I hope so, the only worry is if miller plays whether we can stop him. I think this is going to be a really good game and it would be massive for us if we can pull the win off.
I hope so, the only worry is if miller plays whether we can stop him. I think this is going to be a really good game and it would be massive for us if we can pull the win off.
Hey, Mez, I just finished watching the PSU game here at my parents house. We recorded it yesterday. It was nice to sit down, relax and just be with my dad, mom, and brother. We watched teh Steelers first and then PSU. Man that holding penalty on Bars changed teh whole game on that punt when the poison nuts got teh ball back. We also had some chances: dropped a pick 6, dropped a sure easy 6 points on that long pass early on. Mc Gloin was inconsistent, under thrwing, timing was off, throwing off his back foot....looked like the qb of last year. I thought the d looked good, just got tired of being on teh field. miller took control of teh game, but the 1st half we contained him. If our O is in sync, we win that game, we can beat that team....... I get back to Valencia on Wed. I will bewatching on Sat for sure
Hope everything went ok for you back in the states rat.
Ye i felt we needed to get a decent early lead amd we could of had it with the 2 opportunities you mentioned and we stopped miller well in the 1st half. Like you say the D tired in the 2nd and started giving up the big plays to miller. We did really well to hold them 3 times on the goal line and then they go for it on 4th down and miller manages to squeeze in. We played hard and on another day if things had of gone our way early on then we might have won.
Another tough game on saturday but with the way we have been playing we've got a chance. Im busy the next few weekends so i dont think ill be able to watch, im hoping they have re-runs on espn america or espn player.
Hope you have a safe trip home.
Yeah, I am trying to get back to Valencia, Sandy screwed me over. My flight was going through JFL NY, but Delta Airlines had to re-route thousands of people through Atlanta and all, so I ship out tomorrow Friday. I will be in valencia on Saturday........ I also use ESPN Player. The game is on there, so we will have on demand service if we cant see it ive, so that is good!!!!!
Purdue will be tough, I think we can beat them though. I think if we play a clean game and execute properly on offense and Mc Gloin playe unlike last week we will be fine.
Q. Bill, now that you have had a chance to review the film, why do you think your team committed so many penalties against Ohio State?
COACH O'BRIEN: Really, to be frank with you, Rich, we have moved on from Ohio State and moved on to Purdue. Hopefully we have corrected the mistakes from that game in practice and will continue to do that over the next three days here, but we have a big challenge for us at Purdue, and we've turned the page. We're working on Purdue and we turned the page on Monday.
Q. Bill, you talked a little bit about Purdue yesterday. What's the bigger challenge in your mind? Dealing with the size of their defensive tackles or just getting ready for their multiple offense?
COACH O'BRIEN: Well, both are challenges, Bob. I'll tell you, starting with our offense versus their defense, their two inside tackles are very, very good players with (Kawann) Short and (Bruce) Gaston. These guys are active, they're big, strong, physical, they have a good size secondary, linebackers that are active.
We have a big challenge ahead of us. Offensively they're a varied, multiple offense. You're going to have to defend the field both horizontally and vertically, you've got to do a great job on third down, so it's a big job for our defense.
Special teams - we've got to play better on special teams than we have in the past. Especially last week, so that's what we're trying to do is shore up some things on special teams and it's a big challenge for us.
Q. Bill, for your seniors, they're down to four games left. After everything they have been through, and how will that affect them this final month?
COACH O'BRIEN: Again, this is indicative of our football team. We have a resilient bunch of players and like I've said every single week, it's led by a fantastic senior class, a bunch of guys that have a passion for playing football for Penn State, for going to school here at Penn State, and they realize that there are only four games left, but, really, like I said in the beginning, we're just concentrating on Purdue.
They understand that they have four shots left, and it's been really neat to come to practice this week and watch these guys practice with great effort, with passion, compete against each other. Yesterday's practice, the pads were poppin' and that was really good to see. Again, that's all because of our senior class and their leadership.
Q. Bill, could you provide a quick update on Kyle Carter, and also with regard to the tight end, how long has that been important to you as an offensive coach, and what do you expect from the guys that play that "F" spot?
COACH O'BRIEN: Kyle Carter is day to day, so we will have to monitor him at the end of the week and see how he can cut and do certain things, you know, obviously in the passing game to determine whether he can play or not. I know he wants to play so he's working hard to get back on the field.
That tight end position, really, we've always thought that the tight end was a big part of what we've done, whether it was Georgia Tech, whether it was Maryland. Georgia Tech we had guys like J.P. Foschi, Maryland we had guys like Vernon Davis and Jeff Dugan. And obviously, New England the past couple of years with Rob (Gronkowski) and Aaron (Hernandez). So we've always felt the F tight end and the Y.
What people have to understand is those positions are interchangeable. That F guy can be a Y and that Y guy can be an F, depends on the personnel group you called and what you're trying to do with your personnel groupings. Those are two difficult positions in our offense to learn, second only to the quarterback position, because you're involved in all facets of the game. You're a route runner, a blocker, all the things that go into playing that position, so it will always be an important part of what we do here at Penn State.
Q. Yesterday you mentioned how you know you need to improve the kickoff return game. Do you think the issues are with the guys with the balls in the hands, the returners themselves, the guys in front of them block and go how close do you think you are to fixing the problems?
COACH O'BRIEN: I tell you, it's a little bit of everything. It's the blockers, it's the scheme; got to do a better job with the scheme. Got to do a better job with the scheme. It's the return guys. It's 11 guys working together. We've got to coach it better. We've really worked on it this week and hopefully you will see improvement in it this weekend.
Again, when you're starting drives inside the 20-yard-line, inside the 15-yard-line, in the Big Ten it's hard to drive the ball consistently 90 yards, 85 yards. It's easier to play on a shorter field, so hopefully we can show the improvement that we think we have seen in practice, hopefully we can show that in the game on Saturday.
Q. I was wondering how Sam Ficken was looking in practice lately and is your confidence with him to the point where you will put him in in a tough situation the rest of the season?
COACH O'BRIEN: Sam Ficken over the last couple of weeks has had a little bit of a quad issue, so we have been monitoring that and not kicking him as much in practice and, again, we have confidence in Sam's ability, but we have had to monitor his leg over the last couple of weeks, so that's what we're trying to do here leading into this game, too and hopefully by the end of the week we will have a better idea of what his range can be.
He was able to go in Saturday and kick off and I thought he had some nice kickoffs. I went for it on fourth down, and I think it would have been a 37 yard field goal and again, that was more because I felt good about the play call and had nothing to do with my lack of confidence in Sam. I have confidence in Sam, I just felt we needed to get a first down and get in for a touchdown on that drive, so that's where we are right now.
Q. Earlier today in his interviews, John Urschel said that he thought that you got a little the team got a little too excited for the game, and they need to calm down and stay collected. Did you see any of that?
COACH O'BRIEN: No, I didn't see again, I respect John and his opinion. John's a highly respected guy on our team but, again, we've moved on to Purdue and that's what we're working on right now is getting ready to play Purdue.
Q. Alex Kenney, can you talk about his progress and why his role has decreased as the season has gone along and also would he be a guy that you might be looking at for kickoffs, since it sounds like you're going to open up the competition this week?
COACH O'BRIEN: Sure. You know, there are a lot of positions on our football team that are very competitive. If you look on offense, the running back position is very competitive. The receiver position, the tight end position. The offensive tackle position, the guard position, especially the left guard position - very competitive positions. So you have to go out there every single day on the practice field and you have to compete to the best of your ability.
You have to know your assignments, you have to catch the ball, you have to run good routes, you have to block properly in the running game. That's what we're striving to do with every position and at the end of the week we determine who plays based odd how they have practiced so that's what we would say for every position on the team.
In the return game we're looking at a few different guys this week and by the end of the week we will make a decision on who is returning kicks.
