Paterno: We need to make big plays

Penn State coach Joe Paterno repeatedly emphasized Tuesday the need for his team to come up with more big plays on both sides of the football starting with Saturday’s game against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Nittany Lions dropped several passes and failed to force a turnover on defense in last weekend’s 27-11 loss to then-No. 3 Alabama. It was their ninth straight defeat at the hands of a top five team dating back to 1999.

Paterno said it’s “probably a combination of things” that is leading to his team not playing with the confidence he would like to see.

“I don’t know … you get into a mental attitude maybe, here we go again,”  the coach said at his weekly teleconference. “They don’t turn the ball over. We drop a pass, this or that, and it gets to be a self-defeating situation. So there’s a lot of little things.

“That’s the challenge ahead of us as coaches and a challenge ahead of the leadership on the team and some of the guys that should be the leaders. We’ve got to somehow get over that attitude. We’ve got to go out there with the idea, hey, we’re going to make some things happen for ourselves.”

Paterno said an important thing this week in preparing for Temple is making sure his team doesn’t get flustered.

“Everybody’s disappointed we didn’t do a little better job,” he said. “Certainly I’m disappointed. But we still have a bunch of good kids. They’re working hard. They got beat by a fine football team, didn’t make anything happen for themselves, got a couple of tough breaks and the whole bit. I think we’ve got to make sure we don’t panic, go from there.”

Paterno said the Owls (2-0) are the best team he has seen in all the years the Lions have played Temple, which has won only three of 39 games against the Lions, and has lost the last 28 in a row.

“Temple certainly is not going to be somebody that’s going to be easy,” he said. “It’s going to be tough. And we better get ourselves ready to play as well as we can play. If I’ve got to convince (my players) to do that, then I think we’ve got the wrong kids out there playing. Unless they’re stupid and they look at tapes, they’re going to see what kind of a football team Temple has.”

As for the quarterback position, Paterno said he will continue to play both sophomore Rob Bolden and junior Matt McGloin. He called the competition a tossup, and said he doesn’t like it that people are blaming Saturday’s loss on the quarterbacks.

“It’s easy to pick out somebody and blame him, particularly the quarterback,” he said. “But I think both quarterbacks have played well enough for us to win with. I’m reluctant right now to tell anybody, ‘Hey, we’re going to start this guy’ because it would look like I’m (thinking) like the other guy didn’t play well. I though they both did a pretty good job, really.”

Other topics addressed Tuesday by Paterno:

--He said he felt his front seven played well “most of the time” against Alabama running back Trent Richardson. As for Temple’s Bernard Pierce, he said the Owls junior has good anticipation, hits the hole hard and is fast enough to go outside. “He sure knows how to use his feet and eyes to the utmost advantage,” he said.

--He said sophomore wide receiver Curtis Drake, who played several snaps in the second half, was not 100 percent yet. He said Drake, the West Catholic graduate coming off breaking his left leg for the second time, still is not allowed to have any contact.

--He said senior tailback Stephfon Green, who did not dress for Saturday’s game after being charged in connection with allegedly purchasing alcohol for minors, will not be with the team this week.

--Joe Juliano