August 12, 2010

Penn State Media Day 2010: Paterno Press Conference Video & Transcript

At Penn State's annual football media day, Joe Paterno seemed in much better spirits back home in Happy Valley, speaking to a familiar rabble with which he knew he could be a bit more relaxed.

I think I'll try to post some reaction to this sometime tomorrow or this weekend. But for now, let's just say this one was much more comfortable to watch.

You've got to love the first line by Joe. Then again, anything is better than the first question from the Big Ten media day presser.

Via Penn State Athletics:
Coach Joe Paterno

Football Media Day News Conference

August 12, 2010

COACH PATERNO: I have one request -- Please don't ask me if I'm going to die tomorrow. (Laughter) Believe me, I've got a few more days left. (Laughter) Okay, let's talk football.

Q. I know you have some high expectations for Devon Still this year. Could you kind of tell me how he's coming along and your thoughts of what he'll be able to --

COACH PATERNO: Still is a good football player. He's worked hard. He's got a lot of ability. He's a big, rangy kid. He's probably 6-5, about 300 pounds. But I like him. He's a hard worker. When he first got here he was a little lazy, but he's really gotten to where he's a leader. So he's done very, very well.

Q. With Curtis Drake out now with a broken leg, what do you do to replace him and is there any thought of putting (Chaz) Powell back on offense?

COACH PATERNO: That's tough. Drake is one of the better football players we have. He's very versatile. I mean, he can do a lot of things. He can throw the ball; he was a heck of a high school quarterback. He's a really good receiver, good runner. It's a big loss for us, really is a big loss. But that's the way it goes. We've got to go without him. He'll be at least…they're talking six, eight weeks, so it'll be at least that.

Q. Any thought of putting Powell back on offense?

COACH PATERNO: Powell? Not really. Powell is doing very well on defense and likes it over there. Powell's biggest problem has been he's been -- you know, he's a kid that -- he's not been consistent in doing some things, but all of a sudden he's -- he looks like he's having some fun out there on defense, and he's really doing well. So I think -- I doubt it very much, unless there would be a disaster, we would not -- we'd keep Powell right where he is.

Q. You have several quarterback candidates with different attributes and different liabilities, and it's a little bit of a unique season because the offensive line has some question marks in it. So without naming names, do you have any templates you want to follow on what you want most out of the candidate who's ultimately the winning candidate?

COACH PATERNO: Well, it's a little too early. One thing that's changed, and I don't know whether you folks have been alert to it, but they changed the amount of time you have. They (NCAA) gave us an extra five days, (with) no more practices. You still can only get 29 practices, but you get four more days to get it in. So we've used the four days in order to get a little better feel for some of these kids.

So I told the coaches when we started, whatever you want to call it, preseason practice, but whenever we started practice, I said, since we've got the extra days -- we've never practiced for 29 days. I've always gone 26, 27, but we're going to take the 29, and we're using the extra days -- I'm using those to evaluate people. So we've spent more time trying to get to find out what some kids can do, who the leaders might be, whether we can come up with a couple of offensive linemen, because we've got troubles there, and to give all the quarterbacks a shot at it to see what they can do.

And now we took two days off. We took today off and tomorrow off, and I'll take two more days off down the road because I think we're going to work really hard now since we're -- as far as the class work. Right now we're taking finals tomorrow.

So once we get that over and once we get over the so-called tryout period, then we'll go to work, and we'll work hard the next week, take a couple days off, and again, hopefully we don't get banged up too much, and then get back in there where we start to get ready to play a football game.

Q. Considering what you have, though, is mobility more important than it has been, a grasp of the offense? Where do you think the winner is going to --

COACH PATERNO: I don't know. You know, I think it's a combination of things. It's not that easy to say, “this kid is going to play here.” I always go back -- every once in a while I tell the staff, years and years ago (Vince) Lombardi grew up in the same neighborhood I did in Brooklyn, and I used to go down when he was assistant coach with the (New York) Giants, used to be up in St. Michael's I think it was up in New Hampshire, I'd go up and spend some time. (Tom) Landry was in the secondary, was the defensive coach. Lombardi used to say all the time, the part of coaching you have to do is you have to get the right guy in the right spot doing the right thing at the right time.

Now, what combination that is, you don't know. I could not tell you what the makeup of this team is going to be because of the fact of what I just said. We've been trying people out. And we're trying to get the best combination of people to react to each other. A couple guys that may not be as good football players, there's a couple guys that we're not playing but who are good leaders and people that can do some things in the clutch, make some things happen when we got to make them happen.

