It has been well documented that this summer's preseason practices, which started two weeks ago Thursday, have been the toughest in years. Coach Joe Paterno, as well as his players, was not satisfied with last year's 7-6 season, Penn State's worst since 2004. They are striving to make this season different.
Here is what some of the players, and Paterno, had to say about preseason practices so far.
Linebacker Michael Mauti (redshirt junior): “A lot of guys have been working hard. It’s been pretty intense, one of the more intense camps that I’ve been a part of. I think a lot of guys are embracing that and we’ve been getting a lot of work done.”
Defensive tackle Devon Still (senior): “It’s probably been the toughest training camp since I’ve been here. We have a certain goal and Joe understands that goal, so he’s going to push us as hard as he can cause he knows success don’t come without working."
Safety Nick Sukay (senior): “We’ve had a lot of conditioning and then we go from conditioning right into periods as far as getting ready for the games and stuff like that, which will be a good thing. We’re learning to play tired and we’re getting in good shape at the same time. It’s definitely been tougher than the past years, but hopefully it will pay off.”
Wide receiver Justin Brown (junior): “It’s just way more intense. Coach has been on us a lot harder. We’ve been doing a lot of conditioning, making sure we’re ready for the season. They’re also just trying to test us mentally. It’s tough. Believe me, it’s tough.”
Fullback Michael Zordich (redshirt junior): “It’s been a different kind of tough. We’ve been doing a lot of running, a lot of conditioning, making sure that we’re in shape because last year we lost a couple close games near the fourth quarter. And that’s not knocking what kind of shape we we’re in, they’re just building off of that. Nobody’s having a problem with it, but it’s been tough.”
Paterno: “I’m glad to hear them say that, but I’m not so sure it’s the toughest we’ve had in years. I went into this pre-season with the idea that we were going to have a tough camp. I think one of the things that we were not last year is that I don’t know that we were tough enough, long enough in some games. With that, I think you always have to go back to the head coach. I wasn’t demanding enough. We weren’t physically tough enough. In the last two minutes of the football game, we had the other guy looking at the clock, worried about getting out of there. They’re not quite the things you like to have when you’re in a tough football game. I knew in my mind that we were going to have a tough spring, which we did. I told the kids, ‘You guys better work at it this summer because when you come back, we’re going to have a tough pre-season.’ I’m glad to hear the reaction is good.”