Paterno toughens up Penn St. practice
It’s tough love time at Penn State.
Increase the intensity at practice, coach Joe Paterno has told
his 23rd-ranked Nittany Lions. Be more aggressive. Show younger
players the hard work it takes to win.
Looks like the message has sunk in.
”If you don’t perform, then you won’t start. We didn’t perform
well a couple games,” cornerback D’Anton Lynn said Tuesday. ”So
that starts in practice. If you don’t perform in practice …
they’re definitely not hesitating to switch your spot.”
Paterno began turning up the heat last week, unhappy after the
21-point loss at top-ranked Alabama. The team responded Saturday
with a 24-0 shutout – albeit sloppy, at times – of Kent State.
After the game, some players relayed how coaches told them in
practice jobs were on the line if play didn’t improve. Others
talked about more spirited practices.
”I think some of the guys you talked to were dreaming,”
Paterno joked to a reporter at Beaver Stadium. ”We only put full
pads on them once, but we put the shoulder pads on them, and we
were a little bit more aggresssive.”
Don’t expect a change this week as the Nittany Lions get ready
for Temple on Saturday.
”We’ll be pretty close to a normal week, but much more
demanding in the sense that you can’t go tough two plays and take
one off … (we’ve) got to get away from that,” Paterno said.
”We’ll get better.”
Minor injuries may have played a role in some noticeable lineup
changes. Ends Jack Crawford (hip) and Eric Latimore, who had an
undisclosed injury, are both still listed as starters despite not
starting Saturday, when Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley each made
their first career starts.
Better pass rush has been a point of emphasis recently, and the
pressure improved against Kent State – including a sack by
Paterno said safety Drew Astorino’s surgically repaired left
shoulder has been bothering him again of late, so he’s been limited
in practice. Backup Andrew Dailey played most of the Kent State
game in the base defense, with Astorino subbing on passing downs –
though defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has also said assistants
had been upset with Astorino on a missed tackle.
No position has been analyzed more in recent weeks than
tailback, where star Evan Royster has just 110 yards and a
touchdown on 31 carries over three games. It’s a disappointing
start for a senior just 371 yards shy of the school career rushing
record of 3,398 held by Curt Warner for nearly three decades.
In the second half against Kent State, Stephfon Green carried
the load during a third-quarter drive that stabilized a struggling
offense leading 14-0. Royster had just four yards on three carries
Paterno said he thought the Nittany Lions had control of the
game, and wanted to simply get experience, for Green, a junior and
talented third-string freshman Silas Redd.
”For me to tell ‘so-and-so is going to carry the ball X number
of times,’ I can’t,” Paterno said. ”I think we have two, three
good running backs, and I think any one of (them) can handle the
situation if they give us an opportunity to run.”
Royster remains atop the depth chart, though. Paterno stressed
he’s not worried about Royster, and that, whether in lopsided wins
or the blowout loss to Alabama, Royster hasn’t been needed as
He also wants more consistency from the offensive line in the
”I’ve challenged all those guys. I said you guys have to carry
this football team. You have to tell these young guys what it takes
to win … and Royster has done that,” Paterno said.
The Nittany Lions have a fair share of sophomores or untested
juniors playing expanded roles – not to mention freshman Rob Bolden
at quarterback. That leaves players such as Royster among the few
senior skill position players with extensive experience.
Those guys haven’t been immune, either, from the tough talk.
”I think he’s trying to send a message that we have a lot of
depth, a lot of guys who can play,” senior receiver Graham Zug
said. ”He’s trying to make a point you can’t settle down, can’t