Penn State's Paterno unsure of fullback's availability

Penn State coach Joe Paterno said he wasn’t sure of fullback Joe Suhey’s status for the final three games of the season. Suhey, who sat out last Saturday’s 10-7 win over Illinois and barely played two weeks ago at Northwestern, is battling an upper-body injury.

“I don’t know about Joey,” Paterno said during the Penn State football radio show Thursday night. “Joey’s got that tough situation that every time he gets hit, he has a problem. And it’s his upper body so he really can’t protect it, especially the position he plays, fullback, where he has to do so much blocking. So I don’t know how much Joe’s gonna play.”

Michael Zordich, who splits time with Suhey, has started in his place. 

Paterno did confirm that, as expected, wide receiver Derek Moye will be ready down the stretch. Moye, who broke the fifth metarsal in his left foot on Oct. 11., entered on the last play of the third quarter against Illinois and played a crucial role in the game-winning drive. He caught two passes for 29 yards and drew a key pass interference penalty on a fourth down.

The coach also discussed Saturday’s open date and how he approaches practice during an off-week. Paterno said Tuesday he gave his players off Monday, they would have meetings on Tuesday and would practice Wednesday through Friday. 

Each year it’s different, he said, and he bases it on how hard the team has worked and how competitive the games have been up to that point.

“This year we took it easier than we did last year when we had an open date because we’ve had such a tough run,” he said. “We haven’t had a really easy time of it so I’m worried about their legs. I’m worried about their attitude, the enthusiasm and things like that.”

Finally, Paterno talked about the final three regular-season games that await the Nittany Lions – against Nebraska, at Ohio State and at Wisconsin. He said it is going to be a challenge and didn't sound thrilled about playing the last two games on the road.

“I think the teams excited about it,” Paterno said of the challenge that lies ahead. “And I think they should be. Get a chance to play against some of the better teams in the country. Find out what they’re made of and go from there.”

--Jake Kaplan