With no game on Saturday, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno did not hold his weekly press conference at Beaver Stadium, but did appear on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday afternoon.
Paterno shouldered the blame for Penn State's loss to Illinois on Saturday.
Here is the transcript.
Q: Joe, I was wondering if you could update some of the injuries, you had some defensive players leave the game against Illinois. Also, was there one or two areas in particular that disappointed you in the Illinois game.
Joe Paterno: I'll answer the second part first, I think overall we were poor. I don't think I did a very good job coaching and getting them ready for the game, to be frank with you. We just weren't on top of some things, maybe there were a couple of adjustments that we could have made.
The injury thing, it gets worse - [Jack] Crawford's out, [Garry] Gilliam is out, [Eric] Latimore went out, and most of the people you saw leave the game are gone. They won't be ready for Minnesota.
Q: Coach, is it a goal of yours to get to 400 victories?
Joe Paterno: Not right now [laughs], right now it's to get a victory. No, I haven't thought of that.
Q: Hi Joe, a couple of players said after the game on Saturday that a couple players needed to stop pointing fingers. How much does that bother you and detract from what you guys are trying to accomplish?
Joe Paterno: I think anytime you start pointing fingers… it certainly doesn't help. I'm not sure how much of that we're having, as you know I very rarely read the papers, particularly the sports page. I don't want to be influenced by anything. If there is a lot of finger pointing, I think that's certainly detrimental, it doesn't help. I hope there isn't maybe as much as some of the guys would react to after a tough, not a tough loss, but after a situation that we had against Illinois. We really just got outplayed. I don't know how accurate that is, but if it is, it's certainly something that we've got to address this week.
Q: Also, you had mentioned several times early in the season about leaders being slow in emerging, is that still the case or have some guys stepped forward, especially since Saturday?
Joe Paterno: We had some guys that we thought might step to the front have gotten injured. This is probably, in fact I was talking to our medical people that have been with us for a long time, said this is the worst situation in the 24 years since they've been here. I think that's been a big problem, you just get used to playing with a guy and all of a sudden he's out, and you've got to bring somebody else in who hasn't had quite enough experience, if he can be a leader, number one, and number two, the people who have played some are just having trouble figuring how just how hard they can push them. It's the same way with the coaching staff, we've got to be careful that we don't ask kids to do things that we're really not quite ready for. We've got a situation that is going to doing to get it straightened out, so I don't know if that answers your question, that's about the best I can do.
Q: Coach, some fans have been critical of you and the coaching staff for the team's recent performance. A number have called into a local radio show and a couple of columnists have written that it might be time for you to step down. I guess I'm wondering what message you would send to those fans, especially those who think that it's time for a coaching change?
Joe Paterno: I haven't got time to even think about that. I'm just trying to get our team a little better.
Q: If I may follow up, do you think that criticism is fair?
Joe Paterno: I don't even know kind of criticism it is. Send me a detailed list of it and I'll tell you. I just don't… I don't read and I certainly don't listen to any of the commentators on the radio, I don't even listen to ESPN, which I probably should because a lot of times they're very constructive.
Q: Joe, I just wanted to clarify, are any of the injuries to the defensive players season ending, and any guys that won't be back this season?
Joe Paterno: We've got three or four that definitely won't walk, going back to Drake, starting out with Drake, Hodges, Gilliam now will be out, I don't know how long Laitmore will be out, he just got hurt, he only played two or three plays Saturday against Illinois. He's been in and out. I really think that's a medical situation. Probably I should get Jeff Nelson to have the medical people make some kind of release as to what the status is to each of the guys. As far as I'm concerned, the less we talk about it, the more I like it. [There's] nothing I can do about it. I'm trying to take care of some things that maybe we can do something about and make ourselves… We've got to overcome them, we can't be sitting around moaning about it all the time. People ask me, I didn't bring it up, I just don't have time to spend saying 'this guy's got a hairline fracture, this guy's got that, this guy's got that.' I ask the doc, 'how long's it going to be?' They try to give me as accurate of an answer as they can, sometimes they're not sure. So I think maybe the better way to handle all of that stuff would be to have some kind of a release from Jeff Nelson's office.
Q: Joe, I hate to ask you, but I understand that Nick Sukay won't be back this year…
Joe Paterno: That's exactly right, I forgot about Nick. Nick's out for the year.
Q: Coach, you have a lot of young players you rely on, is there a concern for maybe their morale or where their heads are at after a couple of back-to-back losses? Is there anything you can do in the bye week to maybe make sure...
Joe Paterno: We've got to do something to help them. I have not talked to the kids since the game. We gave them Sunday and yesterday off. We'll meet today, this afternoon, and we'll go out with just shells and try to go over some of the mistakes that we made, to get refocused on what we've got to do to get better. Because I thought after we'd played 4-5 games we'd be a little better football team than we are right now. As I said earlier, I can't be blaming anybody but myself for that. So I think, that's where we are. We've got to be encouraging, and we've got to get some of these kids to realize that they still have the potential I've felt we've had. We've been set back by some things that we can't control, we've talked about their injuries. We've just got to go out and say, 'hey, this is what we need to get better. Let's recommit ourselves to getting better,' and see where we go.
Q: Coach, you and [Tom] Bradley and Jay [Paterno] all said after the game that you all would be re-evaluating personnel. Does that mean, coach, that there are a lot of jobs open over the next week or two? And especially, are there jobs open in competition on the offensive line that we could see new starters?
Joe Paterno: As I said, sometimes we make statements after the game is over before we have a chance to look at some tapes, and have a chance as a staff to compare performances and things like that. I think the offensive line is getting a little bit more criticism than they deserve. We certainly didn't dominate the line of scrimmage, but we didn't dominate anything. We didn't dominate the defense, they almost had 450 yards against us. So we've got a lot of work to do going along the line. Part of it, obviously, without getting into alibis again, we've got a little different cast of characters every week because of injuries. I forgot to mention Sukay. Sukay was coming on, probably was leading our team in interceptions and all of a sudden he gets a bump and it's a serious one. It didn't look like it was that serious, but he's out for the year. I think they're going to operate on the area that was affected. So we've got a job to do, period. And it's doable, but it's going to take a lot of commitment by a lot of people.
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