Monthly Archives: July 2009

Wallace must answer to Paterno

Wrapped up an interview with defensive coordinator Tom Bradley a little while ago. I’m putting together a story for the season preview edition of Blue White Illustrated, among one of the things I asked Bradley was the status of defensive back A.J. Wallace.

Bradley said it’s not his call what happens to the senior corner.

“That’s between (head coach) Joe (Paterno) and A.J.,” Bradley said.

With that we moved on.

Look for a full story on the PSU defense and more comments from Bradley in the season preview edition of BWI coming out on newsstands in the next couple of weeks.

One other tidbit you’ll find in there, season picks. Just throwing mine out there now, I’m picking 12-1, a loss at Illinois, winning the rest and beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Now Oregon, you ask? Yes, the Ducks. I think USC is going to play for the national title, leaving the Pac-10 in need of a fill-in for the Rose Bowl. Oregon, behind Jeremiah Masoli and a decent offense, I think they will make a run at the Pac-10 title, but thier schedule is murder.

The Ducks, and their 1,908,675, 130, 004 uniform combinations must navigate trips to Boise State, they host Purdue and Utah then it’s the Pac-10 schedule opener with Cal, which should be decent too.

They should go at least 2-1 to start the season (Losing at either Boise or against Utah), and if they beat Cal, then all bets are off. Plus, the key to the schedule? They host USC. USC never plays well at Oregon or at Oregon State. For the record they also host the Beavers in the “Civil War” to close the season.

So keep the Ducks in mind if you are looking for a Pac-10, possible BCS darkhorse.

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Iowa has trip to the White House

Kirk Ferentz was prepping for this anyway….

Penn State made it officially official today, the September 26 primetime game against Iowa is the ‘White House’ game on the 2009 Penn State schedule.

Here’s the viral announcement.

I asked Ferentz about opening up the conference schedule on the road during the coaches’ spring teleconference:

“I’ll make this prediction, playing Penn State next year or 10 years from now will be tough. Playing there is tough and it’s pretty predictable.”

“It’s not 100-percent, but it’s probably over 90-percent that we open on the road. That seems to be our trademark. However the computer shakes out we seem to always open up (conference play) on the road early.”

There’s been this pattern with the schedule and “White House” games in the past three seasons. Three seasons ago it was Notre Dame, a 41-17 winner over PSU the year before in South Bend.

Last year it was Illinois, which beat PSU 27-20 in Champaign the season

Runningback Shonn Greene (23) of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after his team defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions by scoring a field goal with six seconds left on the clock at Kinnick Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa defeated Penn State 24-23. (Getty Images)

Runningback Shonn Greene (23) of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after his team defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions by scoring a field goal with six seconds left on the clock at Kinnick Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa defeated Penn State 24-23. (Getty Images)

before.

This year it’s Iowa, which spoiled a possible BCS title game spot with a 24-23 last-second win over PSU last season in Iowa City.

Notice a pattern?

The interesting side note is Iowa ownership of this series in the last few years. Sure Penn State is up 11-10 all-time, but doesn’t it seem like Ferentz has had Joe’s number in the last few tries?

I’d argue this might be PSU’s Big Ten rival….since I keep beating a dead horse with that discussion.

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Briles high on Taylor

It’s pretty safe to assume that former Penn State defensive tackle Phil Taylor will fit in nicely at Baylor.

His new head coach, Art Briles, had some nice words to say about the transfer at Big 12 Media Day on Tuesday.

In my estimation, I don’t think there’s better in America on the field. The guy is 6’5″, 352, and he’s got a feed of 165 pounds. Those people don’t exist. Plus he’s got a demeanor that coincides with what you’re looking for on the defensive side of the ball.
We really are proud that Phil puts on the green and gold and he’s a Baylor Bear. We expect big things out of him because he can deliver. You take him and help solidify the front along with Joe Pawelek who has the skills. The characteristics and intangibles he possesses at the middle linebacker position solidifies that area. And Jordan Lake as the safety. All the same things I said about Joe plus being a fierce competitor. And then we have the chance to have a really solid defense, which you must have, you must have to win our division.

Don’t forget Taylor’s defensive coordinator at Baylor is former PSU assistant coach Brian Norwood.

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JoePa Transcript

Courtesy of ASAP, here’s Joe Paterno’s Q&A from earlier today at the Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.

JOE PATERNO: I would just like to answer some questions. I don’t want to get into some things as to where our football team is exactly because I’m not quite sure right now where we are for a lot of reasons. We’re going to have to take some young people and put them in key spots. There will probably be a couple of kids I haven’t seen play yet. But that will go on for a while. So why don’t I just get into some questions you guys may have. I don’t want to make this too long if I can help it.

