So as always, I want to thank you for covering Penn State Football. Obviously, you know I’ve been doing this for 26 years, 12 years as a head coach, I’m very proud of this team. I am very proud of this locker room. We have faced as much adversity in this game as I have experienced. We had 35 guys gone out for one reason or another. 21 guys because of the flu. 14 guys who got the flu and played with it. Thursday, it looked like a hospital ward in there. There were IVs everywhere. Friday was the same – we didn’t have a stock quarterback in Friday practice. We weren’t sure what was going to happen. So the way the guys stayed together, a bunch of guys who played and hadn’t played all year in big roles. I’m just really proud. I’m proud of the special teams, they did a great job of controlling position on the pitch. The defense has played the lights again, for the first time in the history of the program, we have held two Big Ten opponents to shutouts in the same season. Lots of good things, obviously lots of things to fix as well. Hope we get everyone back. We had a few other issues here after the game, hopefully we will find everyone again for next week as we will obviously need them on the road against a great opponent. I want to thank the fans. I want to thank everyone who works the game. We have had a great turnout throughout the year, which is important to us as a program, but also important to the community and we recognize that.
Q: Coach, so Christian Veilleux, [Ta’Quan] Roberson a few weeks ago. You had to make that decision on who was going to be the backup. Fans are going to ask why wasn’t this kid your original backup?
A: A few things, they have the right to improve. You know, at that point, it wasn’t obvious he was going to be the backup quarterback. I’m also not sure if going down the road from Iowa, the nation’s number two, in its top three possessions at least-one, at least-two, and minus-one. Ta’Quan had been in the program longer and really, it’s pretty obvious to everyone, that he gave us the best chance of winning at this point. After the way Veilleux played today, I get the question. I totally understand it, but it just got better. You have to remember that he didn’t play football in his last year. His season was canceled due to COVID. So he keeps getting better and I was proud of him. He was very composed today, made a few plays with his legs, made some big throws, made a few checks. Obviously that’s something to build on, but I understand the question. He improved, that’s the difference and that’s the reason.
Q: What are the main areas of growth and improvement over the past few months that you have noticed at Veilleux?
A: Yeah, what I told you before was still true, there wasn’t much of a gap. At one point, with Ta’Quan [Roberson], the guy was in the program longer and did some good things. I hadn’t really seen it at important times, obviously you don’t find out until they’re in there. As time passed, the gap did not widen. So it was as if the time he spent in the program had to be wider and [Christian] Veilleux has kind of continued to improve. He has a better understanding of the game plan and the games. He’s starting to know it inside and out. I thought the live rep job that we were able to get with Ta’Quan and Veilleux all season Sunday is live but without the quarters. I thought it had helped and done some really good things, but it also allowed us to compare these two guys in everything except the live quarterback. I think it continued to increase his confidence and our confidence in him. I think, again, that there is a big difference between being at home in this environment against this opponent versus that one. I have a ton of respect for Ta’Quan Roberson. He’s done everything right since he’s been here, and two very different situations we’re talking about as well. I have a lot of respect for Ta’Quan.
Q: Sean [Clifford] pre-game. When did you know he was going to be able to go because I didn’t see him warm up and after that, what is his status for the future?
A: What happened was we had a wave of this disease and then on Friday morning the second wave hit us and that’s when we didn’t have a shift. -back. All the quarterbacks were there earlier in the week and all of a sudden they were all knocked out. After Sean had the first set of infusions, we felt he could go. It was Friday night. Then awake, we all wait. Everyone is at breakfast, we told them to sleep. He had another round of IVs and felt like he could go so he didn’t come out to warm up because he was getting IVs. Hopefully this thing runs its course in the team, and we’ll have everyone back for the next week that we have to need and go from there.
Q: Your comment to the quarterback club ensuring you are not going anywhere. Are you planning to disclose this to everyone?
A: Now I would like to talk about Rutgers. I understand. I would like to talk about Rutgers. I made this statement because I thought something was going to happen a bit sooner. Tuesday, we can talk about it as much as you want. I would like to talk about Rutgers. I understand and understand the questions. I have tried to tell you before, these things are much more complicated than a simple yes and no and with me I always try to be as transparent as possible and tell you what I know and when I say something, it’s going to happen. If we could wait until Tuesday I would appreciate it, but I also understand the question.
