Apologies for no press conference update today, had get on the Big Ten call and talk to Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.
Here’s Joe’s transcript courtesy of ASAPSports (note, as some of you have asked, this is not the “official” one PSU sends out later in the day)
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to our weekly teleconference with Coach Paterno. We’ll start today with questions.
Q. Joe, you said after Saturday’s game you would take a look at your special teams. What did you see and are you planning to make any changes?
COACH PATERNO: Spend a little more time with them. I don’t know if that’s part of the problem or not. We did, we took a good look at them Sunday and yesterday. I think we’re going to make a couple personnel changes. We went out yesterday without pads, so on Mondays it’s tough to evaluate people. But today we’ll go out there and challenge a couple guys a little bit so that we can find out whether we really have it right people in there.
Q. Joe, what is Johnny Troutman’s status for Saturday? Can you evaluate your offensive line play against Ohio State?
COACH PATERNO: Troutman probably won’t play. He didn’t practice yesterday. We didn’t do much, but he didn’t do anything.
You know, obviously we haven’t done the kind of job you got to do, particularly in the second half, against clubs. I think we’ve depended too much on the big play. The offensive line, bumps and bruises, changes people around, has not helped.
We looked as if we were making progress, but when we came against a couple really good defensive seven-up people, we haven’t done a particularly good job.
Q. Joe, would you like to be able to get Kevin Newsome a few series with the first team before the end of the season?
COACH PATERNO: I don’t know where you’re coming from on that.
Q. Just for experience.
COACH PATERNO: Hey, we got a tough football game this week. Obviously, I haven’t spent much time looking at Michigan State, but I’ve looked at Indiana. We got a tough ballgame this week. Indiana has had some awfully tough luck, some of which was based on bad officiating. They had a chance to beat a couple good football teams, and got some bad calls.
I think we got to concentrate on Indiana.
Q. In the losses to Iowa and Ohio State, why do you think your team was handled physically by those two front seven, as you said?
COACH PATERNO: I think both Iowa and Ohio State played better than we did in the second half. Ohio State didn’t turn the ball over. Obviously, we did a poor job covering some punts, turned the game around. Iowa blocked a punt, turned the game around, intercepted a pass.
I think we played hard, but the other guys played pretty darn good.
Q. You talked a little bit about your offensive line. What can you do at this point in the season to help that along for the last couple of weeks and what is the situation at right tackle with who’s going to be playing there?
COACH PATERNO: We got to get better. We just got to keep working at the things that we’ve always done, try to overcome some deficiencies that maybe people have as far as technique or awareness of assignments, those kinds of things.
The right tackle, Poti really has played fairly well. I think he’s had one particularly bad play in the last two weeks where we got sacked. But other than that, I think he’s done fairly well.
Troutman being banged up, in all fairness, Troutman was not playing that well, we’ll probably have to sit around and figure out what we want to do with the left guard spot.
Q. Joe, I was wondering after you watched the film, what was your overall evaluation of Daryll Clark’s performance?
COACH PATERNO: I think Daryll was okay. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other. We started out the season with everybody wanting to take the run away from us, giving us a lot of opportunities in the pass game, because they didn’t think we had the kind of wideouts or quarterback that could scare them. Now we’re in a little different ballgame. People, they’re fighting like the dickens to take the pass game away from us and challenging us to run the football. We haven’t done a particularly good job, I think that’s obvious, running the football.
I think Daryll is doing all right. You know, I’m sure we could have done this, could have done that. You can always figure out something else you could have done. But I think he’s done fine.
Q. Sean Lee had a big game on Saturday. Is he as close as he’s been now to a hundred percent? Is he as close as he’s been since he got hurt?
COACH PATERNO: I think so. You’d probably have to ask him that. But just watching him play Saturday, I would agree with you. He played a good football game. If not as good as he can play, it’s very close. I think he and Bowman both have played really well. And Hull, we take him out on certain situations, but I think those three kids have done a good job.
I think we’ve played fairly well defensively. The big pass hurt us. You know, don’t ask me why it happened. One of the kids decided to guess on something, thought something else was going to happen, so he tried to make a play, left the guy wide open. Obviously that and the punt returns killed us.