So we're right in the process right now of we're trying to learn from them, really.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about the quarterback competition? Has anyone stood out and any possibility that you might play a freshman?

COACH PATERNO: Well, there isn't anybody with any experience out there, so when you say you're going to play a freshman or what have you, we may be forced into playing a freshman. I think we have really -- the (Kevin) Newsome kid is really a freshman. He started in January a year ago.

I know you think I'm bagging the question maybe on this one, but I really don't know who's going to be the quarterback. I don't know right now. We're trying to put them in positions, situations I should say, not positions. We try to put them in situations where they have to make something happen. They have to be able to do some things in the clutch, get a little confidence, get the football team to get some confidence in them so that they can get in the huddle and say to their team, hey, come on, let's go. Let's show these guys we're a pretty good football team and go from there.

I think we're going to -- we'll probably, before it's all over, not right away, but before it's all over we'll probably have a decent quarterback. Whether we're going to have a great one this year, you know, that's maybe a long shot.

Q. Pete Massaro sat out last year with a knee problem. How is he doing so far in the practice and do you expect him to be in the rotation at defensive end?

COACH PATERNO: So far okay. Now, again, we've only had the pads on once. Yesterday is the only day we've put the pads on, so it's tough to evaluate how he's going to handle maybe being in there 15, 16 plays where we're scrimmaging and he's got a play tired and things like that. We have not tested that thing that way. But we'll get around to doing it.

He looks as if he's okay. He looks as if he's going to be all right. He's a good athlete, he's a hard worker, he did a great job with his rehabilitation. The doctors were very -- and trainers were very pleased with how hard he worked to get himself to where he could play, so we're optimistic about it.

But for me to get up here and tell you he's ready to go, I don't think I'm in a position to say yes to that yet.

Q. With all the talent you lost at linebacker, what are you looking for in the competition there this summer?

COACH PATERNO: Well, I'm glad we've got a competition. I don't know what -- you know, I'm looking for solid play. Hopefully they'll play up to their potential, that a couple guys will come to the front. But I don't have any, “this guy has got to make X number of tackles, this guy has got to make three interceptions,” that kind of stuff. Hopefully we have a couple of kids that are going to make some plays in the clutch because of their ability. But we do have four or five pretty good linebackers. You know who they are, so there's no sense me getting into their names.

Q. How has (Doug) Klopacz looked at center so far? What will the evaluation process be to see if he can handle that and maybe if you have to move (Stefen) Wisniewski back?

COACH PATERNO: Well, he's got ability. If he doesn't…he's got to get a little bit more consistent. He has a tendency every once in a while to take a blow, but if he gets a little bit more consistent, he'll be fine. But Wisniewski right now is the second center, and last year he was our first center. So obviously we think Klopacz is pretty good, otherwise we wouldn't move Wisniewski over to guard.

I like Klopacz. He's all business, keeps his mouth shut, works hard, been around. He's a senior. So I think he's going to be okay. Now, whether he's -- we'll see. But there's three or four kids on that offensive line that are pretty good, and he's one of them. Right now I think we could play with him and do all right.

Then there's a couple other guys that will have to come through.

Q. Continuing on the offensive line, just in general, how do you feel about it, and is there a chance that any of the younger guys like (Eric) Shrive could see action at some point this year?

COACH PATERNO: I doubt if Shrive can. I think a couple kids have to. Shrive one of these days is going to be a pretty good football player, but right now he's -- he's just inconsistent. He guesses a little bit. He's not quite the disciplined kid you've got to be in this league right now. The kind of people we have to play against. He's not a take-charge guy. We're looking for a couple guys that can go out there and dominate some people. He's not there yet. He's a big, strong kid and he's got a chance to be good, but right now he's probably a year away.

But he works hard. He's a good kid, a bright kid, and I think eventually he's going to be pretty good.

Q. During the summer when you were a little bit under the weather, were you relying on your assistant coaches maybe more, and are you delegating more to them at this stage of the game?

COACH PATERNO: I'm not sure whether they would agree that I'm delegating. I don't know. We go into staff meeting, and there are some things that I don't particularly like that I see on the practice field, and I make it known that I think we want to change this or we want to do this or something like that. But on the field, I don't coach on the field as much as I used to. They're doing most of the coaching on the field.

In the old days I used to grab a couple kids and shove them around a little bit. There's two things wrong with that these days: Number one, the first one and the more important one is I don't want to get like the guy at Texas Tech, if you know what I mean. And the second thing is I prefer to wait until I get them in a meeting and say, “hey, I don't like what we're doing there and I didn't like the way he handled that kid or do something like that.” But I try to stick my two cents in.

Q. Can you talk about Evan Royster? We didn't get to see him in the spring game. Can you talk about how he's been preparing to get ready to handle the load and how will you use some of the other talented running backs you have to get them in the game with Royster, as well?

COACH PATERNO: Yeah, we were in practice. I don't know whether there's a point that you're making. I apologize for not being able to go along with what you're trying to get.

I think, as I tried to say earlier, spring practice has got to give way to preseason right now. I think the thing I have to do, and that's one of the advantages I have, I've coached so long and I've been around a lot of football players, a lot of football teams, is that I think I can sum up -- I don't think maybe I'm answering your question. I can sum up where are we this week, “where are we, does this kid have it, how long can we wait, let's put him in a situation where we test him.”

I mean, there's a lot of things you've got to do in the putting of a group together. You know, just remember this: We have to put together a group that has to play most of the time before massive crowds, 100,000 people. A kid makes one, two, three mistakes and he's cost you a football game, and you're always trying to -- in the back of your mind you're trying to get across to your guys that are going to have to make the plays and the guys that are going to be in that, hey, don't be stupid, don't put the ball on the ground.

You take the (2009) Iowa game; we let them block that punt. We fell asleep. I mean, you would have thought we never practiced punting the ball. So I don't know. That doesn't answer your question, I know that.

Q. Brandon Ware is listed at 337. Did he come in the in the kind of shape that you've wanted? I know he's been sort of a little bit in the doghouse in the past because of weight issues, and you've got 13 players over 300. Is there anyone else that when we reported maybe was a little heavy, too heavy?

COACH PATERNO: We had a couple of kids that were too heavy and I wouldn't let them practice until they lost some weight. I won't get into who they are because I don't think that's fair because they've lost the weight. Ware has got other problems. Ware's problems are academic. Ware has been a goof-off academically. But he's straightening himself out a little bit. He's not home-free yet. Ware is not home-free yet. Ware is a guy that can be a really good player. He's about 330 but probably ought to be about 320.

But he knows what he's got to do, but he hasn't done it yet. And it's not necessarily the physical part of it, it's really his -- he's got to do a better job in the classroom.

Q. Have you found a punter yet?

COACH PATERNO: We've got three kids out there punting, and I think we're going to have a punter, but there again, you never know until he goes out there and punts the ball before a lot of people. It's like the kid taking the foul shot; some guys go out here and can't do it. But I think we're going to have a punter. I think we'll be all right. I'm not sure, but they have potential. The three kids all have good leg…a little erratic right now. We'll get them settled down a little bit and a little bit more consistent, and I think we'll probably end up with a decent punter, maybe not a great one but a decent one.

Q. Your Thursday night radio show, I think you said in Chicago you were cutting back on appearing on that. Just curious, what was the reason behind that, and are you cutting back on any other similar responsibilities?

COACH PATERNO: Well, the Thursday night show is a tough show for me because of the fact I've got to come right off the field and go into that radio show. That's always been a problem for me because of the fact that I go in there and -- you know, well, you guys have seen me. If we have a lousy practice and somebody wants to ask me, I feel like telling them, “go jump in the lake.” It's making the adjustment all the time.

And it's a pain in the rear end. I want to get home. I want to start doodling. I want to figure out what we didn't get done so that maybe I can figure out a couple things for the game on Saturday.

So it's really -- annoying is probably not the best way to put it, but it's something that I would really -- when I was in a situation where we had to build up the program a little bit, I figured it was something I had to do. I don't really feel as if I have to do it right now, and I may not be -- I may be overstating that case, but I just don't -- it's not a -- it's a tough thing to come off the practice field on a Thursday and hustle over there and get on the radio, and I didn't like it. You know, and I don't get paid a lot of money. (Laughter.)

You know, I do that; I do the Quarterback Club on Wednesdays; I do a pregame (radio) show. There aren't a lot of coaches that do all those things. I do a show with Steve Jones before the game; I go to Quarterback Club every week and get up and answer questions and the whole bit. So I mean, it wears on you a little bit. I'm anxious to just concentrate on trying to make sure we put everybody -- get the best arrangement we can in order to have the best football team we can have.

Q. Earlier you talked about the linebackers. I know you've only had one practice, but what are you expecting? Is there any way to know what to expect from Michael Mauti this year, and would you expect him to lead the linebacker corps pretty much?

