The Nittany Lions' quarterback battle has been the hottest topic of the spring. Following the Blue-White Game, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno lent his insights to a pack of media members hungry for details.
Check out the transcript of his interview below to see how he answers these questions and more!
Where do you guys stand at quarterback coming out of the spring?
Jay Paterno: Matt and Rob, and I don't say it in any particular order so don't read into it, but those two guys are ahead of the other guys right now. Kevin Newsome had a really, really good spring. Best spring he's had. Unfortunately, we got a day like today and really didn't get to show off much today with what we can do.
But, I think Matt and Rob are kind of ahead of the other guys right now. I'm really pleased with what we did. We did a lot of analysis in terms of where we put the ball on the field, how accurate we were, so I feel pretty strong about what we can do.
Have you talked to Rob about staying?
Jay Paterno: We've talked to him, for right now, just keep what we've talked about between he and I is probably the best thing to do right now. In the next couple of days, maybe a week, whatever it is, I'm going to get a chance to talk with him and his family, that kind of thing, so we'll go from there.
At this point, do you expect him back in the fall?
Jay Paterno: Yeah, I expect him back. After the spring he's had, I would hope so. But, again, that's something we've gotta talk about.
Jay Paterno: Yeah, I expect (Kevin) to be back. But, like I said, spring's over now, so now we'll go into a different mode the next week and they'll come in and meet with me individually, talk about what they did and those things. It's kind of an evasive answer, but it's the best one I can give you.
If it's still close through preseason practice, is there a chance for a 1a 1b situation?
Jay Paterno: We're putting the cart before the horse on that one. I think we've gotta get through the summer and get into the preseason and see. The good thing is, we have guys we feel very confident we can win with. Without a doubt. And the opposite is that you have nobody that you're confident with and that's a problem. So, we don't have a problem, we have a luxury.
Is it roughly 50-50 right now or does anyone have a slight edge?
Jay Paterno: They're both taking 50-50 reps with the first time. I don't know if anybody has a real big edge yet. In the spring, you analyze the film as best as you can as you go through and then next week, we'll go back and look at a lot of the scrimmage tape again just to look for little tiny things. But, in terms of - the things we've graded them on this spring are basically just what we call an accuracy matrix.
When they drop back to pass, did they put the ball where it's supposed to be? If it's dropped, obviously they can't control that. If the left tackle misses his block and he gets hit on the throw, he can't control that. If he lets go of the ball on time and the receiver falls down, they can't control that. So, we grade them on that. Only on the things they can control.
When you look at the accuracy statistic we had coming out of the spring, we were actually ahead of the '08 offense with what they did in the spring. Obviously, that was a very, very good offensive football team. So, I'm really encouraged with how we're throwing the ball. Moye missed a couple practices here and there, we dropped a couple more than we would have liked, but I'm really excited about where we're at. I really am.
Between the injuries and weather this spring, how much did that affect how you can evaluate the team this spring?
Jay Paterno: I think we did a lot of things really, really well. The thing that was good about it, we had some injuries but a lot of guys continued to compete and some of the guys that were behind stepped up and made plays. A couple of the wideouts, Brian Friend was a walk-on wideout for us and had a really great spring because he was forced into playing because Moye sat out a couple practices which was just precautionary, nothing serious, but he stepped in and made plays.
It's good in that we got a lot of guys a lot of reps. We had a chance, against the defense I think we threw 510 balls, and last year, which was the most we had, was about 540. So, we got a lot of good reps, got a lot of work. We really improved a lot of areas that we were not strong enough last year. We were able to really attack the whole field, pretty consistently. I don't want to sound like I'm too excited, but I am.
What was the spring like for Paul Jones?
Jay Paterno: He started out really, really well and then he hit a little bit of a lull in the middle and then picked it up toward the end. He ended up pretty strong.
Are you worried at all about losing Paul?
Jay Paterno: No, because he redshirted, so there's a little bit of a gap there. So I think he's got a chance. There's a little bit of a spread there between him and the other guys. But, you never know.
