werGlen Mason's General Comments
"Thanks for coming. I'll just recap last week's game as I always do, at least the way I saw it. I was pleased with our performance. Most notably I thought that we were more intense in our approach to the game. We started fast offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. I thought we tackled better. I wasn't pleased that we gave up two touchdown passes that we really had the right coverage on for but didn't play them very well. We had some foolish penalties on offense. We had two delay of game penalties which are inexcusable and we had a foolish penalty in the kicking game which cost us a big kick off return. Once again, on a positive note, the way the game went allowed us to play a lot of players.
"This week it's Penn State, the Nittany Lions. They sit 2-2. They have victories versus Temple and Kent State, my old school, and they lost to Boston College and they lost to Nebraska. I really think their record is somewhat misleading. Boston College I think is a pretty darn good football team, and they got out ahead of them pretty early. They lost that game and Nebraska, which is a tough place to play. They had the ball down by five, driving at the end of the game and got to midfield and they had a center-quarterback exchange problem. But they have good talent. I've been asked a number of times since our last game about Penn State being down in talent. I don't know if they're down in talent or not, but they've got good talent. Compared to what? You'd have to look at the Big Ten's media release that they have two guys, Capone and Wake, that are Butkus finalists. They have Mills, who is a candidate for the O'Brien award and the Walter Camp award. They have Gould for the Groza award. Plus they've got a legendary coach in their head coach, Joe Paterno, whom I've got the utmost respect for. He'll be coaching his 600th game. That's unbelievable - six-hundredth game as an assistant coach and head coach at Penn State. He's got a very experienced staff. As always, Penn State has tough kids that play extremely hard. They've got a great tradition. They'll have 107,000-plus people there in their refurbished stadium. They've done even more work on it since the last time we've been there.
"So needless to say, it's a great challenge. I'm confident that our players and our coaching staff will work extremely hard to prepare for this game. We must be better than we've been in the previous four. But even though it's a challenge, we're looking forward to going to State College on Friday to play on Saturday."
Question: Do you see yourself coaching into your 70s?
"I think most of us can't fathom still doing what Coach Paterno does at age 76. I think that's how old he is. But in saying that, I've had an opportunity to be around him, and I've been around a lot of 76-year old people and he's not your typical 76-year old guy. But I guess to answer your question, I think he really, really, really enjoys it. He loves it. I think he's got to probably an amiable stage in his career - what does he have to prove? Let's face it - Joe Paterno is Penn State. To think what has happened to Penn State football, they used to have a 30,000-seat stadium in the middle of campus and now they have107,000-plus where they are. They've gone from a team that basically played in the east and are now a national power. I hope he coaches for a long, long time. He an asset to college football."
Question: Penn State took some heavy loses on their line. Watching them on film, is it more about those guys being young than it is talent?
"I don't know what the ages of all those guys are. I don't really care. But I look on the film and I keep hearing their people say they are a young football team. But they are a talented football team. They've got good, rangy athletes on defense. They've given up some yards, but they've played two really good rushing football teams and powerful teams - big, strong offensive lines in Boston College and Nebraska. Nebraska invented the rush. So I think some of the statistics you're seeing there have to do with some things with the people they've played against."
Question: Do you anticipate opening up the offense a little more in terms of formations?
"Well, we've got the ability to open things up. I don't know if I anticipate it or not. I didn't anticipate it against our first four opponents; it's just kind of how things went during the game. Let's face it, if you can't stop the run, we're probably going to just run. That's okay with me. I think it's a thing of beauty, I don't think it's boring. But I'm also realistic to know that the people that we face come Saturday, I don't think we'll be able to do those things."
Question: Do you think another win at Penn State like the last one will be as big of a deal?
"I probably haven't made as big a thing as maybe I should because games go on. You win or lose a game and then you have to go play another one. If you keep hanging your hat on one game in the past, that's a big, big mistake."
Question: Is Penn State's atmosphere comparable to Michigan?
"Oh no. It's tougher than Michigan. It's not as tough as Ohio State, but it's tougher than Michigan. It's louder. And I have to say that because they've added on since the last time we were there. So maybe it's tougher. But the way they built that stadium, much like Ohio State when they reconfigured that. The last time we played there, they didn't have the skyboxes in and only one end zone was double-decked. Now they have the other one double-decked. I look forward to going to those places. Why? I don't know, but I do. I really am looking forward to Saturday."