COACH PATERNO: Well, I think Michael Mauti has a chance to be really good. Now, whether he comes off that knee operation, there again, you don't know. He's like Massaro. He had a tough knee operation, and I've got my fingers crossed that he's going to be fine because he is a very, very fine athlete, as is Massaro. You keep your fingers crossed and hope he's going to be okay, because if he's okay, he's pretty darned good.

Q. Without looking past the opener, can you talk about what it's going to be like to take your team to Alabama and walk on that field down there?

COACH PATERNO: You know, I'd be dishonest if I told you I have not looked at tapes of Alabama; I have. It's pretty tough these days not to turn on the television set and see three, four football games every night almost. So I've seen a lot, and I've looked at a lot of Alabama tapes. But I can't rewind it, I can't do some of the things I will do once we get to the week before we play Alabama.

But right now, if you said to me, “how good is the right offensive tackle of Alabama?” I couldn't tell you, not right now.

Q. Talk about going to Alabama and being involved in an Alabama game.

COACH PATERNO: I'm not quite sure what you mean, but I -- Alabama is obviously a very gifted football team, and Nick has done a really good job coaching it. When we get around to it, it's going to be a tough football game.

But you mentioned the fact that we open up with Youngstown. A couple years ago Michigan opened up with -- who did they open up with? (Appalachian State) And they got -- they blocked a punt and got licked -- I mean, blocked a field goal and got licked. So I'm really not -- I'm trying not to get that involved in that. The time will come when I -- it'll be 14, 15 hours a day looking at them, but I have really not given them a lot.

I'm sure the assistant coaches have looked at more than I have.

Q. What's the latest with Stephon Morris? I heard he got shaken up in practice? Is he practicing? Is he out?

COACH PATERNO: Morris wasn't hurt that badly, but we've had some tough injuries. I don't know why. We've got four or five concussions. We are going to keep some people out, and I'm talking about two or three really good players, and I'm not sure -- we're trying -- the medical people and I have spent some time trying to figure out, you know, whether it's the helmet, whether it's some type of blocking. I don't know.

But Morris is going to be all right.

Q. Earlier you were asked about the radio show. You talked about the Quarterback Club and the Saturday pregame show. Do you still plan to do those, the Quarterback Club and the Saturday pregame show?

COACH PATERNO: Well, very few people have the -- let me put it a different way. You know, I've been through it when we didn't have a fan call, but when you go to the Quarterback Club, and I don't know if any of you ever go, more than half of them are women. Really, there's an awful lot of people who have an interest in it, and I feel a little obligated to respond to that. Whether I want to do it every week, I'm not sure anymore.

Q. There's a lot of guys on this team who haven't proved themselves or haven't had a chance to prove themselves yet. As a coach, do you relish those seasons where it's more you're teaching and you might not know what you have, or is it more frustrating than when you have a team come back that has eight or nine seniors starting?

COACH PATERNO: Well, I like the team. And obviously I'm confident in our coaching staff. I think we've got a really big-league coaching staff, and they've done a great job. Somebody had asked me earlier about are they carrying me; yeah, they probably are carrying me. So I'm looking forward to it. I really am. I think we've got a long way to go. I think we've got a tough schedule obviously. We've got to play some good people on the road. And we've got to play some good people, period.

So I think it's -- you know, you like the competition. If you didn't like it, you ought to get out of it. I mean, that's the way I've always felt about it. I've always felt, hey -- when I recruit kids, I tell them, “hey, don't be afraid of competition. If you're afraid of competition, don't even look at us because you'll never get good if you don't play against good people and you'll never get good if you don't practice against good people.” Until somebody knocks you on your rear end, and pardon me ladies, but unless somebody knocks you on your rear end, you're never going to learn. You get knocked on your rear end, you get back up and you figure out, “how did he knock me down?”

So I like the competition; it doesn't bother me. Now whether we're going to be good enough, you know, that's what it's all about. But it certainly doesn't bother me, competition.

Q. What are your concerns with the offensive line?

COACH PATERNO: Well, we're not very good right now, our offensive line. We've got two or three guys that -- three anyway, that are -- that I think can play right now. The others we're going to have to work hard with, and they're going to have to work hard in order to be good enough to handle some of the people we have to play.

Whether they get good enough, that's what we -- so we've got to coach. We've got to go to work and we've got to get a bunch of guys that kind of -- we can get them to come together and feel good about themselves and look forward to being a tough bunch of kids. Right now we're not really tough. I think we've got to get tougher, and I think we will. I don't think it's -- I don't think they know right now how to be tough.

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