Despite close games, Joe Paterno says Lions are playing well

Penn State is 6-1 and bowl eligible even though it hasn’t exactly racked up the style points in most of its wins this season.

But Joe Paterno feels that his team has done well enough against opponents that are playing tough against his team, and that’s what he’s dwelling on.

“I think the other guys have played well,” Paterno said Tuesday at his weekly teleconference. We have had pretty good control of most of the games. We’ve lost one game to a pretty darn good football team (Alabama). The rest of the time I think we’ve done a pretty good job.

“We’re not playing people that are dying, coming in … and giving it to us. Iowa is a pretty good football team. Purdue is a very much underrated football team. So I don’t know. I think we’re playing pretty well. Sure, you’d like to be able to get maybe a couple more scores in some areas that we may have hurt ourselves.”

Half of the Nittany Lions’ wins – over Temple by four, Indiana by six and Purdue by five – have been nail-biters. But Paterno notes that, “We’re playing with poise when we have to. We’re doing some things well. The other guys are playing hard against us.”

On the quarterback front, Paterno said he sees no change for Saturday’s night game at Northwestern. Rob Bolden will start, and Matt McGloin will come off the bench.

“We’ve been able to do a decent job” with that plan, he said. “I just have been reluctant to change that. You change it, you don’t know what you’re going to get. McGloin does a good job coming off the bench. He’s a guy that observes things.

“I think the thing has worked out all right. Obviously we’ve all talked several times. I’m sure they’d like me to pick one or the other. I think right now I couldn’t do that. So we’re going to stay pretty much the same way.”

McGloin got banged around a bit in Saturday’s game against Purdue, and there were some fears he may have a concussion. But Paterno said he practiced Monday “so I’m assuming he’s OK.”

Derek Moye, the favorite target of the quarterbacks, will miss Saturday’s game as he continues to recover from a broken bone in his foot. Paterno said doctors were talking “three, four weeks” and if that is so, Moye would not return to the lineup until after the Lions’ bye week – the Nov. 12 home game against Nebraska.

On other subjects:

--Paterno’s next win would be No. 408, tying him with former Grambling legend Eddie Robinson for second place among coaches at all levels of NCAA football. “I got to know Eddie a little bit,” Paterno said. “We talked a couple of times. He was a delightful person.”

--Paterno is concerned about “six or seven” Lions wearing down as they continue through the second half of the season. Tailback Silas Redd has had 85 carries the last three weeks. Paterno said he told his coaches, “Make sure you watch your kids. If they look tired, let me know and maybe we’ll start taking a little time off practice.”

--Paterno said sophomore wide receiver Curtis Drake (West Catholic), who was in uniform last Saturday but did not play, “has come around” after grappling with some class-related issues, but still is experiencing pain in the leg he broke last spring. “We have to be careful how much we depend on him because he still is not 100 percent,” he said. “I think he’s getting closer. I think right now it’s a question of his physical condition, nothing else.”

--As for his own health, Paterno said he’s doing pretty good overall but that his leg tends to get tired. “I have my days when the leg gets tired, starts to ache a little bit,” he said. “I can get around, walk around. They still have the cart out there for me if we have a two-hour practice just in case I get tired.”

--Joe Juliano