Q. Joe, Evan Royster wasn’t on the injury report this week. Is he feeling a lot better now at this point?
COACH PATERNO: Actually, he played the ballgame. It was kind of a funny situation. Before the game, I guess he ran into a couple of people, couple of the kids that were dressed but they’re not going to play, so they don’t really get involved in the warmup. We dressed 112 kids last week. That’s probably as many as we ever dressed. I figured, big game, the kids had done a good job getting us ready. But he played the whole football game.
I didn’t see anything there where he was limping or anything like that. There was no problem with the medical people. He practiced yesterday. As I said earlier, we didn’t practice very hard yesterday, which is typical of a Monday. But he seems fine.
Q. Joe, Indiana’s running this pistol offense. I was wondering how different it is from what they’ve tried to do in the past?
COACH PATERNO: Oh, boy. What they’ve tried to do in the past? Well, what they’re doing is what we’ve seen a lot of people do now with the really good running quarterback. It’s a version of the old triple option from the shotgun.
They’re doing a good job with their offense. As I started out the conversation, they’ve had some tough, tough breaks. They have really moved the football most of the time against some pretty good football teams. They can move the football. Quarterback is tough. He may not have quite the speed Pryor has, but he’s very clever.
Honest to goodness, I can’t remember just how much I’ve seen them do with what they’re doing right now. But right now they’re running what you call a triple option, whatever you want to call it, and they’re doing it very well.
Q. Joe, I know every year the goal is to try to go undefeated, win the conference, BCS Bowl game, win the national championship. You get a chance to go 10-2, go to a decent New Year’s Bowl in Florida. If somebody said before the season with this bunch, with as many questions as there were, 10-2, a New Year’s Day Bowl game, would you have considered that a successful season?
COACH PATERNO: Right now we’re only 8-2. We got a tough game this week. I’ll think about it at the end if that happens.
I think maybe we’ve got to be a little bit more realistic each year when you look at a lot of things that go into it, our graduation rate, the type of kids we’re recruiting, the type of effort we’ve got out of kids, the great job that the staff does. I think maybe if we end up 10-2, that’s a pretty darn good year – if we end up 10-2.
Q. At one point you had one guy, seemed like you had the responsibility of special teams as one coach.
COACH PATERNO: That’s not true. We haven’t had that years and years and years, if ever. I can’t remember. We’ve always had one guy coaches this, one guy coaches that. Everybody helps out. But we never had where we had a specialty teams coach. Now, your memory plays tricks on you after you’ve been around as long as I have, but I don’t believe that.
Q. Do you think the process that you’re using now is working?
COACH PATERNO: I know where you’re coming from. No, it’s working. We just got to do a little better job, get some better people in there. That’s my problem, all right? I’ve got to make sure we get guys in there that can get the job done.
It’s not the scheme, it’s not the coaching, it’s a question of whether I’m giving them enough time or I’ve emphasized it enough and the whole bit.
Q. When you come out of a game like that, big picture, more cause for reflection going forward with personnel the rest of this year and beyond?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I don’t know ‘beyond’. I think you always evaluate personnel, even when you win. I think the first question I do every Sunday when we meet after a football game, win or lose, is say, Okay, let’s go down personnel. Anything we should change? Anybody we got out of place? Is there a better kid that we have overlooked? We do that every week, regardless. Obviously it becomes more dramatic when you lose because there’s always things such as questions you’re asking.
But, no, you know, Ohio State played a good football game. We lot licked by them. You hate to lose at home. But they played well. Didn’t put the ball on the ground. You know, we kicked the ball 10 times. We punted 10 times. We didn’t do a good job. We didn’t make a couple first downs so we wouldn’t have to kick.
You know, you just got to make sure you don’t overreact, that’s all, as a staff. I don’t think we’re gonna overreact.
Q. Senior Day. Can you talk about Sean Lee and then talk about what you tell your team, kind of reflect on this senior class, the contributions they brought to the table for you?
COACH PATERNO: Haven’t done it yet. I think a little later in the week as I watch practice, you know, we’ll sit around and talk a little bit about some of those intangible things that you’re talking about.
Right now I think we’ve got to focus on getting to be a little better football team, regardless of whether it involves seniors or involves kids. If I had to second guess myself a little bit on personnel, it might be that we decided to redshirt some kids who are pretty darn good athletes early because we didn’t think — because I didn’t want to play them 18, 20, 30 plays, tie up a year. So I have not really thought much about it, what I want to tell the seniors, because we got another game after this one.
