Penn State coach Joe Paterno answers questions during his weekly news conference on Tuesday in State College. His Nittany Lions host Illinois on Saturday. Paterno said he didn’t have the ’slightest idea’ of who would start at quarterback on Saturday.AP Photo
He essentially ignored questions about Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. The only people Joe Paterno mentioned when asked about quarterbacks were Paul Jones and Joe Paterno.
“Just so you won’t go without a big headline,” Paterno said Tuesday just as he left his weekly press conference, “I’m gonna start at quarterback.”
Penn State’s 84-year-old coach stonewalled any inquiries about the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback. Other than a remark about the improved progress of Jones – ineligible this season for academic reasons – Paterno did his best to shut down all talk about the position.
Who will start on Saturday against Illinois?
“I haven’t got the slightest idea yet. That’s why we’re practicing.”
What did you see from McGloin – who started and played every snap – last week against Northwestern?
“I thought Matt did a good job.”
“He did a good job.”
Any reason you’re being brief in your answers about the position?
“Well, if you guys wanna talk about it, you can talk all you want. I’m not talking about it,” Paterno said. “I’m not tired of talking about it. I just feel good that we’re in a position (where) we’ve had a couple of quarterbacks, I think, in different situations (who) can help us win a game.
“We only lost one game, and the game we lost had nothing to do with the quarterback play. And the more you look around, the more you see two quarterbacks playing.”
Regardless of who starts against the Fighting Illini, the odds are good that McGloin will see the majority, if not all, of the snaps during the game, as he has for the entire Big Ten schedule.
But it has become coaching staff policy to publicly ignore that fact – along with any statistics, trends or evidence of any kind that favors one quarterback over the other.
After this past week, there are no statistics, trends or evidence of any kind to suggest that it will change any time soon.
Leading off the infirmary report was top wide receiver Derek Moye, who will very likely miss his third straight game because of a broken bone in his left foot.
The senior captain was originally scheduled to return against the Illini, but with the Lions having an open date next Saturday, Moye would get an extra two weeks to heal before a tough closing stretch against Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
“One more week,” Paterno said. “Derek is close, but he hasn’t done anything yet. The doctors think he oughta just take one more week and then we have the off week. He can rest up, test it a little bit and hopefully he’ll be available the week after that. But we’re not even sure of that.”
In the secondary, safety and nickelback Malcolm Willis (shoulder) is expected to return after missing some time in the second half against Northwestern, but the status of cornerback Stephon Morris (undisclosed) is still unknown.
“Well, (Willis) is fine. I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with the other kid (Morris),” Paterno said. “We’ll see. I just don’t know what I’m gonna do with him.”
Morris did not accompany the team to Evanston last weekend. Penn State coaches would only confirm that his absence was not injury-related.
Senior fullback Joe Suhey could return after missing the Northwestern game while recovering from a stinger.
“Suhey is hurt a little,” Paterno said. “When he gets hit, he goes numb. We’re trying to get him through as much as we can so when he plays, he can be more reckless, he won’t have to worry about protecting what he has. But he could play.”
As for his own health, Paterno admitted for the first time that he had some anxiety about returning to the sideline because of his aching right hip and leg.
“I’m not where I want to be – the blazing speed I used to have,” Paterno joked before turning serious. “It’s been tough – it’s a pain in the neck, let me put it that way. … I try to do as much walking as I can in practice, but after a while it gets very, very sore and I have a tough time walking the last half-hour of practice or so.
“And I’m a little nervous. I’d be less than honest (to say otherwise). I’m trying to find where everyone is. I don’t want to get run into again.”
ILLINOIS at PENN STATE
3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC