JoePa previews MSU

Penn State coach Joe Paterno held his weekly teleconference today to preview the final game of the season with Michigan State. A win would give the Nittany Lions their second Big Ten title in four seasons and a berth in the Rose Bowl. Here's what Paterno had to say about the Spartans -- among other topics -- along with comments from yours happy-the-season-is-almost-over: 

1. Joe was asked if he thought Daryll Clark was pressing too much. He said he has talked to Clark about his carelessness holding onto the ball, but other than that he thinks the quarterback is doing fine. Joe added that he thought we, the fourth estate, was being too hard on Clark. (Of course, he never reads the newspapers. In case you missed it, no one does anymore!)

2. He had no update on his possible surgery. After Saturday's game he said he could be having a hip replacement procedure the day following the Michigan State game. Asked later today if he thought the rehabilitation would affect his involvement with the team over the next month or whether he would be back in time for the bowl game, Paterno was nonplussed. "I'll certainly be involved even if I have to walk around with a cane over the next month," he said. (Not to be a wise a--, but what if he can only get around via wheelchair?)

3. Paterno spoke lovingly about senior wide receiver Derrick Williams and some of the other seniors that came to Penn State when it was a moribund program. (Lovingly may be too strong a word.)

4. Joe was told that a number of former players are returning for this game. It wasn't said, but I believe the implication was that they are returning in case Saturday is indeed Joe's final game at Beaver Stadium. Paterno said he had no clue who was returning. ("Is Gino going to be there?")

5. There are certainly a number of fans that are coming expecting this to be Joe's last stand. Ticket prices have shot up and it's not just because of the game and the stakes up for grabs. Joe seemed irk when this subject was broached. "Let's get off that. I haven't even thought about that," he said. (Don't let him fool you. He has thought about it. And he fully intends on returning next season.)

6. There was a question about running back Evan Royster only getting 12 touches against Indiana. He is not, Joe said, banged up. He just wanted to get backup Stephfon Green more touches. Still, the run game was nearly abandoned on Saturday. So much so, that even center A.Q. Shipley questioned the pass-heavy play-calling. (Take that, Jay Paterno.)

7. Joe intends to get back on the field. (When? By next year, fool. Pay attention.)

8. He expects defensive end Josh Gaines (sprained ankle) to be ready to play Saturday. (Joe, of course, said the same thing last week and Gaines lasted less than a series.)

9. Coach was asked what the Land Grant Trophy, given to the winner of the PSU-MSU game, meant to him. "It means a win," he said. (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.)