Thursday, August 27, 2009

Doom & Gloom?

Angst appears to be rippling through Nittany Nation like bad news on the stock market. Fan confidence has fallen a bit on the latest report from Joe Paterno here in the Altoona Mirror.

"We're still struggling with that offensive line right now, and we're not sure about our wideouts," he said. "We've got some kids that are someday going
to be really good, but it's all so new to them. So we're not anywhere near where I would hope we would be at this stage.

"We're only [nine] days away from playing a football game, and if we had to play this week - well, we'll have troubles regardless - but we'd have big, big troubles."

The new receivers are still having trouble with some fundamentals. "You still have to question wideouts knowing it's third down and 8, they go 7, third down and 10, they go 9. And the timing isn't good," Paterno said.

So what gives?

Come on people . . . this is classic JoePa. He's not going to come out saying about how great his team is and how many games they are going to win. HE DOES NOT DO THAT. In fact, positive things from Joe are often harbingers of bad things to come, as he tries to instill some false confidence in his players. False confidence is better than none at all.

He was reluctant to praise Lavar Arrington too highly. He highly praised Morelli. You do the math.

Akron will be the greatest football team they have ever faced. After his press conference, you'll wonder why Eastern Illinois isn't ranked in the top 20.

One messageboard poster commented that the complaints are too specific, so it must be true. Why???

So the receivers are running nine yard routes rather ten? When haven't we seen that? I always thought that was the play the coaches called! That is a fixable problem, people. If they can't catch or get open, that's more worrisome. Timing is something that comes with practice and our opening schedule is favorable to work the kinks out.

Do you really think Joe Paterno is going to let Akron, Syracuse . . . Iowa and Ohio State know exactly what he thinks his team's weaknesses are? The practices are largely closed and just try to get an injury update before a game--I dare you. This is not a program that publicizes details. That alone makes me question how much real truth there is to this.

Is he trying to set up excuses for later on? Maybe. But Paterno has never been a man to worry about excuses. He'll spell out L-O-U-S-Y if his team plays that way. He may chide the fans on excessive expectations, and perhaps he's trying to temper our high hopes, not against disillusionment, but more to common sense. Maybe I'm wrong, and three or four losses into the season he'll point back and say "I told you we weren't good" but I bet that even if he says something like that, it will be laced with regret, as if he had hoped he wouldn't have to play that card and is genuinely disappointed the point needs bringing up.
These were two of the three major areas that everyone was concerned about (the secondary being the third element.) Are we surprised that those areas are not on par with the rest of the team?

I personally think he's just trying to motivate the team and keep them focused. Maybe he sees their real potential and wants them to work harder and become more aggressive. That won't happen if he stands there and piles praises on as if he's fertilizing with manure.
Both parts of Paterno's interview can be viewed on Facebook. In part II, Paterno actually praises the speed and talent of the young guys in the skill positions. We could analzye this to death, but I think he's just trying to build confidence on the depth chart, while challenging his receivers and offensive line to step it up.
We'll know more come September 5th. That's when we play Akron, a pretty good team that might win the MAC, the BCS title, an academy award and perhaps $10 million dollars from publisher's clearinghouse. I hear they're so good, and we're not, maybe we shouldn't even bother to show up.

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