Sometimes, Joe Paterno says, a coach has to make seat-of-the-pants decisions based on the ebb and flow of a game.
So when Tony Sacca's performance ebbed in each of Penn State's last two games -- against Alabama and West Virginia -- the junior quarterback ended up with his seat on the bench.
In each game, senior backup Tom Bill played efficiently enough to help steer the Nittany Lions (6-2) to their fifth and sixth straight wins. Last Saturday, Bill was in the West Virginia game for State's last 24 points. After the game, Paterno said Sacca "seemed a little out of it."
Has Paterno, as his moves suggest, lost confidence in Sacca, who admitted that his confidence had been shaken?
Yesterday, Paterno put himself in Sacca's corner. He said Sacca would start against Maryland Saturday.
"Overall, Tony has done well," Paterno said. "I think he'll practice well this week and I think he'll play well this week. I don't think it's because I have more confidence in Tommy Bill. I took Tony out [against West Virginia] because he made some mental mistakes. He missed a couple of signals from the bench and he didn't pick up a blitz. My problem with him was a mental situation.
"Obviously, Bill has done well. I had intended to put Tony back in but Tom did well so I stayed with him. But I don't see any reason to change. By nature, I'm not a two-quarterback guy. The team has steadily made progress. We have good morale, and everyone has settled into a role."