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Winning isn’t all that matters to Joe Paterno

September 16, 1997

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ Two games. Two wins.

A potent passing attack against Pittsburgh. Improved rushing numbers versus Temple.

Total score: 86-24.

Naturally, Penn State coach Joe Paterno is worried.

``I have some concerns. I will always have some concerns. I’m sure of that we’ll never be perfect,″ Paterno said Tuesday.

``I have some concerns that Temple was able to run the ball fairly well against us. Offensively we are still not precise enough with our ... offensive line. And last Saturday our backs did not have a good day blocking. They made some mistakes.

``We’re really not as far along as I would like us to be,″ Paterno said.

It almost sounded like the top-ranked Nittany Lions were winless, not undefeated as they prepare for their first road game of the season against Louisville on Saturday.

But then Paterno was never one to cheerlead. In the 52-10 victory over Temple, for example, Paterno saw some good things _ the blocking of fullback Aaron Harris, the passing of Mike McQueary, the defensive play of the secondary.

The bad, however, took center stage. Paterno returned again and again to miscues by the offensive line and the effect they had on the running game. He also suggested that beating Temple was more mental than physical, an ominous statement with the bigger, stronger Big Ten teams just a few weeks away.

``We fooled Temple a great deal, we really didn’t run over them,″ he said. ``So I just don’t know where we are.″

Part of the problem could be the loss of fullback Jason Sload, a good blocker who often led the way for Curtis Enis last year. Sload has not played a down this season, hampered by a nagging knee injury. When he may return is still a question mark.

Harris has done well, but at a price.

``He’s carrying the ball and also blocking, which means he gets hit on every play,″ Paterno said. ``You carry the ball, you get hit. If the other guy carries the ball, you’re blocking, so there’s a contact on every play and that starts to take a toll on you.

``When we would play with Sload we weren’t hiding the secret that he wasn’t going to carry the ball a lot. He was more in there to block and did an excellent job with that.″

Paterno also defended the less-than-spectacular numbers Enis has put up in the first two games: 36 carries for 166 yards.

``Without Curtis Enis in the backfield and Aaron Harris I don’t think we’d be able to throw the ball like we’ve been able to throw it,″ Paterno said. ``They’ve both been very productive; we just haven’t given them the ball as many times as we would if we were not getting so much pressure and so much pursuit to the football.″

Penn State will start to concentrate on running _ rather than throwing _ against the blitz, Paterno said. With a new, untested quarterback the fear early on was that teams would force McQueary to show what he could do. Now that he has, Paterno said, the team can run more.

Paterno also noted that opponents are often well prepared to play Penn State.

``People study us,″ Paterno said. ``It isn’t as if we go in and we’re a football team that people have not looked at all summer _ early games particularly. We have people who have scrutinized everything we’ve done, come up with a lot of times different schemes than we’ve seen.″

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