Joe Paterno held his weekly teleconference early this afternoon in anticipation of Saturday's showdown at Ohio State. The Penn State coach seemed fairly calm compared to other Tuesday press conferences in the lead up to a big game. As I've already written, I think it's safe to say this is the Lions' biggest game since 1994 and maybe 1986. Here's a summation of what Paterno had to say (along with comments from the peanut gallery):
1. A loaded question from colleague Bob Flounders of the Harrisburg Patriot-News: What did Joe think of backup linebacker Michael Mauti's development in light of his performance on Saturday (The implication is that Mauti should replace senior Tyrell Sales on the outside). Paterno had nice things to say about the kid. Wouldn't confirm your seeing more of the true freshman. (That is, until Terrelle Pryor scoots past Sales for a 54-yard first quarter score.)
2. Had glowing things to say about Pryor. What did you expect him to say? (How about, "He's an egotistical, snot-nosed kid that dragged out the recruiting process, strung us along and made us look like down-on-our-luck beggars.")
3. Coach wouldn't get into the BCS hullabaloo with four games remaining and mighty Ohio State waiting. (That was my question. Hey, a guy's got to have an angle to his story.)
4. Said he had his "fingers crossed" that safety Anthony Scirrotto would be cleared to play Saturday. The senior suffered a concussion against Michigan and sat for most of the game. Scirrotto said today that he expected to play. (I'll take his word with a grain a salt. He did get his bell rung just three days ago.)
5. Asked again about the possibility that Mauti and Bani Gbadyu would replace Sales and Josh Hull, Paterno was evasive. "Our problem was the down linemen," he said. (Yes, that's partially true. The linebackers, though, were the bigger problem, aside from Navorro Bowman.)
6. Paterno said that guard Stefen Wisniewski (sprained knee) is OK and that defensive end Devon Still, who broke his ankle during the preseason, is still weeks away from a possible return.
7. JoePa said that he's still day-to-day, but added that he'll have his right leg looked at during next week's bye week. (I don't have a sarcastic remark here. I wish Joe the best of health.)