JoePa nears sideline return, talks QBs

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
4:30
PM ET
Penn State coach Joe Paterno is hopeful he'll return to the sideline for Saturday's home game against Eastern Michigan.

Paterno, still rehabbing from shoulder and pelvis injuries sustained last month during a Penn State practice, has been in the press box for the Nittany Lions' first three contests. The 84-year-old is getting closer, however, and nearly remained on the field for last week's game against Temple.

Will this be the week Paterno returns?

"I think I'm going to be able to do it," he said Tuesday, "but we'll see."

Paterno hopes to make a decision on where he'll be by Thursday. There's no doubt about where he wants to be Saturday afternoon.

"I miss being on the sideline," he said. "I miss being able to talk to kids about different things going on in the ballgame."

Two of those kids are quarterbacks Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin, who remain co-starters on this week's depth chart. Both players have had ups and downs for Penn State's sputtering offense, which ranks 103rd nationally in yards (306 ypg), 106th in passing (158 ypg) and 90th in scoring (22 ppg).

Penn State is one of only three FBS teams yet to record a touchdown pass in the first three games (Central Florida and San Jose State are the others).

Paterno continued to protect his quarterbacks Tuesday, stressing that the fair thing to do is let both play because neither has truly separated himself.

"If I felt that the team was much more comfortable with one than the other ... that obviously would be a factor, but that's not the way it is," he said. " ... They do everything you ask them to do. And it's very difficult for me to tell you so and so is better than the other one. So I don't know, maybe I'm making a mistake in not deciding. Because as you said, I'm not real comfortable having two quarterbacks. I'm not comfortable with it.

"But I also wouldn't be comfortable if I did something that I felt ended up being unfair to one."

A return to the sideline could help Paterno sort things out as Big Ten play inches closer.

"This is a seat-of-the-pants kind of situation I'm in right now," he said. "I've got a feel on the thing. And I'm a little bit at a disadvantage because I'm upstairs."

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