Q. What makes you come back year after year?

JOE PATERNO: Oh, I’d miss you guys. (Laughter). What would I do on a nice beautiful day in July? (Laughter).I just enjoy it. I’ve enjoyed coaching, I’ve enjoyed the competition, I enjoy the challenges that go on with coaching at the level we’re at. I enjoy being around young people. I don’t know what else I’d rather do.
There’s going to come a time when I’m going to have to look in that mirror and say, hey, you’re not doing a job and you have more of an obligation to the University than just going out there and going through the motions. I don’t think I’ve reached that yet. But that day will come, and then I’ll decide to get out of it. But right now I’m enjoying it. I think I can do a good job. I’ve got a heck of a staff. We’ve been able to recruit fairly well, and we’re looking forward to the kind of competition we have in the Big Ten.
I think we came into this thing in ’93. I didn’t realize that it would be quite as competitive as it has become, and that’s been a real challenge, and it’s something that I’ve honestly enjoyed. I’ve enjoyed the associations I’ve made with some awfully fine people who are fellow coaches and some athletic directors and everything else, and I’m just reluctant to get out of it right now.

Q. Could you talk about Daryll Clark, what he does best and his skill set, and what else you’d like to see him improve upon this year?
JOE PATERNO: Well, Daryll had a fine year last year, but he’s got to grow on that. I think people will know a little bit more about him. He hadn’t played a lot of football before last year, and that probably was my fault. Jay Paterno, who coached the quarterbacks two years ago, wanted to play Clark more, and I thought it would discourage the kid that we were using, and I thought the kid we were using had the potential to be a good quarterback, and I blew that one.
But Daryll, when we played him, he made some plays and he’s started to get better and better. He’s really got a fine arm, a good release, he’s got a good feel for the pass game, and he’s one of those kids, he’s big enough, he’s tough enough, he can run with the football.
He loves to play, and he carries people with him. He’s a dynamite guy in the huddle. In your winter program he’s a guy out there pushing everybody, one of the guys that we have. And he’s just, I think, going to have a fine year.
But you’ve got to get better at the little things you do well and all of a sudden not try to jump too far ahead. I think if we can just keep him progressing, he’ll be a really good football player.

Q. You’ve talked in the past about how the Big Ten often goes into hiding in between the end of the regular season and Bowl games. Now teams like Illinois and Wisconsin are adding a game the first weekend in December. Is that something your program is looking to do, too?
JOE PATERNO: I didn’t quite get all of that. Are you saying that Illinois and Wisconsin have added a game after the regular Big Ten season? Is that what I heard? And whether we ought to do that, too, so when we go to a Bowl game we’re not that far away?

Q. Yes.
JOE PATERNO: We haven’t considered doing it. I try to stay out of the scheduling because we schedule so far ahead, and obviously I can’t be looking who we’re going to be playing in the year 2020. I’m dumb, but I ain’t that dumb. (Laughter). And I’m optimistic but I ain’t that optimistic. (Laughter).
I think it would be — I think Illinois and Wisconsin are doing a smart thing because I think we are at a disadvantage. I felt that way when we played Southern Cal this year. They had two games after we played, and it’s a home game for them. So I think it’s a tough deal for a Big Ten team to go out and play a team that’s had two good tough games after we’ve finished and we’re sitting around. You can go out there and do some things, but there’s not that intensity, there’s not that kind of edge that you’re going to need.
As a result we didn’t play very well in California, and I didn’t do a very good job of coaching. I didn’t have them quite ready. So I think that’s a good idea and something maybe we’ve got to look into.

Q. Your new hip, what does it allow you to do in terms of participating in practice?


JOE PATERNO:
Well, there’s no reservations on it. The only thing I have found out is that I get a little tired — I used to be able to walk. I came back from the beach a couple weeks, ten days ago, and actually I used to walk four, five, six miles every morning. I went about two, and then the leg would get a little tired, back would get a little tired. So I’m working up to where I can do what I used to do. But I don’t have any pain. There’s no reservations on it. I’ve just got to keep working on it and getting it stronger.

