match up. Our free safety couldn't run with him and then that last one, he threw the ball very well to get it down the field.
Using Cowans and Brooks late in the game, were you just looking for some guys to maybe—
No, Cowans plays on our—he is our starting nickel corner. So he is on the nickel team. Brooks just runs faster than Aiello. We thought we should at least put somebody out there that could run as fast their tight end.
How tough is it to match up against that tight end?
Well, we couldn't match up with our first guy. He's a nice player. The safety should be able to run as fast as the tight end normally.
How tough is it to pick up first downs at the end and run the clock out?
To run the clock down like that and you don't want to get minus yards but on a first down, I'm not sure what happened, they got penetration, but they are running down hill. One more first down and we win the game, that is what we were concentrating on. I think we had two first downs on that drive and ran a lot of time off the clock. And then did a nice job in the punt game to get the ball out and spot it inside the five. I think that says a lot for our offensive line and our fullback, Bernie (Matt Bernstein), does a nice job at blocking.
Did you address that last play, instead of knocking the pass down they went for the pick?
I'm not going to correct anything tonight. I'm going to celebrate the victory. Btu we'll correct that. We teach that—you're supposed to drive the ball down.
R.J. Morse struggled with a snap last week, but played well this week. Can you talk about his turnaround
R.J. really has pretty good hands. He probably just didn't concentrate last week—cause he is the holder for PAT/Field goals for us. He has excellent hands. And that ball comes back—our long snapper is excellent. It has a lot of velocity on the ball.
You have what you want coming to your stadium next week with Ohio State…
It's a big game for us, defending national champ and a night game. It should be a nice atmosphere. We're going to have to a play a lot better. I know that. Ready or not here we come. Isn't that what they say? We are going to play them. We just have to try to get our guys ready. We have done a lot of good things. We have been through spurts. We have got to clean them up. We cleaned up some things on the kicking game. We have to hope all our guys are healthy. We will give them our best shot.
What did you think of Jim Sorgi today?
I thought he missed some throws. I thought he had some very good throws in the beginning of the second half. But I've seen him sharper.
Can you talk about the penalties, it seemed like you had more than usual and some came in crucial moments of the game?
The chop block, I thought that was a funny call, away from the play, I'm going to have to review it and see it.
What about the roughing the kicker?
Foolish penalty. That is a foolish penalty. We are going to get the ball near midfield—those are things that upset me as a coach; that upset any coach is when you have foolish penalties. Sometimes it is just being aggressive, but roughing the kicker is uncalled for. It gives them a chance. It gave them the lead. And it gave up points.
Can you talk about Davis and Mack?
Mack came back and played.
Anthony and Dwayne couldn't play. They tweaked their ankles, I don't know how severe.
How good is the feeling that you have three running backs that can come in and do an outstanding job?
Well it is a blessing because we've had two of them hurt in a couple different games and to be able to continue running the ball effectively—it has been a blessing. I've said enough about Booker. I don't want to spoil him.
Do you think Jim has trouble in the rain?
I didn't think it rained much from the second corner on. It was slick early on. But from the second quarter on I thought it was a pretty nice day.
In the second half there was a seven-minute drive, you had 13 straight runs. Had you decided that that was how you were going to be able to move the ball?
You've preached being a four-quarter team. Do you feel that you are?
Playing in this league you have got to play four quarters and you have got to make plays in the fourth quarter. I thought this would be a four quarter game, I thought it would be a physical game. I thought it would go down to the end, which it did. The only thing that was different—I thought they would try to run the ball a little bit more. I was surprised that he threw as well as he did. I was really scared that they'd run the football and play option football—you don't see that that much anymore.
Can you talk about Brandon Williams—he had the kickoff return?
Brandon is a play maker. You'd like to get the ball in his hands more. That was a big kickoff return to answer them scoring and to make a play. Again, you've got to make plays. In this league, games are close, you need playmakers and he is a playmaker. He is a heck of a player and a heck of a competitor. He has spirit.