I know where you’re coming from. I think it’s a good point. But I really can’t honestly tell you I’ve thought about it. I haven’t. Not yet. I will later in the week.
Q. Can you just explain the philosophy behind splitting up the special teams coaching? What are some of the benefits to that?
COACH PATERNO: Because that’s the way I like to do it. We’ve always done that. I grew up with that when I played in college. I grew up with it when I came here as an assistant coach.
I think if a guy is a linebacker coach, he’s got responsibilities there. You know, I think when they limit you to nine full-time coaches, you got to be careful you don’t take one out of the mix and doing nothing but working with specialty teams. You try to coordinate it so that you do have it.
You know, we haven’t been bad on special teams through the years. Let’s don’t get carried away, guys. I’m not about to change. I think we’re doing fine. I think the coaches are doing fine. As I mentioned earlier, if there’s anything that I would question, it’s whether we may not have the best people in there. That partly is because I decided that I didn’t want to use some young, good athletes early in the year because I didn’t want to just put them on a couple special teams. It had to be my decision, and that’s the one I made, and it may not be right.
Q. Indiana has two defensive ends who have been all-conference. How concerned are you about those guys?
COACH PATERNO: Very concerned. They’re two of the best ends we’re going to play against. Big, quick kids. Obviously, with the tackle situation what it is, most of the time you have to pass protect them. We’re very, very concerned about them.
I’m concerned about the whole Indiana football team. I mean, I think their defense is playing maybe not as dramatically as well as a club like Iowa or Ohio State, but those two kids, they’re tough. I think their whole scheme is good. They’re well-coached. They hustle all the time. So we’ve got our hands full. Those two guys are obviously the guys that create most of the problems.
Q. How would you evaluate your wide receivers, with the routes they were running? Looked like they were getting jammed at the line of scrimmage Saturday. Did they do a good job getting off of their coverage?
COACH PATERNO: Again, I’d be reluctant to be critical of those guys. I think they did all right. I’m not so sure I did a great job in some areas. But, you know, they’re young. Every once in a while they get in a new situation they have to adapt to, and they learn from it.
If I were to evaluate that game, I would say Ohio State just were quicker than we were. That may have been ’cause we may have been too emotional in our practices, what have you. I don’t know. But they looked quicker than we were Saturday. Whether they’re quicker than we are, you know, I’m not sure, but they were Saturday. I think that’s part of the reason the wideouts had their problems.
Q. You have two games left. How do you deal with letdown because there was so much hype from a week ago? You have two tough games remaining. How do you deal with it?
COACH PATERNO: You go out and practice, try to get better. You know, 8-2 isn’t a disaster. That’s where we are, all right? Now, you know, obviously when you lose to a couple good football teams at home, you don’t score a point in the second half against either one of ’em, you got some concerns. I got some concerns about that.
But I still think we have a bunch of kids that want to go out there and do well. For me to go out there and do anything but encourage them, that’s just not my style. I think we’ll go out there, we’ll practice hard this week, and we’ll see how good we are. We may not be good enough for Indiana, but we’ll find out.
But I’m not going to get into anything about what expectations people have, that so-and-so thought we were going to do this or that. I think that’s up to you guys. You guys can speculate all you want.
Q. Sean Lee and some of the other seniors in this class are probably some of the last players from that ’05 freshman class. Do you have any special affinity to those guys? Can you reflect on what they’ve done for the program?
COACH PATERNO: Sure I do. But, you know, I don’t have the luxury to sit around and say, Boy, I love so-and-so. We got a tough job ahead of us this week. We’ve got to concentrate on the job we’ve got to get done.
Yeah, you know, every time some of the kids come back into the locker room, we’re out in Chicago, Northwestern, there’s good eight, nine guys on the sideline, four of five I haven’t seen in years. I mean, you know, they brought back some memories of a lot of different situations. Every time Matt Millen comes up here to do a game, we get shooting the bull a little bit, You remember when so-and-so did this, so-and-so did that, all those kind of things.
Right now I don’t got time for that. We got to get our football team ready to play a little better than we’ve played all year ’cause it’s going to take a little better performance to beat Indiana. I don’t know how to explain it any other way but that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.