Q: It seemed like the offensive line was a special type of center for this disease. So you had to face guys who had never played before, and also different combinations, different positions, with the communication that has to happen within this group… how do you think it went?
A: “I thought once they got settled in we had Caeden at the start of the game. He was like Sean, we didn’t know if he was going to go. He tried to go but n couldn’t and now you’re playing a real freshman and Landon Tengwall the low. You have Effner playing a bunch with a lot of moving parts. But I thought they were fighting in there. Greg is a very good defensive coach. They do a great job on the defensive end of the ball. They put pressure on us and were going to cover zero. I thought our guys were fighting and I thought Veilleux had done a good job escaping the pocket a few times and a few times hanging on and doing a hard throw, the touchdown throw that we executed on the wheel was huge. It was a great game with people in space. It would be a great movie to watch and learn from. Hope we find some of these guys again. Because we will need them next week, as I mentioned before. “
Q: Was it Curtis Jacobs part of the guys who had the virus or was it something else. And secondly, your defense, how important was it for them to start the shutout and where do you think they’re playing right now.
A: “Our defense is playing amazingly. We had a great position on the pitch that we couldn’t take advantage of at the start of the game. Thanks to special teams and excellent defense. Curtis was one of those guys who literally at breakfast starts throwing up and Curtis starts throwing up. They hadn’t had it. So it was like the defense got hit with that at the start of the week and then they were able to get out of it, then the offense hit at the end of the week and then a few defensive guys. I’m telling you guys between throwing up and IV, it was an interesting week. Literally, I’ve never experienced anything like this, especially at this point in the season when you’re already high. So just ton of respect for our guys and the way they handled it. They never flinched and never panicked. Our defense has played very well all year. I’m really proud of the guys. You know, there’s not much more to say but it’s so much adversity that I’ve seen a program endure in a week. “
Q: But in general when did Christian know he wasn’t going to be the starter and how do you think he behaved today?
A: “To be honest with you? We didn’t know Christian was, we weren’t sure if Christian was going to go last night. Mason Stahl. Mason Stahl took all the reps, and then Friday morning, I’m like sitting in the hallway and as they come down, and they all go looking for the temperatures to see if they can be cleared and it’s like ‘Nightlight is cleared, so he’s going to have breakfast. And then Sean, they just let stay up there. So I mean, literally, that was it, it was like until now so we win guys and we lose guys who got sick. So the advice is not very specific. We just adapt on the fly as we could. Andy Mutnan and the coaches, and the doctors did a phenomenal job. But since we have a GroupMe coming out of the staff group and it was buzzing and you’re just hoping for some positive news. “
Q: So when did you know Sean was your starter?
A: “I guess what happened was he didn’t come out. And the lady on TV asked me and I said ‘I don’t know’, she said : ‘You really don’t know?’ I said ‘no, I have to ask the doctors and the coaches where he is because he never came to warm up.’ And then he felt like “He could go, the doctors and coaches felt like he could go. Obviously he missed training time. He hadn’t eaten, the IVs, the whole thing.” Again, we felt like he was giving us the best opportunity based on experience and not having much left behind him. And then obviously Veilleux was able to go, and Sean didn’t. was able to go. He came on the sidelines after the third set or whatever. I said ‘Sean, I’m going to go with Veilleux. He said,’ Yeah, I get it. ‘”
Q: You mentioned that Veilluix has improved a lot over the past month. Where exactly did you see him improve and where did you need to see him improve to make that leap.
A: “His understanding and understanding of the playbook and his in-depth knowledge. He is able to adjust the protections. So adjust the protection. It’s not just about knowing the games, you have to know your games so that you can focus on defense. Then, of course, he was able to get more reps. We turned him into number two and he’s I also mentioned the Sunday scrums that were live for Ta’Quon and Veilleux to be able to assess these two guys. We don’t have a pre-season. So sometimes it is difficult to be able to do that, but I understand the question. Trust me. “