Q. At the risk of hitting you with another John Urschel question, he mentioned that they have been working on improved communication between the linemen and between Matt (McGloin) and the linemen. Do you think that's an important thing and how do you go about working on that in practice?
COACH O'BRIEN: Sure. Again, we have tried to really work on that with the music and the loud noise during practice, using signals and using different cadences that we've had and I think it's improved.
We've also met about it, I've sat down with Stank (Matt Stankiewitch) and Matt McGloin about it, two great kids, bright guys, and, again, I think it starts with me, with coaching, so we have tried to coach it better and be more detailed about this week and hopefully it will be better this week.
Q. The NASCAR offense is exceptionally demanding. How much of that can be credited to the stuff that Fitz (Craig Fitzgerald) is doing with his new strength and conditioning program?
COACH O'BRIEN: I do feel like we have a team that's in good condition. I watch these guys on Monday nights. After practice we condition and we condition pretty hard and that's only two days after the game and I've been very impressed with the level of conditioning, really, since the beginning of the season.
I think that does have a lot to do with the off season conditioning program of Fitz, and that helps in the up tempo way we play. I think we practice fast, we run from drill to drill, a lot of you guys have been at practices and you can see we go from stretch to sprint to the next drill and we try to practice at a fast pace and I think that helps the level of conditioning.
Q. What do you think of Fitz' pregame routine with the worm and all that?
COACH O'BRIEN: Fitz is a flexible guy, he's a guy that's always been known for his dance moves, and I'm going to recommend him for "Dancing with the Stars" because since he's been at Penn State he's become a rock star. He does a great job.
Q. Bill, in your three losses you've been outscored 42 3 in the third quarter. Does that concern you, and what do you have to do to play better in that quarter?
COACH O'BRIEN: That's definitely a problem, and I think that leads back to myself and coaching. We've got to do a better job of adjusting at halftime and coming out with a better plan for the third quarter.
I think in some games, like you said, that's our three losses but obviously in our five wins we have done a better job of coming out at halftime, but that's a fair criticism and we have to make sure that starting this week we do a better job at halftime.
Q. On Fitz, Mike Hull said earlier today when he was asked about the craziest thing Fitz has done, he said he licked the floor. Is he a different kind of guy?
COACH O'BRIEN: He's a very intense guy, he's a fun guy. The guys really enjoy going into the weight room. He's a bright guy.
They enjoy lifting in there, conditioning with him, they enjoy going in there and talking to him. As far as, like, licking the floor and things like that, you'll have to get him over here and you can ask him. I don't know about that.
Q. What type of defensive end has Deion Barnes been for you this year and what has his relationship been with Sean Stanley? What type of relationship do they have?
COACH O'BRIEN: Deion has been a athletic player, he's big, he's athletic, and he's rangy, he's instinctive, he understands things that he sees, offensively, he can think about what's going to happen before it happens so he's able to react faster.
He and Sean Stanley, that whole defensive line, that's a close group. Offensive lines and defensive lines are always close with each other and with their coaches, because that's a very, very physical position that they play. It's a different deal playing those positions, offensive line, defensive line, and you're getting hit on every play and it's just different. So they have close relationships with each other and with their coach.
Q. I'm wondering if there are challenges in practicing through the storm this week. I know you were inside for a lot of it, was it hard to get everybody together? Was that difficult for you guys?
COACH O'BRIEN: No, I think, again, it was rainy and windy but it wasn't anything that really held us back, it was just more of practicing inside because we felt like we could get the most done inside. I don't like going inside but because of the wind and the rain and the field conditions, again, at this point in the season I would rather go inside and get productive work rather than risk having somebody get injured on a slippery field or something like that.
We're going outside today for at least part of the practice, if not the whole practice.
Q. Are there risks practicing on a wet field?
COACH O'BRIEN: Sure, there are always risks, that's why we'll work on the turf today. We'll go on that outdoor turf today.
Q. You have some players from New York and New Jersey, any of them have impacts in terms of the storm and the flooding?
COACH O'BRIEN: Again, it's a tough deal, having been in a hurricane myself in Massachusetts in the early '90s, I was in a hurricane. It's a tough deal.
I think right now all of our players' families are doing okay. Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those folks in New Jersey and everywhere that you're seeing on the news, it's a brutal deal, but I think our players haven't been necessarily affected by it.
Q. You were pretty hard on yourself last week after the loss. Are there one or two areas you are trying to improve on going against Purdue?
COACH O'BRIEN: Yeah, I try to do as good of a job every day of self critique in making sure I'm doing the best I can for these players and this University. That's every single day, whether we win or lose. I'm always trying to figure out what I could do better than the day before or the practice before or the game before. That will never change; that's what I always try to do.
Q. What have you seen out of Purdue's secondary on film, particularly their safety, Landon Feichter leading them in tackles, what stands out?
COACH O'BRIEN: Feichter, one thing that stands out is his range. He's got really good range, he can run, he's got good ball skills, he's instinctive and I would say that about the whole secondary. You're also talking about Taylor Richards, good range, instinctive player. Josh Johnson, their corner, 6 feet tall, 200 pound guy, he's had a good season, an aggressive player and then Ricardo Allen and Frankie Williams, the guys on the other side have played well, too. It's a big challenge for our offense and for our receivers and our tight ends in this game, no question about it.
Q. Is there an art to building a coaching staff? Do you lean on your contacts more or is there recruiting gamesmanship on keeping an eye on what good assistants are doing a good job around the country and at some point looking at bringing in outside guys.
COACH O'BRIEN: The number one I think about when I look at a staff and the number one thing I think about with regards to a recruit are their character. Are they good people? Are they honest? Do they have a great work ethic?
When it comes to coaching, are they guys, in my opinion, that I have worked with before or that I trust somebody that I know that's worked with them before and trust their opinion of them. Things like that.
We have an excellent football staff of coaches that communicate well with the players, that are smart, that have been in a lot of different situations football-wise that are good teachers and excellent recruiters, so this is a staff that can hopefully stay together for a while.
Q. In terms of balancing, retaining assistants, young assistants oftentimes have desires to move up the coaching ranks. How do you balance stability versus bringing in new coaches for fresh ideas so that your product doesn't become stale over time.
COACH O'BRIEN: Well, we just got here, so I would hope our product isn't getting stale. I haven't been here a year, it will be a year Jan 6th, so the word "stale" isn't being used, hopefully, quite yet, but at the end of the day I want our coaches to be willing to work extremely hard to do the best they can with their own careers.
I've been only a head coach for nine months; I just was there. I always wanted to be a head football coach. I think you want guys on your staff that aspire to those things, too, and some guys are older, and they don't necessarily want to be that; they just want to do the best job they can for Penn State and in their role on the staff. But this is a smart staff, a good teaching staff, a good recruiting staff, a staff that gets along together and a creative, bright staff.
So I don't see the word "stale" being used for quite a while with our staff.
Q. You were just talking about getting better every day and always wanting to improve with your coaching. What are the biggest challenges that you've encountered as a head coach eight games in now at this point?
COACH O'BRIEN: There are challenges, every day, that's a great question. There are challenges every day, whether it's administrative challenges or maybe players come into you and they have personal issues that you want to talk to them about.
The one thing that I've tried to do every single day is work extremely hard and be organized in my work. That's what I'll always try to do here and the other thing I've tried to do is be open, honest with our staff, with our players, and to make sure that everybody has an idea every single day of where they stand, what do they you can't stay the same, you have to figure out ways to get better.
Hopefully I've done that every day. Other than that there has been a lot of challenges, just being a first time head coach there is a ton of challenges. We would have to be here all day for me to tell you exactly all that there are, but there are challenges on the field, off the field, everywhere.
Q. Has anything been different than what you expected?
COACH O'BRIEN: I've never been a head coach so just went into it and said I'm going to be as organized as I can be, I'm going to be as hard working as I can be, and still have time for my family, and I'm going to do the best job I can for Penn State and these players.
