Lions coach Joe Paterno said he hasn’t given any thought to putting reserves Daryll Clark or Pat Devlin in the Iowa game if first-string QB Anthony Morelli struggles against the Hawkeyes.AP photo
Joe Paterno is sticking by his quarterback. More than that, he’s citing mistakes by other players as the main issue.
Senior quarterback Anthony Morelli came under fire for the second straight week — and second straight loss — after throwing three interceptions and fumbling on a critical fourth-down scramble in Penn State’s final four possessions against Illinois on Saturday.
Penn State lost 27-20 to fall to 0-2 in Big Ten play and out of the Top 25.
“No, I’m not considering a quarterback change,” Paterno said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “I think overall he played well. I think he’s got to get some more help. I think people have got to make some catches in the clutch.
“I think Anthony has to shake off some things. He does a great job. He made one of the great throws you’ll see, prior to the interception down in there. We had a chance to get back in the ballgame. I think that’s the only part about Anthony; that he’s got to just shake that off and go on and make another great play.”
Shake off his interceptions and turnovers and not let them affect his future drives?
“I’m not saying shake off his own mistakes,” Paterno clarified. “He’s got to be able to shake off the fact that sometimes people on the football team don’t do some things they should do.”
Morelli started out hot against the Illini, looking to have put a sub par performance against Michigan the week before (15-of-31, 169 yards, 0 TDs, lost fumble) behind him.
The second-year starter was 9-of-11 for 133 yards and a score at one point, as the Lions traded points with a hot Illinois offense. Things turned near the end of the third quarter when a sure touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless was swatted away by the Illini. Two plays later, an underthrown ball was intercepted near the goal line, and things fell apart after that for Morelli and the Lions.
A similar performance would likely not be received warmly by the Beaver Stadium crowd this Saturday when Penn State hosts Iowa. Not after the Lions were ranked No. 10 in the nation two weeks ago headed into conference play and the Big Ten looked ripe for the taking.
Paterno said that backup Daryll Clark would be ready to play if Morelli went down with an injury, but that he hadn’t given any thought to putting Clark or third-stringer Pat Devlin in the game if Morelli struggles against the Hawkeyes.
“Morelli is our quarterback,” Paterno said. “I wish everybody would just calm down. Morelli is our quarterback. Yeah, sure, he might get banged up. Something may happen. I may decide we’re going to go with something else. But right now, I’m not even thinking about that.”
The Big Ten is considering disciplinary action against Michigan after it was revealed the Wolverines used an academically ineligible player in their first four games of the season, including their 14-9 victory over Penn State on Sept. 22.
According to the Ann Arbor News, the player in question is true freshman Artis Chambers, who enrolled in January and was eligible to play under NCAA rules, but not under a stricter Big Ten regulation. Michigan athletic director Bill Martin took responsibility for the error, though he did not reveal which specific eligibility requirement Chambers failed to meet.
The conference is expected to make a decision in the next three weeks about punishment for the program, including possibly forcing Michigan to forfeit its win against the Lions.
Paterno isn’t concerning himself with the issue.
“I don’t have any interest in it,” Paterno said. “We lost. That’s up to somebody else to make the decision. We had a bunch of kids that went out there, played a bunch of kids from Michigan. … I thought we played a heck of a football game. I thought Michigan played a heck of a football game. They ended up with more points. That’s it. Why do we have to get into all this other stuff for?”
Paterno said that injured senior guard John Shaw “is ready to play” against the Hawkeyes, but that the incumbent starter will have to battle it out this week in practice for the right guard spot, presumably with junior Mike Lucian, who has taken Shaw’s place the past three games.
Second-string linebackers Navorro Bowman (ankle) and Dontey Brown (arm) will not play Saturday, according to Paterno, who said some of the team’s talented true freshmen — Chris Colasanti, Andrew Dailey, Nathan Stupar — may get a chance to see the field.
Iowa at Penn State
3:30 p.m. Saturday
Beaver Stadium at University Park
ON THE WEB
For complete Penn State coverage, read Derek Levarse’s blog at www.timesleader.com