Question: How confident are you in the receiving game if you do have to open up the offense?
"I think our receives have played better than I would have anticipated. And I base that on their performance in spring practice. I think that they've done a good job and I'm confident that they'll be able to continue to perform the way they have."
Question: How do you keep one of the running backs from being lost in the shuffle or don't you worry about that?
"The best way that you do that is the word team. They've got to buy into team. There are a lot of challenges within the sport of football. If you're really going to have a good season and a good team, it's not just the running backs, but you can't have the wide receivers worried about who's catching the ball or the tight ends worrying about who's catching the ball. Or when the running game is going good, the receiving corps is wondering why we are not throwing it or the quarterback worrying about those things, or vice versa. So, I think that's the case. I don't think it's my job to worry about keeping them happy. I've always viewed my job, of course I keep in mind what's good for the individual, but I also keep in mind what's good for the team. And the team has to supersede the individual."
"That's one of the things that has amazed me. I think we have good chemistry on our team - I've said I like my team. Now what does that mean? I mean I like being around them. I don't know if they like being around me or not, but I like being around them. They are good kids that have worked hard. Early when things are going really well in the non-conference schedule and we start substituting backs and all of a sudden you put (Laurence) Maroney in there and you see those other three guys, the upperclassmen, cheering them on, I mean that's what it's about. And I'll tell you why they cheered him on, I think. It's because he paid the price in two-a-day practices. He's a like a stunt man. We were trying to keep those guys healthy, so every time it was live work, Tapeh, Barber and Jackson went to the sidelines and in came Maroney, and he took the beatings so he had the opportunity to show what he was worth."
Question: How much do you worry about distributing carries?
"I don't worry about that. It's about team. At the end of the day if we win, I really think that I ought to be happy and they ought to be happy. Who cares if a guy gains 400 yards rushing and you lose? Or you say we had four running backs that rushed for 80 yards apiece but we lost? I think we're losing sight of that. I'm not, I guarantee that."
Question: How does it help keep them healthy?
"I think you see some equal distribution. That's the way the games have gone. I don't think they're all four equal. I'm not going to go through ranking them for you. A lot of the things I do are very simplistic. I'm always asking my coaches which running back they would pick first. They're going to pick the one they think is the best, but if things aren't going well for him and you think that the number two pick is pretty good, well then let the number two pick in there and so on and so forth. But we're going to do some things. Like I said before, there's going to be more than one back that plays. And again, a lot of the talk has been about carrying the ball, but you haven't noticed the job that Thomas Tapeh has been doing blocking. I can tell you this, we've had more pro scouts come and stay the entire practice than we ever have before. And I was asking one of the guys, and he said he was really interested in 44 because of the way he's blocking. That type of guy is hard to find at the next level."
Question: Talk about playing Penn State's two completely different quarterbacks.
"I don't think they're really that different. If you've heard Coach Paterno talk, he says Mills is a good thrower and Robinson is a good runner. But let me tell you something, they are both good runners. I think Robinson is a better runner, but they both have the ability to run the football pretty well. And Robinson can throw the ball. He's just not as consistent as you might like right now. But sometimes you see him throw a pass and you say, now there is a big-time arm. He's got a good arm. So our approach, and I think most people's approach, is you defend the system. I'm sure that Coach Paterno is getting the question today about if Barber, Tapeh, Jackson or Maroney is in the game, are you defending them differently? And I think he would say that they're running the same plays. And I think that's the case for us dealing with their two quarterbacks."
Question: The team hasn't been behind an opponent all season, and this week it looks like they are in for more adversity. Are you anxious to see how they perform under that?
"No, I'd rather not have to experience that to be honest with you. I'd rather play the other way. I think you're wrong if you don't approach every team expecting success, but being ready for adversity. Because more often than not, you're going to find yourself behind the eight ball, and what are you going to do with it? The game is long. It's a 60-minute game. It's not who is ahead at the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter. It's about who is ahead at the end of the game. That's an advantage you have when you are a more experienced team. Last year I thought we were really young and we're still pretty young. We don't have many seniors on the team, but compared to last year we are seasoned. Last year, we play a redshirt freshman and we think he's a vet. That's not really the case."