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September 12, 2009* Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno wasn't overly happy or unhappy with his Nittany Lions this afternoon with their 28-7 win against Syracuse. Find out what his thoughts were about the game, right here!
Was the lack of production in the running game of the things you guys were doing or not doing or was it the result of [Syracuse]?
Paterno: Well there it is again. They (Syracuse) put that extra guy in there. He must've made eight, nine tackles it seemed like in the first half. There were a couple times I thought we were going to have a pretty good play and he came up and smacked us and kept us to a three- or four-yard gain.
When they're playing the safeties that tight you have to throw the football and we probably didn't throw it enough. I thought we did a little better job in blocking and I think we'll continue to improve. It's tough when you got that many guys in the box and stunning the ball so much, but we obviously got to do a better job.
You said you can see a lot of improvement between Games 1 and 2, what did you think of your team?
Paterno: I think we played most of the game well. I thought our defense was hustling to the ball and put a lot of pressure on the ball against a kid (Quarterback Greg Paulus) who I think will be a heckuva quarterback when he gets a couple of games under his belt. He's got good feet and quick hands. I thought overall we played better, but I think we still have a ways to go. I think we showed some improvement, whether we showed enough I won't know until I look at some tapes.
Are you a little concerned about your short-yardage plays?
Paterno: Oh yeah I am at the goal line. I don't think we were very good on the goal line.
Last week you scored a lot while spread out, this week you were bunched up, why the difference?
Paterno: I think we are trying to get something done each week. It's a long season and we spent a lot of time on our goal line offense and defense this week. Not an awful lot, but more time this week with the idea that you're going to just have to knock it in. We didn't do it [today] we've got work to do. Whether we'll ever get really good inside there I don't know yet. If we want to run, we've got to better than that. Particularly the one we ran on the one-yard line.
Daryll Clark fumbles at the goal line; do you feel like your team is crisp and sharp, are you working on things consistency-wise?
Paterno: That wasn't Clark's fumble, it was the exchange. I think we have to be careful not to underestimate the opponent. I think they did a good job down there on the goal line and they did a terrific job. We couldn't get underneath them. I think the fumble down there was just a question of a little frustration on the part of Wisniewski to get that guy in the crack. I don't think it was a fumble it was a question of it being a good hand off. I mean, it was a fumble, but it's not like he ran with it and dropped it. I keep telling you, we have to get better. We made some plays. We could've gone and thrown the ball on every play if we wanted to but that's not going to get us where I want to be. I think we have to make sure we come out of each game at least progressing in some areas and be as strong as we have to be.
Sean Lee's second game looked like he was all over the field today, how do you assess his play?
Paterno: I don't know what more I can say. I think he's a great player. He reminds me very much of Ham, I think Ham was a step faster, but Sean's in the same league. Ham's in the pro Hall of Fame. I think he's a heck of a football player and he plays every down and he sets an example for everyone out there. I thought [Josh] Hull played a great game, too, today. He was solid.
Is Navorro Bowman getting any closer health-wise to playing?
Paterno: He says he's feeling better, I don't know if he'll be better for the [Temple] game. I think it'll be close. If he's not 100 percent I don't think it's fair to stick him in there. Where he plays in the middle, there's an awful lot of people coming I think when he feels good and the doctor says he's OK we can put him in a couple good days of practice to test it and go from there. Right now, he couldn't have played today.
Could you talk about the effect of Royster as a wide out today?
Paterno: Royster is can do it all. He's a heck of an athlete. We can put him in motion to keep the safety from sticking his nose up in everything and we got everything we wanted from him out there today. There again, we're trying to do a lot of different things so we'll have different things ready for when we need them. I think we put him out there once.
Two weeks in a row you started quick with a touchdown on the opening drive, how do you get the offense to sustain that throughout the rest of the game?
Paterno: We made a big play on a third down to keep the drive alive. It took us out of the hole, and from there on out, the Syracuse kids were just a bit unsure of what we were doing. They have some good athletes on that team, they're lean and they can run. I was impressed with them and how hard they hit. They are a good aggressive football team; I think that's going to be a good football team. That doesn't answer the question, we didn't do some things all day that we'd like to do, but we did them when we had to. We scored in the second half when we had to; I think the defense had a couple of great series. Nobody's mentioned [Jeremy Boone]; I thought he had a great day. The kicking game, I was scared to death of before this game. Then they had lousy field position, and they run a nice kick off and we have a young kid that lets them break the containment. That's the same kid that ran back a 70-yard punt back against Minnesota.
Can you comment on the overall play of the defense and also do you think the secondary has been tested enough so far?
Paterno: I don't think anything is established yet. I think we've played well enough to win two games, that's all I know. I think we have to get better. How much better? I don't know. So we got to get better, I don't know what I can tell you guys. I got to look at some tapes and talk to people, the staff about it.
With the Big Ten opener [against Iowa] a couple weeks away, are you trying to build the offense up to running and passing the ball effectively?
Paterno: I'm just trying to have a balanced football team, both on offense and defense as well as our kicking game. I think our coverage has to be better on our kicking game. I think we're getting better everyday in all areas in practice. When we get into a really tough football game, it's going to come down to one or two plays, you can only make them in the game. You think we'd do a better job in the turnover game but we're not forcing the ball to be turned over. We're not as good as the defense and secondary needs to be.
You worked in [Quinn] Barham and [Johnnie] Troutman in place of [Matt] Stankewitch and [Lou] Eliades] are those two spots still up for grabs?
Paterno: Yeah, I think so because we just have to be more consistent in everything we do. Eliades had those two bad plays, so let's give the other guy a shot. Troutman's worked hard, he's a big, strong kid and we he could handle the linebacker, so we gave Troutman a shot and I'm going to continue to do that. Some of these young kids are going to eventually have to help us.
You had Lenny Moore and the rest of the 1959 team here today, can you talk about how those teams, before you came over, meant to the history of Penn State Football?
Paterno: Well Lenny Moore is probably the best player I've ever coached, all around. He could've been a great wide out, defensive back, running back, he was a super athlete. We had some great games in 1959, we were undefeated and Syracuse was undefeated and we lose to them 20-18, we went for two points and didn't make it. They ended up going to Texas and beating Texas and winning the national championship. We went to the first Liberty Bowl beat a good Alabama team that next year won the national championship. One of [Bear] Bryant's teams, beat them 7-0. Those guys were solid, people forget about Milt Plum, sometimes people think there wasn't any football here until I came.
In 1947, they had one of the best teams in the country, went to the Cotton Bowl and had a 14-, 15-game winning streak, went down there against Doak Walker [of Southern Methodist] and Wally Triplett was the first African-American drafted in the NFL was on that 1947 team. So there's been a great football history going way back.
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