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Paterno: Put loss on my shoulders

To critics of players and aides, coach says he’s responsible for all decisions in games.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno says he’s undecided if Austin Scott or Rodney Kinlaw will be his starting tailback on Saturday against Illinois.

AP photo

Penn State fans are angry.

The verdict after the Nittany Lions’ 14-9 loss to Michigan on Saturday was a harsh one in the court of public opinion, with criticism being leveled on a number of people from quarterback Anthony Morelli to tailback Austin Scott to play-callers Jay Paterno and Galen Hall.

On Tuesday, Joe Paterno shared where he thought blame should lie.

“When you lose a game like that, you can only point the finger at one person — you’ve got to point it at the head coach,” Paterno said at his weekly press conference. “There were plays could have been made there, decisions could have been made, so forth, even in preparation for the game.

“People like to be critical of this coach, this assistant coach, that assistant coach. None of those things go on without my OK. I mean, it isn’t as if I’m (just) standing out there.”

Paterno spent the majority of the 30-minute session downplaying questions about his offense, which totaled nine points and 270 total yards against a Wolverines defense that had surrendered 73 points and 1,011 yards in opening losses to Appalachian State and Oregon.

Specific points of debate were Morelli (15-of-31, 169 yards) and Scott (35 yards), both of whom coughed up a critical fumble.

On Morelli:

“I think Anthony did well enough,” Paterno said. “I think the one big mistake he made, obviously, was when he fumbled the ball in our territory. But I think overall he did a solid job. Again, maybe at the end of the game, we didn’t have much time left, we were trying to get that ball up the field in a hurry and he had to run around for his life. Other than that, I think he did a good job.”

On Scott and whether fellow fifth-year senior Rodney Kinlaw would be starting instead in light of Scott’s problems holding on to the ball:

“I think we’ll just play the game out this week and see what happens. I think Scott’s been trying – he’s been very conscientious about wanting to overcome the fact that he’s put the ball on the ground a couple of times. I hate to give up on him. He’s been a good kid, he’s worked hard. He’s been patient. I think he deserves every chance we can give him to prove that he belongs in there.”

And finally on the offensive game plan:

“Some people said to me, ‘Why didn’t you throw it more?’ We threw the ball 50 percent of the time. I think we threw it 30, 31 times. I think we had 61, 62 total offensive plays. I don’t think that was our problem.

“Our problem was more the fact the field position was so bad that you had to be careful. I think we started once in Michigan’s territory, at the 35-yard line. We started seven or eight times from our 20 or inside our 20 out of the 10 or 12 times we had it.”

Paterno said he hadn’t really entertained the thought of sitting Morelli down in favor of Daryll Clark or Pat Devlin, but Scott didn’t escape that fate. His fumble deep in Michigan territory in the second half escorted him to the sideline for the remainder of the game, as Kinlaw and Evan Royster got the rest of the carries.

On this week’s depth chart, Penn State has “Austin Scott OR Rodney Kinlaw” listed at first-team tailback.

Time of mourning

Following the loss to Michigan, Paterno said he was anxious to see how his players would react in practice on Monday and how the team leaders would step up to get the squad focused again.

But the family suffered a loss last week when Paterno’s mother-in-law, Alma Pohland, died at the age of 92 at her home in Latrobe. The funeral was held Monday, so the 80-year-old coach missed most of the day’s practice.

“The coaches ran most of the practice. … We practiced about an hour and five minutes, but I only saw the last 30, 35 minutes. It’s hard for me to tell (how the players were). I didn’t even meet with them. I met with them quickly after practice was over on the field and said, ‘Hey, we’ll talk tomorrow.’ I’m going to meet with them (Tuesday) afternoon before we go to practice and I’ll have a little better feel then.”

Infirmary report

For the second consecutive week, safety Tony Davis (shoulder) and guard John Shaw (knee) are listed as probable on the injury report.

Davis played most of the game against Michigan, but split time with Mark Rubin. Shaw sat out his second consecutive game.

“If Tony is healthy, Tony is a first-stringer,” Paterno said. “He didn’t practice much last week. He wasn’t really ready to go a lot, so we used Rubin quite a bit. Rubin is a good football player.”

Paterno said he didn’t know when Shaw would be able to return.


No. 21 Penn State at Illinois

noon, Saturday, Memorial Stadium

TV: Big Ten Network


For more Penn State coverage, read Derek Levarse’s blog at www.timesleader.com

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