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September 24, 2008Penn State senior wide receiver Jordan Norwood sat down for a teleconference on Wednesday morning to talk with the media about his Nittany Lions' upcoming game with Illinois.
Here's a transcript from that question and answer session.
How much has Joe Paterno stressed ball protection this week in light of the fumbles?
He's been stressing that a lot and he's kind of put that on our position coaches, too, to kind of get us ready in that facet. But, we know as players it's something that we can't do, especially in the Big Ten, and expect to be successful if we turn the ball over.
How do you adjust to the Illini blitzing so much? Is it getting the passes off quicker or more protection back there for Daryll?
In terms of the passing game, at least, it's a little bit of both. Again, hopefully our run game can offset some of that, too, and maybe we won't get into some of those positions where they like to blitz. Other than that, it's just being sharp with protection just anyway, even if we don't need to keep extra guys in there?
Have you guys been shortening up your routes at all or trying to get the throws off a little quicker in practice this week?
That's something that we do when there's blitzes, anyways. It shortens things up a little bit and make sure we're ready for the ball if the quarterback needs to get it out of there a little bit quicker. But, I wouldn't say more than any other week are we working on that.
We've seen you take some wicked shots through these first few games. How are you holding up?
So far, so good. Just little bumps and bruises here and there that you walk away from any game with. But, holding up pretty good so far.
Can you compare the mindset going into conference play this year to that of 2005?
I think we are a lot more confident than we were in 2005, just by the way we've played. Offensively, we feel confident and even last week when we felt like we played kind of closer to the worst we could possibly play, we still have some confidence just from that. So, we're looking forward to it. We're excited and looking forward to doing big things.
What has been the difference with more passing success over the middle this year?
These early games it's kind of where our reads are taking us. There's been a lot of cover two looks underneath during the games and they'll do a little more of that this week and that kind of opens things up in the middle. We'll just take it week by week and take what the defense gives us and if the defense doesn't give us much, we'll create something.
Have you noticed the coaches having a lot of confidence in Daryll throwing over the middle?
Yeah, no doubt about it, and they should have. He makes the right reads and he'll put the ball wherever it should go, whether it's in the middle or wherever. He's a great quarterback physically and mentally. So, they have a lot of trust in him.
Illinois is coming off a bye week. How much of an advantage does that give them to heal up for an extra week and just concentrate on you guys?
I think the most advantage there is just health-wise, you get a chance to kind of get your legs back under you and get taken care of any little injuries and things like that that you have. But, it's kind of tough sometimes mentally to stay focused with a week off. Sometimes you come out flat after a week off and it takes a series or two to get going and other times you come out ready to play. So, we'll see on Saturday how they, mentally, how they were able to handle the week off.
This is your first Big Ten opener at home since 2003. Do you think it will be easier to get off to a good start when you're in your own place?
Hopefully. Either way, we'd like to start off with a win. We definitely enjoy playing at home and definitely find things a little more comforting when you have your own 110,000 behind you rather than somebody else's. So, we're looking forward to it. It should be a great atmosphere and hopefully, that will help out with us getting off to the right foot in the Big Ten.
Do you have any explanation for why Penn State seems to not have a quick start in Big Ten play?
I couldn't tell you. I think Penn State in general hasn't had great teams the past 10 or so years so I think that's obviously changing over the past few years. Hopefully that will show in our Big Ten opener this week.
What have you seen from Vontae Davis on film and how will you attack him and the secondary on Saturday?
He's a great cornerback, great athlete, great football player. We got to see a lot of him last year. We'll attack him just the way we attack any other defense and that's just to do what we do. We're not going to do anything special to try to after him or anything special to go after another corner or anything... As a receiving corps we feel that we definitely belong on the field with anybody. I feel like there's nothing there that we should pay super close attention to.
What do you remember about the 2005 Ohio State game? That was the first game you guys played in front of a really huge crowd at night that got the stadium shaking. What were your emotions like going into that game and did it take you a little while to settle down?
Yeah. That was an awesome game. There was definitely a lot of noise, a lot of nerves and I remember messing up a play call just because I was kind of so excited and it was so loud in there. But, I think at this point we're looking forward to all of that. But, we've been through it a few times and hopefully the nerves won't be there as much and we'll be able to get good things done as we did in 2005.
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