I can't tell you how much I enjoy these players. I've had the most fun coaching that I've had compared to any year. I had a ton of fun last year, we went to a Super Bowl, that was great, and this has been just as much if not more fun and rewarding, coaching this team and being around these players.
Q. Can you describe your adjustment and satisfaction to the Big Ten officiating process not specifically the officiating but the process. Obviously there is going to be a couple of calls per game, do you break that tape down, send it to them? In particular, the call at the end of the half, the hold. I'm curious whether that came up in terms of questioning.
COACH O'BRIEN: Right, right, okay. I respect the question but I have to be very careful on how I answer this question, because I don't want to do anything to represent Penn State in the wrong way, and I want to make sure that people know that I have a ton of respect for the Big Ten referees and Bill Carollo, the head of the referees. But after the season when we get together I'm going to have questions. I want things defined, "what is this, what is that, what are we looking for, here? "
And we do send if we have questions on certain calls that were made we do send it in, but that will be one of my questions, okay, what happens when we send 'em in? We get a response, but what's done about that?
Do we try to fix the problem, do we just, okay, that was the answer, all right, next game? So those will be things I will try to address after the season, but I have a lot of respect for the Big Ten officials, they're good at communicating, and I'm sure they haven't had a lot of fun with me, certain crews haven't had a lot of fun with me, and I'm going to fight for my staff and for Penn State and that's the way I'm always going to be.
Q. You have talked about your seniors. You're not going to have a bowl game, are you seeing junior leadership develop and particularly how important for the next month or so?
COACH O'BRIEN: Great question. Yeah, I've definitely seen junior leadership show up. As a matter of fact the way our stretch lines are set up, our seniors lead, and then the first row that faces our seniors are all juniors, mostly juniors, and so I've seen I look at those guys every day and I say those are the guys that are going to be the leaders of this football team next year with the addition of other players, like Allen Robinson and Kyle Carter, but I do see some guys there that will be leaders next year and have taken on that role this year.
Q. You talked about Sean Stanley, he had a nagging back problem earlier in the season but Saturday he had arguably his best game of the season. How have you seen him develop over the season?
COACH O'BRIEN: Sean Stanley is one of those guys, I was just talking to him in our stretch line, he plays instinctively hard and he's tough. He has played every game this year with the games he's played in, with a back issue. If you know anything about back issues to play defensive end in the Big Ten conference and play the way he plays is a credit to him. He's a tough guy, I've enjoyed watching him play and getting to know him and I wish we had him for longer than we do, but I've seen him develop and get better and better and he plays with great effort.
He almost blocked a punt the other nature and we were only in punt safe and he came close to blocking a punt because of his own effort, his own work ethic.
Q. Kyle Carter, how surprised are you with his success? Is there a tight end in New England that he most reminds you of?
COACH O'BRIEN: I'm not surprised at all with his success. In spring practice I noticed right away that he had very good hands, he was an excellent athlete, I knew that he was going to continue to develop in the weight room with his strength and things like that and just saw where he was, a unique athlete, and that's a big, important term because he's nothing like anybody that we had in New England.
Rob Gronkowski is 6 7, 275 pounds with a low percentage of body fat, Aaron Hernandez is 6 4, 245, 250 pounds that runs a :4.5 40, so you're talking about totally different players, all thee of these guys, and Kyle being a college player, those guys are professional athletes, but they have different skill sets, and I haven't been surprised at all with the production that Kyle Carter has this year.
Q. I know you like to focus on what you have going here but with Danny Hope on the hot seat and Purdue needing a couple of wins to be bowl eligibility, is there any doubt in your mind that your team will be able to match their intensity on Saturday?
COACH O'BRIEN: Again, this team only has four games left and every game is a bowl game for us, every time we go out there.
You only like baseball plays every other day, sometimes every day, basketball plays every other day. We only play once a week. We play once a week. We practice five times very hard for that one opportunity to play a game.
So, you know, regardless of whatever is going on with any team that you play, and vice versa, we've got to go out there and our players, I believe, understand that we have only four more opportunities. We only play once a week, that's all we have. So we're going to put it all out there hopefully on Saturday.
Q. If Kyle can't go, how does that impact your personnel sets and are there particular guys that you think will have to step up?
COACH O'BRIEN: If Kyle can't go, the next guys have to do an excellent job and that includes obviously Jesse James, Matt Lehman, Garry Gilliam would be involved in certain things. We have talented guys in that position. That's a luxury to have three guys there, you have four total with Kyle, to play the bulk of those snaps; if one goes down you still have three. That's a pretty good deal. Those guys know what the challenge is in playing Purdue and they'll be looking forward to it.
Q. Adrian Amos got the first interception for the secondary, Saturday night. Do you and Ted (Roof) pay attention to turnovers, and are there specific practice drills that you guys work on to increase that?
COACH O'BRIEN: We work every day on takeaways, whether it's fumble recoveries, interception drills, tip drills, whatever it may be, we work extremely hard every single day on all of our guys and their ball skills so hopefully we will continue to see improvement on that in the weeks ahead.
Impressive win vs. Purdue........ Tough injury for jordan hill , hope he is well for next week. Offense was more crisp...we are now 6-3, i see us getting 7 wins, we should easily be 7-2 right now, if not for teh viorginia game
Glad you got home safely rat.
Didn't manage to watch the game until last night, we dominated from start to finish. We've got a lot of weapons on the offense, All the RB's seem to be running hard and getting good yardage and moseby felder and robinson stepping up at WR, Then we got the TE's making play's, the futures looking good on offense,
Defense looked solid again and were pretty faultless throughout. Hill will be a big loss though, any news on what happened to him?
If we play like this against nebraska we can definately beat em but we have to contain martinez and try and stop him doing what miller did to us later on in the OSU game.
I think Hill will be ready for Nebraska which is good. I agree the offense is fantastic this year and to be honest the transfers havent really affected us all that much...only one was fera in that Virginia game. We should be 7-2 at best, but 6-3 is not bad. We will be better than many think, and as far as I am concerned the haters can go screw themselves, we will win many games during our probabtion.
Defense is just awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Back to the offense..............Mc Gloin has completee 64% of his passes, and that just confirms one thing for me that I have been saying since 1994.......... PSU Offense sucked ass!!!! It was outdated, and Jay Paterno is one of the worst football coaches that had no business coaching QB´s. We lost many recruits because of him......Since Collins and Robinson we have not had a bonified NFL QB up there because of teh offense we ran and that dip shit coaching them....... Cant wait to see what we bring in, even during sanctions
Q. Bill, can you give us an update on the status of Jordan Hill and Kyle Carter for this week?
Bill O'Brien: Both those guys are day to day. They come in every day for treatment. Then we take a look at them in the training room, in the weight room, out on the field, and really that will be a later in the week decision, whether they can play or not.
Q. What do you see as the similarities between Braxton Miller and Taylor Martinez, both good throwing arms, solid quarterbacks?
Bill O'Brien: Good question. I believe that both guys are tremendous athletes; they both have excellent speed. I believe that both of those guys have worked on their throwing mechanics and improved throwing the football. Taylor Martinez has done an excellent job. I think he's completing 65 percent of his passes, he is an accurate guy, he can run, and they both they have great command of their offense, so they know...and they're coached very well. They know what they want to do, how they want to attack things and obviously with both guys, it's a huge challenge for any defense.
Q. How do you think your depth overall on the team has developed this year, especially now that you have guys like Jesse James, Brandon Moseby Felder and James Terry to play bigger roles for you?
Bill O'Brien: Sure, these guys have stepped up. If you look at every position...if you start on offense and you look at the offensive line, we played a lot of guys on the offensive line through the year, Ty Howle plays, Angelo Mangiro played, Eric Shrive played (at Purdue). Look at the running back position, you guys know as well as I do we have played a lot of guys there.
We have played guys at receiver. Felder has come along, Matt Zanellato had a catch last game, Trevor Williams, Alex Kenney, Evan Lewis has seen time. You look at the tight end, you just mentioned Jesse James. All the guys have done a nice job stepping up for the most part.