Q. How much did what last year’s team did, how much did that just invigorate you or charge you or get you…
JOE PATERNO: Well, I think obviously when you can compete and you’ve got a chance to be successful in where you’re competing, that has a lot to do with it. I’ve been pleased, a couple years ago we were having our problems, and I had some people putting pressure on me, and I said, we’re only one or two players away from being pretty darn good, and we’ve had four pretty good years since then.
And I think we have good football players. I’m not getting up here and telling you we don’t have any at all and it’s just going to take a miracle and you’re going to want a coach and all that stuff. We have good football players and they’re fun to be around. They’ve got a little personality and I can clown around with them and vice versa and the whole bit.
I think that’s got something to do with it, sure. If I were with a bunch of kids that really didn’t care and I had to go back in there and start all over —
But I would add the other ingredient, I’ve got such a good staff. I’ve been able to keep my staff. I’ve only lost one coach in about ten years. Brian Norwood went down to Baylor to become the defensive coordinator because he wants to be a head coach, but that’s the only coach I’ve lost for quite a while. But those guys have been around, and it’s an easy job for me right now. It’s not a tough job. It’s easy because I’ve got good coaches and got good players.

Q. Is it accurate to say that a lot of the season hinges on the offensive line, and how quickly in your experience can you rebuild one, reconstruct one?
JOE PATERNO: Well, that’s one of the reasons I’m reluctant to get up here and start talking about what I think about the football team because there are some areas where we definitely have some concerns, and I’m not sure where we are. One of them is the offensive line. We have a couple of kids back who are good football players, but after that we’re going to have to have some kids come along in a hurry.
It’s a big concern of mine, and I think until we go through a good, tough preseason practice with some of them, there’s a little pressure on them. A lot of them we’ve seen practice, and they’ve played some, but they haven’t been anywhere where the success of a game rests on their shoulders, and they can’t make dumb mistakes, can’t jump offsides, can’t lose hold of a guy, all those kinds of things. I’m not quite sure where we are up front, but I think it is a question mark for us.

Q. You have one of the great rivalries going as far as coaching, going against Bobby Bowden for the all-time wins in college football, but the NCAA is considering vacating some of Bobby’s wins. Your thoughts on vacating wins that have already been earned on the field?
JOE PATERNO: I don’t particularly like the word rivalry you use with Bobby Bowden. Bobby is a good friend of mine. I think it’s ridiculous that the NCAA would take wins away from him personally. But I think that Bobby played with what he had and he won games with what he had, and I don’t think there’s any reason for anybody to say, hey, you’re not entitled to have that win on your record.
It’s no problem for me, I’m not interested in who wins the most games, I’m just interested in what I’ve got to get done from my end of it. Bobby is, as I said, a good friend, and I think has been a great credit to the game and has done a marvelous job. If it turns out he’s got more wins when he retires than I have when I retire, so be it. Why the big fuss about it?
It bothers me a little bit that the NCAA would use him almost as a scapegoat for some things that went on at Florida State, and I really don’t know all the things that went on that caused their problems. But I hope they let him keep his wins.

Q. Do you ever get tired of defending your nonconference schedule for this year, the fact that the four teams all had losing records last year?
JOE PATERNO: No, I really don’t — I couldn’t tell you what their record was. I know Syracuse, we scheduled Syracuse, they were doing really well. You know, you don’t know. I was anxious to reschedule Syracuse because at that time Paul Pasqualoni played for me and was a GA on our staff and was the head coach, and I was hoping that we could have a good thing.
We’re playing Temple, and the head coach at Temple is a former player of mine, was captain of one of our teams and it’s a Philadelphia game. We don’t have to make excuses for that. We’ll have our troubles with Akron. Akron is a well-coached football team. They do well. They’re recruiting well.
You don’t know. Look at what’s happened the last couple years with people in their opening games, that they’ve gotten licked because somebody thought that the team that they were playing wasn’t very good. I don’t know how good anybody else. I don’t know how good we are right now. We haven’t played a game. I haven’t seen these guys play a game yet. So for me to get up here and worry about what people think about our nonconference schedule, hey, you guys have got to talk about something. The fans have got to put something on those — what do you guys call those things, Twittle-do, Twittle-dee? I haven’t got the slightest idea what you’re looking at, either.

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Clark snubbed at Media Day

I’m not sure I understand this one…

To me, the storyline of day one of the two day media gathering is this. How in the world can anyone look at Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and PSU quarterback Daryll Clark and tell me that Pryor deserved the nod over Clark for preseason Player of the Year in the Big Ten?

Everyone knows I wrote probably way too much about Clark last season (do your own search, I’m not linking to them)…his season was among the best ever in school history, he returns. This is where the discussion ends.

If Clark is the best quarterback in the conference, and he is, and the preseason pick for Player of the Year was a quarterback, how could it not be him?

Pryor is a freak of a talent, his best football, should he choose to stay for all four years (or at least three), is ahead of him, but the pick, while rather clueless, is based on nothing  more than potential. It’s as if Clark’s 2,592 yards and 19 touchdowns meant nothing. By the way, Clark was also the first team quarterback last season on the Big Ten postseason team. So you’re telling me he’s regressed?