Did you set any conditions upon him returning when you talked with him in January?
Jay Paterno: To come in and compete and come after it like he was going to try to win the job. That was it. The thing about it is... I think the thing that people don't realize is, what we went through in January happens at a lot of bigtime programs every year. Everybody forgets Cam Newton left Florida because Tebow was ahead of him and he thought he was better than Tebow. Well, maybe he was, maybe he wasn't.
Did you have a similar talk with Michael Robinson?
Jay Paterno: A couple of times. Mike was in town yesterday. Mike met with the quarterbacks and talked to all of those guys, and he talked to them individually when I wasn't around, which I encouraged.
Mike told them, 'Look, it wasn't a bed of roses for me here.' One of the things I have told parents before is, everybody remembers how Michael Robinson left here. They forget that his mom and I had many, many phone conversations that were not exactly... at the end of the conversation, she'd say, I respect your opinion, Jay. I think you're wrong, but I respect your opinion. And I'd say, I respect your opinion and I think you might be right, you might be wrong. So, we've gone through this a bunch. This is nothing new.
What were the discussions like with Kevin with him not even going to the bowl game?
Jay Paterno: It was just one of those things where Kevin felt like he wanted to explore his options, and he came to the conclusion he wanted to stay. He and I have talked a couple of times this spring, and he really kind of likes it here and wants to stay. But, we'll see what happens this week. I know this, no matter what Kevin does, he's got a good future ahead of him. He's a very talented kid musically. Very talented kid on the field, and like I said, he really had a very, very good spring.
You said Paul hit a lull. Can you finish what you were saying there?
Jay Paterno: With a lot of guys, when they're not that one or two guy, they come out in spring and the first five days, they're really, really good and then they hit two or three days where they kind of back off. When you're young, sometimes in the spring it's tough to stay excited every practice because there's no game coming.
It was no different when guys I'd played with, they'd hit practice nine, ten, and back then, we did 20 which was really long. But, you'd hit those middle practices and then when you'd get to the last five, you start to perk up because you've got the Blue-White Game coming and you'll be on TV and get to play a whole game if there isn't a monsoon. So, I think that's part of it.
When you're young, you start out really hot and then you kind of hit that middle lull. It was a difficult spring for us just because we were inside all the time. My neighbor is building an ark.
What do you take from this mess (of a game today)?
Jay Paterno: Not much. Unfortunately, there will be about 40 plays you can grade or even look at. So, not a whole lot. I don't think there's anything you can really look at.
Did you practice or scrimmage outside at all this spring?
Jay Paterno: This spring, no. Even the days when it was actively raining, there was so much water. It's been a brutal spring that way. I'm just fearful we're going to get a nice warm day here and I'm going to have to cut the grass.
How much does that affect your evaluations?
Jay Paterno: We gave them all a field grid and showed them where they threw the ball, what segment of the field, and how accurate they were. There weren't a lot of balls over 45-50 yards. You don't throw a ton of them, but when you're inside, we had a lot of redzone work, which, for our fans, they're probably going to applaud that, even though three of the last four years, we were pretty good in the red zone but last year we weren't as good. So, we had a lot of red zone work. And so, when you're in the red zone, you're not throwing 50 yards downfield.
How long have you been doing the accuracy matrix measurement?
Jay Paterno: In terms of giving each quarterback a grid, this is the first year we did that on the computer. But, we've always graded them based on what they control. It's really been the last four or five years that we've really intensively done that.
This is the best accuracy as a group that we've had in that time. The number of balls that we had that were where they were supposed to was just under 70, and in '08, it was 68.9 or 68.5, in that ballpark. But, we were almost a full point higher this spring.
In the '08 team, Daryll was off the charts that year. We didn't have anybody quite reaching anything Daryll had that spring. Daryll was way ahead of everybody in that one. Yesterday we gave them their field distribution grids and gave them something that they could look at tangibly. It took a lot of extra effort on my part but it's something you've gotta do but I think it helped. I think it's a good teaching tool.