You look at the defensive team and the defensive line, I believe we do a really good job of rotating guys in there, keeping guys fresh and you mentioned James Terry, Kyle Baublitz has played, Pete Massaro has played, a number of guys contributed there, Mike Hull plays linebacker, and we were able to get (Michael) Yancich and (Ben) Kline in there. Those guys went in there and played hard.
The secondary, those guys don't have as many numbers there, but we've got guys in, and most of these guys are on full scholarship, and that's their role, to step up and play when we ask them to play.
Q. How do you expect the atmosphere playing a road game at Nebraska to differ than the other three Big Ten road games you've played?
Bill O'Brien: Well, I would expect that this atmosphere will be very loud, very intense, from what I hear. I've never been to Nebraska but from what I hear they have respectful fans, they're loud, they cheer for their team and they appreciate an opponent that plays hard and plays clean.
We're really looking forward to it. It's, again, it's like Nebraska Penn State, that's what college football is all about. You have two big time college football programs that have two good coaching staffs and a lot of good players and playing in a great game in Lincoln, that atmosphere, hopefully it's fun.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about back up offensive line guys, Baublitz, Terry, have they given you at this point in the season kind of what you were expecting in that position?
Bill O'Brien: They sure have. I've been pleased with both those guys. They're guys that don't start but they play. When they go in there they play hard, and they do what they're supposed to do. They play their assignment as best that they can and they're Penn State football players.
They accept their role and they do they try to excel in their role, and they've made plays for us this year. James Terry had a couple of big plays in the Purdue game, had a sack in the red area. Kyle, when he has gone in there, he's played hard, too, and he's a tough guy. A great kid to be around.
Q. The Big Ten is going to be announcing All Big 10 teams in a few weeks. First, I wanted to know your thoughts about all conference teams, and given Matt's production in the passing game, do you feel like he deserves consideration as one of the first two All Big Ten teams at quarterback?
Bill O'Brien: Joe, I respect the question, I'm focused on Nebraska. I'm not thinking about all conference teams. We're focused on a very good football team in Lincoln, Nebraska and the University of Nebraska with a great coaching staff and great players. After the season I'll read who is on the all conference team, but right now I am just focused on the opponent.
Q. The secondary is a unit that maybe we haven't talked about as much as some of the other position groups on the team. Seemed like they were pretty big on Saturday. Talk about their progress, especially since you don't have quite the depth there that you have with other position groups.
Bill O'Brien: Sure. I believe they're one of the most improved units on the team. They're very well coached by John Butler. I think that anybody that's been to our practices and watches John coach those guys with detail and intensity and he's a teacher; he accepts nothing less than their best. So I think he's done a great job with those guys.
Then you have to give them a lot of credit. Stephon Morris, Adrian Amos, they have done a really good job. Morris was one of the Players of the Game for us against Purdue. He's worked hard at his individual technique and done a really good job. Adrian has had a really good year for us. He's a big kid, he's a tough kid, fun guy to coach.
Then you look at the safety position with Malcolm Willis and Jake Fagnano and Steven Obeng; these guys have played well for us. Then you look at the role guys that are in that position like Jesse Della Valle, he's come up big in special teams for us. Then you look at freshman like Jordan Lucas and Da'Quan Davis; these guys have improved every week. You can't say enough about the players in that position. We have three games left, let's hope they improve. But, to this point in the season they have done everything we have asked them to do.
Q. Watching Nebraska play it appears that their receivers are about as physical as any group of receivers in the conference when it comes to run/blocking. Is that something that stands out and is that a match up that you think will be important this week?
Bill O'Brien: Sure, there is no question, it's a big, big match up. Nebraska has very talented players at every position and there is going to be times during the game where our secondary players have to make plays in space and get off blocks and that will be a big challenge because Nebraska does a nice job with their scheme.
Q. Has Zach Zwinak done enough to become your starter, or will the guys have to compete in practice and you will pick your starter based on practice?
Bill O'Brien: That will be a competition every week. Zach has done a really good job for us for the most part, he's a tough kid, he's big, he breaks tackles, he can catch the ball well, he's smart. So he will always be in the competition, but that will be a competition every week with all those guys, Billy Belton, Zordich, Derek Day, all those guys. That will be a practice competition every week.
And you know that's really what we try to do at every position, at every position. Is it easy to beat out Matt Stankiewitch at center? No, of course he's probably going to be our center, but he knows every week that he has to perform well in practice and that's the same for every position. Is Jordan Hill going to be our starting defensive tackle? Probably, but he knows he's got to go out there and practice, and same thing with (Gerald) Hodges and (Michael) Mauti and (Glenn) Carson...they know they have to earn it every day on the practice field. Q. Were Hill and Carter able to do anything in practice this week?
Bill O'Brien: They've been able to do some things, yeah.
Q. You were asked about the running back situation. The message sent to Bill Belton, how important do you think it is to send that message, to work hard in practice, first year program? What does that tell everybody on the team for you?
Bill O'Brien: I wouldn't say it's so much of a message, as I would say that from day one that I arrived here and our staff arrived here we've talked to our guys about the importance of practice and producing in practice. Everything you get is earned. It's earned on the practice field. So there is no message being sent. That was just that's what we do. There is a reason why you practice. You practice to compete and get ready for games, and life is about competition. We try to compete every day and we try to be as fair as we can as coaches and tell the players who are starting or who are going to play important roles, why they're playing and the other guys need to step it up and tell them why.
Those are conversations between myself and those players but that's really the deal with us, always, will be at Penn State that we're going to practice hard and reward players that practice the right way. Q. How aware are you of the history of Nebraska's walk on program, and what lessons can you take from their walk on program to build here?
Bill O'Brien: There is no question, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, those places have great traditions of run on programs, and those guys they just have done an excellent job, whether it was Coach Pelini or Tom Osborne or Frank Solich when he was there. They've done a good job of making sure that they bring in kids, whether they're scholarship kids or run on guys, that they're going to be good players for them. They develop them in practice.
Nebraska is famous for how they practice, especially back when I started coaching, when they had unlimited roster numbers so they could practice almost have two separate practices, where they were developing practice squad type players over here and over here they were getting ready to play Oklahoma. So they've really been one of the pioneers for run on type programs in the history of college football so, sure, I have a lot of respect for what they've done there.
Q. Can you talk about the development of your running game how it's developed throughout the first eight, nine games?
Bill O'Brien: Yeah, I believe it's I definitely believe it's improved. I was sitting there this morning thinking about how much this team has improved from the first day we started spring practice to where we are now.
It really an on-going process, and football is about improvement and how can you get better, and how does that translate to winning games. I think the running game has improved; I believe it can be even better. I think some of that has to do with me as a head coach and making sure that and as the play caller, making sure that I'm putting these guys in the best position to run the football.
I think our offensive line has improved, I think our offensive line plays together and communicates well and they're tough and smart and they're coached very well by Mac McWhorter, and I think our running backs have competed, competed in practice, and they've improved as the year has gone on with different seems.
These are different schemes than these kids ran before. We run the power one way; they ran it different from I got here, outside zone, inside zone, so it's not that easy to get used to the different ways of running the football and blocking schemes and things, so I do think there has been improvement and hopefully it can continue. Q. When you are assessing quarterback talent, how much do you weigh someone's physical skills versus mental or intangible qualities? Can you talk about Matt's (McGloin) development in those areas?
Bill O'Brien: Great question. They're really very equal. There are some things that are givens when you look at a quarterback. The guy has to be accurate. Doesn't necessarily mean that he has to have a rocket arm, he has to be accurate. So that's number one.
Beyond that what else do you look for? Decision making. So when you're watching a high school game, a high school tape you have to do the best you can to decide or judge is this guy making good decisions on tape. You don't really know what he's being coached to do, you're looking at the film and saying, "okay, it's cover one, and he tried to stuff the ball in over here where really he should have gone over here" you're trying to make educated decisions on how he makes decisions.