Pryor, by the way only threw for 100-plus yard six times last year. He tossed 12 touchdowns and four of them came against Troy. This isn’t to suggest that Pryor does not have the ability to take over the college football world. He does. But over Clark, right now? I don’t buy it.

I respect and read daily the other writers from the 10 other conference teams. A lot of them have been very helpful in the last two years, but this one is wrong.

Something tells me that Clark, who models himself after close friend and mentor Michael Robinson, will revert to exactly what Robinson and his teammates did at the 2005 version of Media Days. It was there where no one outside of the PSU beat wanted to talk to M-Rob and the players. The snub and lack of attention was used as a motivating factor for an 11-1 season and Orange Bowl win.

Think Clark won’t do the same? Think he won’t be extremely amped up to play Ohio State in November?

Clark will speak later today, it’s expected to be picked up by ESPN News, as the Big Ten Network will end coverage at 3pm.

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Green ready for return

It’s a play Stephfon Green probably has watched over and over, yet his feelings never change.

With a 1:24 showing on the clock during the first half of the Rose Bowl, Penn State already trailing 24-7 to overpowering USC, Green looked to capitalize on his home run potential and get his team back in the ball game before halftime.

Just as Green started to explode past midfield, Trojans safety Taylor Mays stripped Green.

A critical turnover that thwarted Penn State’s best scoring chance in the second quarter.

A chance they desperately needed.

Ultimately, Green, who was substituting for the injured Evan Royster, would see his Rose Bowl come to an end with an injury of his own.

One that kept him out of April’s Blue White game and prevented him from working out full bore until June.

Green is now healed physically, and mentally, he’s ready to move past that fumble.

“I put the loss of the Rose Bowl all on my shoulders with that fumble right before halftime so I’m real anxious to prove to everybody that I got better, that I’m better carrying the ball-wise, running the ball-wise, being more patient,” Green said earlier this month at Lift for Life.

Only Green knows what was racing through his mind as fellow teammates worked out this spring. Only Green knows how good it feels.

Stephfon Green (21) is eager to show he hasn't lost a step after rehabbing an ankle injury suffered in The Rose Bowl loss to USC in January/AP Photo

Stephfon Green (21) is eager to show he hasn't lost a step after rehabbing an ankle injury suffered in The Rose Bowl loss to USC in January/AP Photo

But no one knows how good he will feel when he can finally get back on the field in live game action against Akron on Sept. 5.

“Long, tough and I’m just glad it’s over with,” is how Green described the rehab process. “I’m just glad it’s over with. I’m glad to be back at 100-percent, I’m glad to do everything with my body, you know, no more (being) limited in what I can do. I’m 100-percent and I’m full go.”

What Green brings to the table is a total package with home run threat.

As one of the fastest members of the Nittany Lion team, Green hasn’t even run a 40-yard dash since last year thanks to his leg injury.

But he promises he hasn’t lost a step, even though he might be a bit behind.

“These guys put on pads, these guys got a head start on me, so I’m just real anxious to get back in August, give my team what they really need,” Green said.

“I haven’t run the 40 since I ran the 4.25 (last season), but hopefully I get to run it when the freshmen run theirs because I couldn’t run my in the spring.”

Green, who was injured in high school, continued on about his frustration.

“It was real frustrating. I felt like I was back in high school all over again. I finished in high school but college it’s totally different. I couldn’t finish the game, I was real frustrated because I put half of the blame on myself with that fumble, me not getting the first down when we really needed it, things like that.”

Now healed, physically and after undergoing somewhat of a mental rehab too, Green is focused on the 2009 season, and the quest for a second straight Big Ten championship.

“It’s always going to be on my mind until I can take my team a step further,” Green said. “The Rose Bowl was good, Big Ten champs is good, but you know all 119 of us have one goal and that is to win a national championship.

“I’m trying help my team out to get back there.”

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McDonald removed from team

Penn State senior wide receiver James McDonald has been removed from the team, according to a statement released by the university’s athletic department:

“James McDonald, a reserve wide receiver and recent graduate of Penn State’s College of Communications, will not be invited back for his fifth season on the football team.”

McDonald was charged with DUI on Monday in a Centre County Courtroom. According to documents obtained by Fight On State, McDonald was pulled over in the State College Boro and had a blood alcohol level of between .08 and .10 when he was pulled over.

McDonald was about to enter his fifth year and saw limited duty in the previous seasons, catching five passes a season ago.

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