At the weekly Joe Paterno press conference, the questions came fast and hard about the Alabama loss, and Joe even seemed uncharacteristically willing to deal with them. The only thing was that without even quoting Shakespeare this time, the venerable Head Lion was semi-inscrutable.
About Chima Okoli’s injury:
As I said, we’ve only practiced the one day. And yesterday was just to try to get an understanding of what happened to us against Alabama, to try to correct some mistakes. We really have not talked about who is going to play and exactly what we’re going to do. We spent this morning doing that.
And we’ll go out this afternoon to see what some people are ready to do. So that’s a tough question for me to answer right now and know what I’m talking about, because I couldn’t give you an honest answer on that.
About the quarterback controversy:
I think we’ve made a decision up to a point that we want to play both of them (Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin) for a while until we find out exactly which one we think might be better for the football team and help them win.
But, right now, I think it’s a toss up. I think both of them are doing well. There again, I think I said after the ballgame I’m reluctant to have people start blaming it on the quarterback. I mean, I think we’re just not making plays.
We started that ballgame (Alabama) where we had a chance to make some big plays, a couple in the end zone, one of which would have been a tough catch, but the other one should have been an easy catch going down the sideline for touchdown.
We just didn’t it’s easy to pick out somebody and blame him, particularly the quarterback, because it’s such a predominant person. The ball comes to them and they do something with it.
But I think both quarterbacks have played well enough for us to win with. And I’m reluctant right now to tell anybody, “hey, we’re going to start this guy,” because it would look like as if I’m, like the other guy didn’t play well. I thought they both did a pretty good job, really.
I think we have to help them. I think some guys on the team have got to make some plays. We’re the same way; we go in the ballgame, second year in a row we played that football team without [forcing] a turnover. And a year ago we had four or five and we had three turnovers in this one.
When you get in a tough football game against a good team, you’re in a uphill battle all the time. So anyway that’s one of my typical long answers to a simple question. We’ve got two quarterbacks. And as we talk now, whether we have two quarterbacks a week from now, we’re going to we’ll see.
About coaching from the booth instead of the field, and the timeout debacle (and everything else but the kitchen sink):
The timeouts, that goes back to the confusion on the sideline goes back to the fact that, again, you think your kids understand certain things.
Two kids got hurt and they didn’t know whether to go down, come in, come out. They come out of the game late. And in order for us to save ourselves five yards we had to call a timeout on the sideline. I think that we’ve got to do a better job, obviously, of making the kids more game aware so that when that happens – you’re hurt, sit down, stay there until we make a substitution for you. We’re allowed to do that. We don’t want you to be phony about the substitution, but we had kids who were half off the field, back on the field, back out. And the guys on the sidelines weren’t sure what exactly was going on. And finally we ran out of time.
So I think we’re all right there. There again, that’s an obvious thing. Here you go in the first quarter, you take three timeouts. I’m angry. I’m angry upstairs. I didn’t know exactly what had happened either. I’m yelling down at them [coaches on the field], “you guys going to make up your mind what you want to do?” And then, of course, after I had a chance to talk to some of the guys, I found out that the kids were the guys who created the problem.
So I think we’re all right that way. I don’t think that’s a problem. We’ve got to catch the ball and we’ve got to make some things happen on defense in a tough ballgame. We just haven’t done that. It’s as simple as that.
Now, why we haven’t done it, obviously you’ve got to take a look at yourself and say, “hey, maybe there’s something I as a head coach have to do a little differently.” I don’t know. But we can’t expect to win consistently when you don’t get a turnover on defense.
I guess we were almost last in the country last year in the turnover ratio, and we were allowing too many on the other side of the equation. So that’s where we are.
About how the front seven performed and what they’ll have to do to stop Temple’s running back:
I thought we played well on defense most of the time, except for the fact that we didn’t come up with a couple of interceptions.
The only time I was disappointed in the way we played defense was when they scored the last touchdown. It looked like a couple of guys got a little bit discouraged and nobody rose to the occasion to make a play.
But I think overall the down guys played fairly well. I mean, better than fairly well. I don’t think we got blown off the board, what have you.
They have a couple of fine running backs. I think the one kid ran for, had the ball about 25 times, ran it for about 115, 120 yards. I thought and most of that came towards the end in there. So I would disagree with you, Joe, on your evaluation, if I understand what you’re saying.
And I thought that part was fine. Did we come up with an interception? We had a chance for one, on the third down and 12. We had a chance to get the interception. We didn’t come up with the ball. They took it in there.
So things like that that we have got to do better. We’ve got to change the game around on defense once in a while. That part I think is a legitimate criticism.
I don’t see anything specific in there about how the linebackers played and I see no reference at all to Temple’s running back.