And then when you meet the young man, which in college, and it is difficult because you're not allowed to be around them as much because of the rules, but when you do you just try to talk to them and learn about him as a person, learn how he communicates, how his mind works, how he thinks about things and obviously intelligence becomes a big, big factor.
In Matt we knew right away we had a smart guy, a guy that was going to work, we knew we had a competitive guy. You have to give Matt a lot of credit because to this point in the season he's people have critiqued him and this and that, but this guy has had a good year. The proof is in how he's played and he's meant a lot to our football team, and I'm proud of the kid for how far he's come. Q. A lot of the guys, a lot of other players say that Mauti and Hodges, one reason for their success is their motor and everything that they have on the field, but how much of it do you think you can trace to the amount of time they prepare and study and watch film, perhaps even outside of practice?
Bill O'Brien: Well, again, a lot of these questions today lead back to the players themselves. Also the coaching. I think Ron Vanderlinden and Ted Roof have done an excellent job of coaching these guys; Ted in the scheme of things and Ron in the techniques of how to play the position, and you have to give all those linebackers, Mauti, Hodges, Carson, Hull, Yancich, Kline, they all watch film together on their own, they're self motivated guys, they practice hard.
Practice is very important to them, they lift hard in the weight room, they prepare their bodies and they prepare their minds, and it's been pretty cool to catch these guys play this year. Q. At this point in the season, are you able to find you are able to get nuanced with Matthew McGloin a little bit? Does he come to you and say, "Hey, I think we should do this?" Does he come to you that way?
Bill O'Brien: No question he's earned my trust and he studies tape and I wouldn't say that he comes to me a lot with ideas, you know, but he does during the games he sees things and he'll say, "Hey, they're doing this, we might want to try that," and they're good thoughts.
The one touchdown against Purdue, that was Matt. He said, "Hey, Coach, they're jumping that slip screen, we might want to go" that was Matt. So as you learn more about your role and the offense, you have every right to have communication between coach and player and Matt has definitely earned that right. Q. Did you want to have that as a coach, with a player that makes suggestions?
Bill O'Brien: I want a player that understands that he needs to earn the right to do that, but then once he shows us and gains our trust that he can go out there and make plays and get us into the right play and make good decisions, that, yeah, as the relationship builds, you definitely want to hear what he thinks. Q. Coach, especially in Big Ten play, Nebraska finds an extra gear in the fourth quarter. I wondered what you think about that?
Bill O'Brien: Yeah, I would agree, this is a heck of a team, it's an explosive football team that's very well coached. This is a huge challenge for us. They have, and I think that goes back to coaching. Bo does a great job I have a lot of respect for Bo. I think in many ways we see the game in similar ways, and just from watching them on tape, and they do, they seem to especially in Big Ten games they have really good fourth quarters. So, again, it's going to be a huge challenge for us and trying to keep it close so in the fourth quarter it's still a game, that's what we're going to try to do.
Q. In the Big Ten, Nebraska is averaging about 2 minutes a drive, two parts to that. How much does it help that your defense is used to that pace, and do you do anything to slow that down?
Bill O'Brien: Number one is, they do a great job with their up-tempo, no huddle package, so basically every time we have practiced that out on the practice field some form of fast pace, no huddle, so hopefully our players will be ready for the tempo. You never totally get that same tempo in practice that you're going to get in a game but hopefully they will do it.
Then there are different things we do to try to slow the tempo down a little bit but I will keep that between myself and our coaches. But, there are tricks of the trade that you can do to slow some things down. Q. You talked about the improvement the team is making and without a bowl game. I'm wondering if you can frame what this game means to the three game stretch that you have and how much a strong finish would mean to what you've built here in this year.
Bill O'Brien: Again, I believe that every game has meant a lot to us. Some games we always wish that we could have back. We wish we could have coached better, played better, but when you have 12 opportunities, every single game is a big game. This game is no bigger than any other game; it's just another big game. It's against a very, very good team.
We just want to continue to try to play well, build off the Purdue game, and know that we're going into a tough environment and trying to play as well as we can. Q. Your secondary, how do you feel those guys have caught the ball and your defense in catching the ball in general. Seems there have been more opportunities for interceptions. I'm wondering how you've assessed that?
Bill O'Brien: I believe that we have left some interceptions on the field that we could have caught and our players know that. Our players work extremely hard at that, ball drills during practice. Catching the football is not as easy as maybe Allen Robinson makes it seem. Catching the football is an acquired skill, and our guys are working hard on it and hopefully you will see over the last three games some improvement there.
You would like for the ball, when it's in the air and you have a shot at it, to come able to come down with it, and overall we probably need to do a better job there. Q. You've been at the grind for a while and now you don't have a bowl game to play for. Has there ever been a point in the past couple of weeks where you have been worried about players' focus or intensity?
Bill O'Brien: I really have not. I really haven't and if I ever sensed anything, I've tried to nip it in the bud as soon as possible, but this is one thing that impresses me about this football team, is that they come out to practice every single day and they have they practice hard, and I think they really enjoy practicing and they have fun. We do try to have fun, you know, you've been to practices, we crank the music, we move fast, it's not just like huddle, break the huddle, run a dive play. Huddle up again, run another dive play, you know what I mean?
We try to mix things up and practice situational football and compete against each other, so these guys have really taken to the way we practice and they have had fun doing it. Q. Have you done anything different in the last week to change it up?
Bill O'Brien: I would say that last week early in the week I did something different, but I'll keep that between myself and the team. Q. Veterans Day coming up, not a lot of football teams have a military veteran on their team, but you guys do with P.J. Byers, what does that bring to this team?
Bill O'Brien: We also have Brent Smith, who, I believe, served two tours in Iraq (Marines). It's a big deal and it's really neat to have these guys around because they're a little older and obviously they've been through a lot more than any of us. So the players on our team have a lot of respect for them and the perspective that they bring to the football team is pretty neat. Obviously, I've said this before, our football program, myself, we have so much respect for our military and our veterans who are fighting in all corners of the world and for us, for our ability to play football on Saturdays and go to school at Penn State, Monday through Friday. It's a big deal and we're lucky to have two of those guys on our football team.
Q. Brandon Moseby Felder is a guy we didn't see a whole lot of in the beginning of the season but the last four weeks he's gotten more and more targets. Why has he seen so much more work and how much has he improved?
Bill O'Brien: He's improved a lot, but he's played the whole season and you have seen him over the last few weeks catch a few more balls. He's improved in his route running, he's done everything we asked him to do in the running game, blocks, blocks the down safety, blocks corners, blocks for the screens. He's a team guy, one of the more improved guys on our football from a route running standpoint, from a health standpoint, durability standpoint, he's catching the ball better, and hopefully he can continue to improve over the next three weeks.
Q. Jesse James stepped in for Kyle Carter pretty well against Purdue. How has he developed this season and what kind of potential do you think he has going forward?
Bill O'Brien: He has unlimited potential. He is a 6 7, 265 pound young kid who came out of high school early, took a while to learn what we were trying to do, but, you know, he kept working at it, he's a hard working Pittsburgh kid and he is coached well by John Strollo, and he's done well in the weight room and we're expecting big things from over the next few years, no question, and the next few games.
Q. You said about Nebraska, talked about the run on program. Will you reach out to them at any point to pick their brain about that and if so when and how do you expecting it to go?
Bill O'Brien: Not just Nebraska, I'm going to reach out to a few programs. I'm going to leave that between myself and our staff right now but a few programs here in the off season. It's all about in my opinion, a little bit of professional development, but also some programs that, like you just said, for example, that have great examples of run on programs in their history.
We will definitely personally I will reach out to some of those coaches or athletic directors and see how exactly they went about doing that. And I already have, I already have done that so continue to do that. Q. You touched on Nebraska having an up tempo offense, maybe similar to you guys. Is that the only similarity you see between the two offensive schemes or do you think it goes past that?
