UNIVERSITY PARK —
The heat is on Joe Paterno to turn things around at injury-riddled Penn State after two lackluster losses.
The offensively challenged Nittany Lions (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) have been inept in the red zone, while the short-handed defense has numerous players sidelined.
Some fans pointed blame at Paterno and his veteran coaching staff after the disheartening 33-13 homecoming loss last week to Illinois, and it's hard to blame them. Even JoePa himself said he wasn't up to par in that defeat.
"I don't think I did a very good job of coaching or getting ready for the game, to be frank with you," Paterno said Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "We just weren't on top of some things, didn't make a couple of adjustments we could have made."
Toss in double-digit road losses to ranked opponents Alabama and Iowa, and a few rabid backers have dusted off the "Joe Must Go" phrase on Internet message boards, their comments a little more noticeable with the team struggling.
The good news for fans is that Penn State will not lose this week. They have a bye, and will play struggling Minnesota (1-5, 0-2) on Oct. 23.
Cory Giger, host of the "Sports Central" radio show heard throughout central Pennsylvania, took about 30 calls Monday with nearly everyone critical of the coaches, particularly on offense. About 10 callers were critical of Paterno and said it was time for him to go.
Not that Paterno has heard or seen any of the criticism — this 83-year-old Hall of Famer says he never reads the newspaper, let alone surf the Web.
"I haven't got time to even think about that," Paterno said in brief response when asked if he had a message for those critical fans. "I'm just trying to get our team a little better."