Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma may not be bringing their baggage on the road this weekend.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno said he hadn’t made any decisions about the suspensions of the two starting defensive linemen at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“Well, there are circumstances involved with this which I can’t really get into, and I don’t want to get into,” Paterno said. “There are four people with exactly the same involvement. So I’m just trying to wait until I get this thing straightened out, and then we’ll see what happens.
“So as far as whether the other kids are going to play or not, I’m going to play it day-by-day for awhile.”
Paterno had announced last Thursday that Evans, Koroma and Andrew Quarless would sit out last week’s game against Oregon State – this coming after police seized a “small amount” of marijuana from their apartment on the night of Sept. 2. No charges have yet been filed in relation to the incident.
Evans and Koroma were not at the stadium on Saturday. Quarless was, however, suiting up and participating in warm-ups, though not seeing any snaps.
Cornerback A.J. Wallace, the fourth listed resident of the apartment, was not benched and was also in uniform against the Beavers. But his only significant snaps came with the kick return unit, as Drew Astorino replaced him in the nickel package until the game was well in hand.
The No. 17 Nittany Lions travel to New York for a 3:30 p.m. game with former Eastern rival Syracuse on Saturday.
Jerome Hayes and Jared Odrick had replaced Evans and Koroma, respectively, as starters against Oregon State. Hayes is now gone for the season with his second torn ACL in as many years.
Sophomore Aaron Maybin, who leads the team in sacks with three, would likely start in Evans’ spot if he doesn’t make the trip.
With six defensive linemen from last year’s team currently unavailable, the Penn State coaches have had to experiment a bit to help create depth up front. True freshman Jack Crawford – a natural end – has played at tackle the first two weeks.
More tinkering could be on the way.
“Well, we’re looking at the possibility,” Paterno said. “We’re still making some plans. We may move somebody over there. But we have a couple of pretty good kids that can play. So I’m not in a hurry to make a move, but we may. I’m being a little evasive, because I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”
With old rivals Penn State and Syracuse meeting up for the first time in 18 years, the conversation Tuesday inevitably shifted to Paterno’s attempts in the late 80s to create an all-sports conference in the East.
To this day, Paterno says the sticking point was Pitt’s decision not to go with his plan.
“That was a big disappointment,” Paterno said. “…But if Pitt had said yes, I would have gotten it. Bill Flynn at Boston College was fighting it. But, if I could have gotten West Virginia and Syracuse and Pitt to come in, we would have had a good deal. But it didn’t work.
“Can’t look back and cry. I just get sick and tired of people saying, ‘Why didn’t you (schedule) this team?’ Some things are impossible at certain times.”
Though the Lions have gone home-and-home in recent years with Boston College and now Syracuse, Paterno maintains that renewing a series with Pitt would require the Panthers to accept terms favorable to Penn State. The teams haven’t met since 2000.
“We’d play Pitt if we could get them to come up here a couple of times,” Paterno said. “For one, we’d do the same thing with Syracuse. But we need seven home games, and it’s tough to do if you’ve got to play home-and-home with everybody.”