UNIVERSITY PARK (AP) - Still using a crutch, but moving a little more spryly, Joe Paterno walked into the Beaver Stadium media room and sounded hopeful that he would pace the sideline for Penn State's next game Saturday.
There's no place he'd rather be with No. 3 Alabama trotting into Happy Valley this weekend.
Two tradition-rich programs with marquee coaches playing before 108,000 frenzied fans, most of whom are expected be wearing Penn State white.
"So, I'm like you guys, I'm anxious to see us play. ... I know they've worked hard," Paterno said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "We've been looking forward to playing against a team the caliber of Alabama with ... the tradition and the way they play."
Just in time for Saturday's showdown, the Nittany Lions made their season debut Tuesday in the AP Top 25 at No. 23 following a 41-7 trouncing of an FCS school, Indiana State, in the season opener.
Paterno coached from the press box then, following orders of doctors who encouraged him to play it safe following injuries to his right shoulder and pelvis. Devon Smith, a 155-pound receiver, accidentally bowled over the 84-year-old Paterno at practice on Aug. 7.
Paterno said that he's still in pain, and that he still may not be moving as quick as he would like for a three-plus hour coaching stint on the sideline.
At the same time, the notoriously stubborn Paterno remains as tough as ever despite his latest setback.
"But I've got my fingers crossed," he said. "I think I've got a good chance to be on the sideline."
Regardless of where he plans to call the shots, Paterno isn't offering new clues about his plans at quarterback. Rob Bolden started and played the first quarter against Indiana State, and Matt McGloin played the second before the pair split time in the third quarter. Both sat in the fourth, with the outcome well in hand.
Saturday will present a far more difficult challenge for Penn State.
"Whether we do it with two quarterbacks or one, I can't tell you right now," Paterno said. "We're going to practice as hard as we can. We're going to try to get as good as we can be."
Paterno pronounced McGloin and Bolden "so close and they're both good. And if we play well and everybody else plays well, it won't matter which one plays."
Alabama's players are saying some of the same things down in Tuscaloosa. After all, the Crimson Tide have also been operating with two quarterbacks. At the least, defenders on both teams in their respective practices are getting used to rotating signal-callers.
But the situation isn't dividing the team, Paterno said without hesitation. Players have not chosen sides between Bolden and McGloin. And both quarterbacks have the respect of teammates across the board.
"I know the offense feels good with whoever is in there," fullback Michael Zordich said. The offense can make plays "no matter who is in, and move the ball no matter what."
The kicking game remains a pressing concern in Happy Valley, though. Evan Lewis missed field goals from 38 and 47 yards last week, along with an extra point.
Errors that Penn State can overcome against a lower-division school may prove to be difference-makers against Alabama. This week, Lewis and freshman Sam Ficken are both listed atop the depth chart at kicker.
Last year's punter, strong-legged Anthony Fera, could potentially punt or kick, though he has been sidelined by off-field issues. Both Fera and senior tailback Stephfon Green, who missed most of the preseason for his own off-field issues, will likely play Saturday.
Penn State also lost depth on the offensive line. Backup tackle Mike Farrell hurt his right knee against Indiana State and might miss a couple weeks. Andrew Szczerba's availability is also unclear, as the tight end may have concussion-like symptoms.
As if Paterno didn't have enough to worry about with Alabama.
"Big problem of Alabama, obviously, is the fact that they're so ... they've got so many talented people," Paterno said. "So, we've got our hands full."