Bill O'Brien: I would say the biggest similarity is that we do like to play up tempo, but I would say totally different offensive schemes, two different schemes. Q. I guess Nebraska might not have (Rex) Burkhead again this week. How much of a difference have you seen in their offense between whether they have Burkhead or (Ameer) Abdullah in there?
Bill O'Brien: Burkhead is an excellent player but they've got three other guys there that are really good players with Abdullah and (Braylon) Heard and (Imani) Cross they've got good players at that position so we're going to have to be up to the challenge of whoever is playing against us on Saturday.
Q. You focus so much on everything that your team has to play for and you've always kind of brought it back to your team. Nebraska has obviously a lot to play for with the Big Ten title game birth and a possible Rose Bowl. Does that present a different challenge for you maybe than going up against Purdue or Illinois or Iowa where they're not quite there in the standings?
Bill O'Brien: I don't think we we don't think about it that way. Obviously Nebraska does, for their team, they do have a lot to play for. We have a lot to play for -- we have history, tradition, our senior class, our student body, our administration, our University, but really what it comes down to is what we look at is, "okay, what do we have to do to win this game as it relates to Penn State versus Nebraska, offense versus defense, defense versus offense, special teams versus special teams, third down, fourth down, red area, two minute, what do we have to do to handle the crowd noise in Lincoln?"
So it's more about the two teams. We don't think it about I don't go into the team meeting today and say, "hey, look, guys, these guys are fighting for the Rose Bowl." I go in and say, "Look, guys, this is what they do offensively, defensively, special teams-wise and this is what I think we should do to combat that" and give our players the best chance to win the game.
Q. What do you think a stereotypical November Big Ten, football, are (Zach) Zwinak and (Michael) Zordich are they the type of guys that you need to win in this type of country?
Bill O'Brien: Actually I was talking to Tony (Mancuso) about when is it going to start snowing around here? But when I think of November Big Ten football I think of snow, tough, sound, fundamental football, good defense, good situational football and I just think of good teams going against each other with a lot of tradition, so that's basically what I think of when I think of November Big Ten football.
The offense has been a massive turnaround in less than a year and with an offseason of controversy. We have recruited quite a few highly rated QB's over the past few years but like you say the coaching has sucked balls.
I think the fact o'brien has worked with brady etc. and the way hes ran our offense this year is going to be a massive advantage in terms of recruiting, even with the post-season ban its an exciting time to be a PSU fan.
Yeah mez, i agree...its an exciting time.............. Like i tell people. They tried to tear us dowm, they tried to break us apart..... They have only made us stronger............... Just watch........... We are....... Penn state!!!!! Success with honor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Disappointing.......................... Int and fumble cost them 10-14 pts on turnovers.....d played well, caused turnovers. Offense i thought was rather conservative vs. Nebraska and osu.
Scoring 3 points in the 2nd half was just not good enough for us to go on and get the win, it didnt help us when they got 14 points in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half.
Q. Coach, how did yesterday's practice and the players' attitudes compare to the Monday immediately following the Ohio State game?
COACH O'BRIEN: We came out yesterday and had a really good practice; we had a crisp practice. We need to keep it going today, but as a matter of fact I told them after, that's what I appreciate about this football team, that they came back to work hard like that on a Monday. Like I said, it was good, and hopefully that can translate to today and we can win a Tuesday.
Q. I know Kyle Carter has been ruled out for this week. Is there a chance he could be out for the rest of the season? I was also wondering, could you evaluate the play of Garry Gilliam. He's a tight end that you don't get asked about a lot and he does the dirty work for you.
COACH O'BRIEN: Kyle Carter will be out for the rest of the season. Garry Gilliam is another guy I probably say this so many times you guys are sick of it, but he's another guy that's what Penn State is all about. He's a Pennsylvania guy, a really good student. He's been through a lot here, both personally and obviously as a team here.
He's a tough kid, he's an improved player. He plays a significant role for us, as a blocker, then he plays for us in a role in certain passing schemes that we ask him to run, certain routes, so he's a great guy to coach and he loves playing for Penn State. That's what I would say about Garry Gilliam.
Q. All four of the team's losses you have been leading or tied at halftime. Have you seen common issues in the second half of those games or what needs to be better there?
COACH O'BRIEN: I don't know. We've got to probably more of a discussion for after the season. We can do better things coaching, I'm sure, and, we just I think we've moved the ball in those games but just haven't scored or maybe turned it over, something like that.
So in the off season we're going to dive into this thing and scout ourselves and see if we can improve, but over the next two weeks we need to make sure we do a better job of coming out after halftime.
Q. Do you think you could explain what happened to Kyle Carter and summarize the season he had for you?
COACH O'BRIEN: Mark, I appreciate the question. I'm not going to get into the details of that yet, out of respect for him and his mom, so I don't want to get into that. He had an excellent season for us. Here is a guy, a young player, that came in here trying to learn a position that is a very difficult position to learn. This is offensively it's the second hardest position to learn behind quarterback. You're involved in the running game, in protections, you're involved in route running, you have to recognize coverage.
There are so many different things that you have to know, and I thought as a young player he came in here and did a really nice job. He's got excellent hands, he's a tough kid, he's a great kid, just a really good guy to have on the team.
Q. With Sam Ficken, what do you think he's improved at the most from, say, the Virginia game, beginning of the season until now? How has he worked through his quadriceps issue?
COACH O'BRIEN: He's definitely improved at the placement of his plant foot. He does a nice job. He's much more consistent with where his plant foot is on each kick, and there is a lot of credit that you have to give to him because he's really worked at it. When you're kicking better and better, you're gaining more and more confidence and he's a very, very laid back guy that cares about his teammates; wants to do well. It's nice to see him improve like he has.
Q. In light of what Matt (McGloin) said on Saturday with regard to Penn State not getting any calls, do you like guys who speak their mind postgame like that, or do you feel a need to coach 'em or caution them after a game against getting too upset?
COACH O'BRIEN: First of all, we're moving on to Indiana here so I really just want to try to focus on the Indiana game. Of course, we try to talk to our guys about, just overall at the beginning of the season and then weekly about making sure that they understand what their media obligations are and things like that.
At the end of the day, it's a free country and Matt can say what he wants, and that's what he did. He's an emotional kid but, look, it's time to move on to Indiana and that's it.
Q. There's apparently going to be a number of NFL coaching openings and at the end of this season. If there is, it's inevitable that some of those people are going to contact you. If they do, have you thought about how you're going to handle that?
COACH O'BRIEN: No. I'm focused on Indiana. We are at 6 4, trying to get to a 7th win and just really want to do a great job coaching this team, this week, for the Indiana game.
Q. Matt Lehman is a guy who hadn't played very much before the start of the season, and I wondered what you thought about him in the first few practices in March and as he blossomed into his role as a player?
COACH O'BRIEN: Matt Lehman has here is a guy that is a run on player, that was at Shippensburg and came to Penn State, what a story. He came in here, again, learning that position is not easy. He's a big, tall guy, he's a tough guy. He catches the ball well, he runs well for his size. He runs well.
He's become a better and better route runner all year, and he's come up with some big catches for us in these games, and it's because of his hard work. Those guys are coached well by John Strollo. John cares about those kids and he's done a nice job with that position and making sure those guys improve every week.
Q. Deion Barnes is a guy that you talked about a lot before the beginning of the season and I'm just wondering if his playing has lived up to your expectations and how much room does he have to grow as a player?
COACH O'BRIEN: Deion Barnes is a uniquely talented guy. He's a tall guy, he's got really good athleticism, he's tough, a good team player, a teammate. His future is limitless. He just needs to continue to work. He's coached very well by Larry Johnson, he's fit very well into Ted Roof's schemes, and he's had a good season for us to this point. He's made a lot of big plays, so hopefully he can continue playing that way this week.
