About halfway through Joe Paterno's press conference I came to a startling conclusion: this is an interesting press conference.
I can't tell you what makes Joe's press conferences so uninformative and dull. Maybe it is Joe's conservative nature. He keeps a lot of information close to the vest regardless of the questions. Maybe it is that a lot of the times the reporters ask a question which is a combination of the following: absurd, dumb, repetitive, useless, lacking in imagination, off-topic, or a "follow up". Bleft.
This time, Joe seemed to be in a talkative mood and the reporters managed to raise their game.
Q: Explain how you prepare for guys as talented as Wells and Pryor?
Joe: You can't get anybody that's going to be as good as the guys you're playing against....Pryor's a heck of a competitor. He doesn't look it because he's so smooth and he plays so carefully. The other kid is just now coming off of that injury, and he's back to where he was a year ago. So it's hard to duplicate it. You look around your squad and you say, 'this guy has the best chance to give us the look we need.'
You can't truly prepare for these types of guys. They are unique atheletes with unique skills. Pryor is a physical freak being as big, tall, and fast as he is. Wells may be one of the best backs in the nation. Certainly a thrilling combination of power and speed.
Q: Kevin Kelly is good at kicking and makes you happy, right?
Joe: I think our kicking game has been good, and I think obviously Kevin has been a big part of that. He's a fine kicker, and I think he's feeling really good about himself. It'll probably come down, this coming Saturday, to something with the kicking game. It will have a lot to do with the outcome of the game.
This is part of the Paterno genius peeking out. Joe knows this will be a close game. Every point will count. Ohio State's defense is very good, which means that when the offense sputters out it is important for Kelly to insure that each drive yields points.
Q: How are you feeling, Joe?
Joe: If we've got a choice of who is better health wise, Scirrotto and Paterno, let's get Scirrotto out there. Yeah, it's one of those things. Next week, when we get the open week, I'll let some people look at it and then we'll make some decisions.
Typical Joe. I think he will be up in the booth for this week's game in the Horseshoe and for the rest of the year. The man is probably going to require surgery after the season. However, Joe remains in good spirits and will be fine after he gets patched up.
Q: What is the deal with the LBs and what adjustments will you make after Michigan?
Joe: They were playing all right. (Navorro) Bowman was doing well, and so was (Tyrell) Sales. Sales probably had six, seven, eight tackles in that game. Our problem was the down lineman. The down lineman had problems because of the pace of the game. They were on us were and we weren't quite ready for that. Once we got that thing settled down and got some people a little bit better and adjusted to the blocking schemes and stuff like that, then it made that a little bit easier for the linebackers because they didn't have people on top of them right away.
GWAH? It looked to me that the LBs were out of position or were flat-out run over early in the game. However, Joe has looked at the tape and has forgotten more football than I could ever know. As such, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Q: Seriously, who is playing Pryor on the Scout team?
JOE: We have a walk on kid, (M(a)tthew) McGloin. And then the other Mauti (Patrick) will play some, and then there's another kid who will play. It will vary depending on the kind of play they have. So whatever play they're going to show, they would have ability close enough but not better than the guy they're going to imitate.
This is high praise for the athleticism of these two kids. Lets hope they get the defense ready for the speed of the game they are going to face on Saturday.
I LOVE PENN STATE FOOTBALL!
GO STATE! BEAT THE BUCKEYES!