Q. You look up and down this roster, I think it would be safe to say that a lot of the players have met expectations. Are you surprised that you're 6 4 this year considering some of the individual successes you have had?
COACH O'BRIEN: Of course, we hate to lose. Like I've always said, losing will never be accepted here at Penn State, and going back in those games everybody wishes that we could have done a better job coaching-wise, playing-wise, but we're moving we've moved on, and we're looking forward to playing our final two home games, starting with Indiana here.
We are just looking forward to you know what? I'm looking forward to practice today. Can't wait to go out to practice today and tomorrow and Thursday and Friday and then play in front of this home crowd on Saturday, so I'm looking forward to the Indiana game.
Q. The tight end position has evolved over the last 10 years in the NFL and college, and with your success at the Patriots and here with the tight ends, you've been at the forefront of that. Can you talk about when you realized the tight ends could be such an important part of the offense you run?
COACH O'BRIEN: That's a great question. After the 2009 season in New England we felt like we wanted to go in the direction on offense of the tight end position.
We basically started fresh with new tight ends, so in that draft, that 2010 draft, we were fortunate enough to draft Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and I'll never forget the day they came to New England for their rookie mini-camp. We knew right away that we had two uniquely talented guys, and we knew they would be match up problems for teams.
So what I learned there was because of their size and their speed and their catching ability and their football instincts that they could be problems for defense, especially on the inside of coverages. And then I learned when you split them out wide, they're a little bit of a problem, too, because they're going against corners that aren't as big as those guys are; Rob was 6 7 and Aaron 6 4. Then coming here I have learned even more.
I think we have a great group of tight ends here. They are smart, tough, they can do both, they can block, run routes, catch. Some guys are better blockers than route runners; some are better route runners than blockers, but they all work hard, and they're all instinctive players, and I hope we can continue to grow in that position.
Q. I believe you said earlier in the season that before the season begins you evaluate your players and project where they're going to be. I'm curious where Zach Zwinak was in that evaluation?
COACH O'BRIEN: He's surpassed where he was. When we came out of spring training, we had a much different football team, after the Blue-White Game, than we do as we sit here today. We had Silas Redd was here, who rushed for over 1,000 yards the year before, and you go right down the line, we moved Billy Belton there, we had a different position there than we have now. And then obviously what happens every year that I have been in football with the running back position, we had injuries occur, and as injuries occur the next guy has to step up. That's what happened to Zach. We had injuries, and he was the next guy.
He came out there and he really did a nice job of doing what we coached him to do. Charles London does a great job with those guys, teaching them what to do every week. He's a tough kid, he can run, he's faster than people think he is, he's a 235 pound guy, he's strong, he's a punishing runner. And are there things that he needs to get better at, of course he does. He's got to get better at ball security. He can be a really good route runner if he concentrates on it, and I know he will. He's been a guy who has done a great job for us this year.
Q. Bill, this was addressed briefly after the game at Nebraska, some speculation that people are against Penn State or are out to get Penn State. I'm not sure you are aware, but today the NCAA apparel store stopped selling Penn State gear. They called it a glitch, but it has your fan base up in arms. What would you tell your fan base about this notion that people are against Penn State?
COACH O'BRIEN: I would tell our fans that nobody is against Penn State; no one is against Penn State. Penn State is a very special university. Penn State has a very unique athletic department with 31 sports, some great coaches. Penn State is a place where you can receive a world renowned education and choose from 100 different majors.
Penn State has a football team this year that plays with extremely good effort, plays hard. Penn State has a senior class on this football team right here that to me will go down in the history of college football as one of the better senior classes of any college football team.
At the end of the day, football is a sport played by guys that compete hard, and it's just a great team sport, and that's what it is, and nobody is against Penn State.
Q. When you guys go into the locker room at halftime, without getting into in game strategy, how much do you split up the time meeting with the coaches versus the players? Do you address the players as a group and does that vary game to game or do you have a set procedure for that?
COACH O'BRIEN: We have a set procedure and we meet as a coaching staff first. We meet as an offensive staff, defensive staff, and then I travel in between there. I meet with the offensive coaches first then I go with the defensive staff, then we meet with the players.
One of the things that is interesting in college football is the halftime is a lot longer than in the NFL, so it took me a while to get used to that. In the NFL it's bang, bang, bang; there are no bands. When you're playing the Jets, there are no bands. And that's not a shot at the band, I love the band, obviously, so it's about a 20 minute halftime, and that's what we try to do and we make adjustments.
At the end of the day, sometimes those adjustments work and sometimes they don't. It's a bunch of good kids and good coaches trying to do the right thing. I wouldn't make too much out of the second half thing. I know that's what maybe you guys are driving at, but we just need to coach it and play it better.
Q. You know when the season ends, the transfer free agency stuff is going to open up again. Have you and your staff thought much about that yet or how you plan to deal with that situation?
COACH O'BRIEN: I believe that every single day we work very hard on our relationships with our players. We work very hard to put our players in the best position to play on Saturdays. We work very hard to come up with as good of a practice plan as we can. We care about our players, their families, their class schedules, so that's what we do every single day.
Do we have a strategy for whatever that is? I wouldn't say we have a strategy, we just try to go out there with this 2012 team and just have open lines of communication and coaching them to the best of our ability and coach them to be well rounded guys. That's what we do.
Q. I know for your final two games you would love a full stadium, especially the student section for your seniors, but I am a student here, and I know a lot of kids are talking about going home and relaxing over break and not coming back for the game. Are you going to try to do anything to convince kids to come back for that Wisconsin game?
COACH O'BRIEN: I'm not going to beg anybody to come to the game but I'm going to tell them this: This is a team that has been through unprecedented situations. This is a football team led by a senior class that has had the choice, had the choice, had a choice whether to stay at Penn State or to leave Penn State, and they chose to stay.
So as fans, as students, can we not choose to support them in their last two games, eight quarters of football? I don't know, to me that's what I feel. I think this is a team that's poured its heart and soul into this season. We're not an undefeated team, can't do anything about that now, we have two games left starting with a tough Indiana team.
I would hope and I would expect that our students and our fans understand what this team has been through and what they did to commit to each other, to commit to this university, to stay together and come support them in their last two games, especially this senior class.
Q. Given Matt McGloin's season, what do you think is in store for him, after the season? Is he a guy that could have a job in some capacity in the NFL even if he doesn't come back?
COACH O'BRIEN: Let's focus on Indiana and then Wisconsin, and after the season ask me that question again, okay?
Q. Was your sideline warned at all before that penalty? Has your sideline been warned this year?
COACH O'BRIEN: No.
Q. Matt is not available this week. You figure it was a good time to give him a week away from the media, based on maybe after the game? Did that have something to do with it?
COACH O'BRIEN: No. I choose what players to talk to the media every week, and I just chose for him to not be on that list.
Q. You've talked about varying losses, and was this one, because of the circumstances, a little more difficult? Is your resiliency as a leader taxed through some of the disappointments?
COACH O'BRIEN: No, this again, we've moved on to Indiana. We came out yesterday, we had a good meeting, we had a good team meeting. One of the good things about our year this year is our schedule I think the way we set up our schedule as a staff has been good. We gave them Sunday off, and they can come in for treatments and maybe get a lift in, and then they come back Monday, so they have a chance to think about things in their own mind.
And when they come back on Monday, they seem to be refreshed and for the most part every Monday they have come out and practiced well. No, we will be ready to go for Indiana. We will be ready to go.
Q. Coach, you talk about the special senior class and the most attention goes to (Matt) McGloin, (Michael) Mauti, (Gerald) Hodges, those guys. What can you say about the rest of the seniors? Shane McGregor, is going to be here talking to us. A guy like that that doesn't play much, what does he mean to this team?
COACH O'BRIEN: That's the great thing about this class, is that you have a lot of guys like that, the Shane McGregors, the J.R. Refices, these are unique guys that come out to practice every week and are great students. You'll probably hear more about them after they graduate than while they were here at Penn State.
There are a bunch of guys like that. I don't think we talk enough about Stank (Matt Stankiewitch), our center or (Mike) Farrell, our tackle. Those guys have played well for us...Pete Massaro and what he's gone through and Stephon Morris is one of the best corners in the Big Ten. A lot of people doubted how Stephon Morris was going to play this year. He's come out and had a hell of a year, and I hope people take note of that. It is a great senior class of guys and guys that have poured their heart and soul into this team.
Q. At the risk of beating a dead horse with the NFL stuff, you're in a unique situation after this season, where players have decisions to make, recruits are looking. Do you feel at all a need to make a definitive statement on your future, given the situation and that your name has been floated out there with some different teams?
COACH O'BRIEN: I don't read we're 6 4, I'm flattered that you would ask me that question. I'm worried about Indiana and our Tuesday practice and looking forward to doing the best we can for this team as a coaching staff for this Indiana game.
Q. The group that calls themselves the "Supa 6" have you heard of them?
COACH O'BRIEN: Oh yeah.
Q. What kind of camaraderie do they have and do you ever rib them at practice?
COACH O'BRIEN: No, I never - no (laughs).
Q. Are you worried that they might make a move in the off season because they're so young and talented?
COACH O'BRIEN: That's the second question you have asked me about being worried. I don't worry. Do you know what I worry about? I worry about my son, I worry about my kids, I worry about my family. Those are things to worry about. I don't worry about things that are out of our control. I will tell you this about that group of players; they have great camaraderie. I think they love playing for Penn State. I believe they understand the value of the education here at Penn State. They know that whether it's offensive or defensive players in that group of guys, they know that their talents will be show cased here to play and with good schemes on both sides of the ball. I think those guys are committed to Penn State. You would have to ask them.
Q. I wonder if you can talk about Jim Bernhardt's role in the organization. Is he kind of like your Berj
COACH O'BRIEN: No, that's a bad comparison. That's a different role that he (Berj Najarian) played at New England. Jimmy coached me in college, and he's a guy that he actually was instrumental in getting me my first break in coaching. I was coaching at Brown, and George O'Leary was the head coach at Georgia Tech, and Jimmy and George had gone way back, they're both from Long Island. George called Jimmy and said, "Listen, I need somebody that is smart enough to get into Georgia Tech grad school but dumb enough to want to coach," and that was me. And I went down to Georgia Tech and Jimmy got me that job.
I owe a lot to Jimmy. He's a behind the scenes guy here at Penn State. He is definitely my right hand man and, you know, I don't want to get into the details of his role because then I would have to kill you, Nate, but he plays a big role for us in our program (laughter).
Q. You have stressed the importance of the future of the walk on program here a couple times this season. Without giving too much away about your future recruiting strategies, of course, how do you entice a player to become a walk on given the circumstances as opposed to taking a scholarship offer from another school?
COACH O'BRIEN: We have actually obviously I can't get into specifics but we have had a good response to guys that want to run on here, obviously mostly Pennsylvania guys. There are a lot of good football players in Pennsylvania that are good students that really grew up like Matt McGloin -- that grew up wanting to play for Penn State and were going to come here no matter what, if they were asked to be a run on here, so we have had a great response to that and hopefully that bodes well for the future.
Q. What are your impressions of Indiana? When you see they gave up 500 yards to Wisconsin in running, does that make you change your focus to the ground game?
COACH O'BRIEN: Every week is different so we just we're going to do what we do, but to me they're a good football team. I think Kevin (Wilson) has done a really good job there, defensively they are sound, they have a good blitz scheme. Their two inside tackles are two of the better players we have played this year at those positions. Offensively they run a very, very fast tempo, I mean ultra fast, and they try and run between 90 and 100 plays in a game, so that's a huge challenge for our defense this week and special teams.
We feel like we have to play well on special teams because they're going to come to play on special teams and we're going to do the best we can to get an edge there. Kevin Wilson has done an excellent job with that program from when he got there to where it is now, so it's going to be a tough game for us on Saturday.
Q. We know that you like keep your starters in the game for most of the game but you're talking about the senior class do you have any plans to get Shane McGregor or any of those seniors more snaps with two games left in the season?
COACH O'BRIEN: Haven't thought about that at this point. Number one thing is we're going to try to go out there and win the game. We will do the best we can to put our players in the best position to win the game first.
Q. Can you talk about the development of your defensive ends as a group, as a whole, throughout the year?
COACH O'BRIEN: I think that there has been a lot of improvement there, and it was a new scheme, so they had to learn how to play in a new scheme, and then it was a little different blitz scheme than in the past.
It was a little different run, gap control scheme so every week Larry (Johnson) has done a nice job of explaining the game plan and watching these guys improve. I think all of them have unique abilities. They're not all the same; some guys are better pass rushers than run guys, and some guys are better run guys than pass rushers, so we try to use them in that way, and it's a unit that has improved.
Q. Indiana has given up a lot of yards but they have the ability to get after the quarterback. They're third in the conference in sacks; you've got to be concerned about that a little bit.
COACH O'BRIEN: Indiana concerns me. They're a good football team. Yeah, they have a good pressure scheme, like I said, they have two inside tackles that are excellent players and they sack the quarterback. When you have two inside tackles that sack the quarterback, that tells you right there that they're two good players because it's not easy to rush the passer from those positions. Indiana is a good football team, and we have to have a good week of practice and be ready to go on Saturday, and I believe we will be ready to go.
Q. Malcolm Willis is listed as day to day on the weekly injury report. Can you provide an update on him? Did he practice yesterday or what are the chances he places on Saturday?
COACH O'BRIEN: That is a day to day, it's more like last week with a couple of guys, we will have to see later in the week how he does. He did some things yesterday but we will have to see how he is later in the week.
Q. Bill, James Terry is coming in here next. What does he do in terms of the defensive line?
COACH O'BRIEN: Number one, another great kid, another really nice, good team guy that's part of this, in my opinion, great senior class. He's had some good he had a good game against Purdue and he's provided valuable snaps for us. When you have a guy like that that would probably start for most teams in this conference but because he's backing up some quality guys like Jordan Hill, who is an All American candidate, that's a tough, tough deal for a guy like James, and he's accepted his role, and when he gets in there he plays hard, and I can't say enough about James Terry. He's a hell of a kid.
yeah I agree bro, blowing that lead in 5 min was ridiculous....I also DO NOT agree with that replay call. That was bullshit!! We screwed on that play. The ball was over before control was lost. That call should be played under protest. Like we said, its us against the world right now and in teh next 4 seasons, and those are things that we are not going to get. Still, that play changed teh game out there in nebraska
What a season....... This was vy far the building block for the new era at psu...................... O´brien has done a great job, and i look forward to good things to come. I will remember this season as i do the 1994, 2005 ones that were great for teh players and moments...........
Great win to end the season, gutted its over but the team played real hard all year.
Deserved victory yesterday, 1st quarter the D struggled but after that they just dominated and allowed to O to go out and do their stuff.
Roll on next year, hope O'Brien stays, he doesn't strike me as the sort of coach that will walk away after 1 year, I hope he's here for the long run.
I agree Mezz, was a hell of a season. Very emotional. I am satisfied with an 8-4 record. My prediction was 7-5.......... and what makes it great is the NCAA and experts can kiss our ass. They thought they could tear us down, thought they could tear us apart, and they only made us stronger. I will also say this. Whn I go home this December I plan on going up to campus to visit, and I am going to visit Coach Paterno´s grave. You don´t just erase 46 years of history like it never happened.
Congratulations to Bill O´Brien on Coach of the Year Award, it is well deserved. I hope hwe does stay. The clause in his contract due to the sanctions automatically gives him 9 years, so that is cool. This coming recruiting class wil be interesting, and hey if you think about it, we only have 3 more years of bowl ban, so, this class coming in will be able to play.