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September 14, 2013Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien took reporters' questions following his Nittany Lions' 34-31 loss to Central Florida Saturday night. Check out the transcript, right here:
* Transcript courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
You talked about Blake Bortles during the week. Was he even better than you thought he was?
O'Brien: No, [Blake Bortles] is a heck of a player. They have a good football team; you have to give them a lot of credit. They're well coached. We made too many mistakes tonight. They capitalized on them and you have to give them a lot of credit. He's a heck of a player. All credit to Central Florida.
UCF's offensive line seemed to dominate up front. Can you talk about what you saw there?
O'Brien: I have to watch the film. That's a good question, it really is. I have to watch the film and I'll probably talk more about it on Tuesday. They did a good job. We didn't tackle very well; they blocked us. We made some plays. Again, give them a lot of credit. They had a good plan, they have a great staff. We have a great staff. They beat us tonight fair and square. We just have to regroup tomorrow and figure out what we can do better. One thing I know about the guys in that locker room, like I've said a million times, I really enjoy coaching them and they never quit, they never quit. It's a lot of fun to coach these kids. We'll do better, we'll keep improving.
How would you assess the defense overall? You mentioned the tackling. What is your initial reaction?
O'Brien: I just saw that with the naked eye. I really have to watch the tape and see all of the snaps. I would be better equipped to answer that question on Tuesday and I will. Right now, it just looked to me to the naked eye that we made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball. We fumbled there at the end and we were rolling pretty good then. We just can't do those things. It didn't look like we tackled great. We have to do a better job coaching. Anytime you lose, it's a team loss, everybody's in it together. We'll try to improve every single day.
Talk about the fans being the 12th man. They stuck with you the whole time.
O'Brien: Yeah, the fans, I can't say enough about these fans. Again, I wish, obviously, we would've won tonight for those fans. All I can tell you is, please keep coming to the games. I think we've got a great bunch of kids here that never give up and they love playing for Penn State. Tonight was a tough night, but it was a heck of a game, I thought. I just really want those fans to keep coming, because they make a big difference to our kids.
Did you think you would get more pressure on the quarterback? Were you worried that you might have to outscore this team?
O'Brien: I don't know. I felt pretty good about the way we were playing coming in. Obviously, again, it's a team loss. We made mistakes on both sides of the ball. We'll try to watch the film tomorrow and look at all of those things you just asked about, the pressure and things like that. I'm not equipped to answer that right now. It's a team loss. Both sides of the ball need to improve, special teams need to improve. Nobody's going anywhere. We're just going to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and figure out what we can do better and coach these guys better and get them to play better. Like I told the kids after the game, `We're with you; you're with us through thick and thin. Everyone look in the mirror and see what we can do better tomorrow.
How would you assess the way they ran the ball offensively and how you tackled when they were running?
O'Brien: I appreciate the question. I have to watch the tape. Obviously, both sides of the ball need to play better. I'll watch the tape. I'll be better equipped to answer that on Tuesday.
Zach Zwinak ended up having a really good game and then he had the fumble. He fumbled a little last year, not so much this year. What did you see on that play?
O'Brien: I just saw it from behind. It just looked like they stripped it out. [Zach Zwinak] feels bad about that, I feel bad about that. He did, he ran the ball hard tonight. I love that kid. We're with him and he's with us. It's just a tough way to end it for him. He'll be fine. We have a lot of football left here and he'll be fine. He'll be just fine.
Could you explain Sam Ficken's last kick off?
O'Brien: There was 2:51 to go in the game and we had one timeout left so it was a decision you make there between whether to onside kick it or kick it deep. Obviously, they thought we were going to onside kick it. We felt like if we kicked it deep and try to kick it away from [Storm Johnson], land it inbounds and before the goal line, maybe we could chase it down. [Sam Ficken] tried to do it and it went into the end zone so it just didn't work out. We will keep working on that, but I did think that it was a good decision. I think overall, in 15 games here, we have managed things pretty well. That is one thing when you practice situations I think there are mistakes we made. I'm not saying everything is perfect, but I think we have managed situational football pretty well.
Where is Mike Hull injury-wise?
O'Brien: [Mike Hull] is a tough kid and I think he is giving us everything he's got. I have to watch the tape and evaluate his performance along with everyone else's, including mine, and I will be better equipped to talk about him on Tuesday.
Can you talk about the continuing struggles on third down and what you can do to remedy that?
O'Brien: I don't know. We scored and I think it does have to improve, I agree with you, it really does, and there is no doubt about that. I'm not a doctor and I'm not looking for remedies, but I'm just trying to figure it out with everyone else and we will get better on it. When you look at the point totals, at the end of the day, how many points you are scoring, it's not bad -- 45 last week, 23 the first week and 31 tonight. We are scoring points, but we definitely have to do a better job on third down.
What are your thoughts on Hackenberg's development so far?
O'Brien: I think [Christian Hackenberg] is learning with every snap. I think it is a very difficult position when you are 18 years old, but he is definitely up to the challenge and I love coaching him. He is a great kid and just a fantastic guy to have in our program and he will keep getting better and better every day. He's got that type of demeanor and I just think the world of that kid.
Was Trevor Williams hurt or did you just want to get a veteran corner (Amos) back there?
O'Brien: I haven't got the injury report yet, but that is probably what we were doing and maybe some of it was a different scheme we were using, but again, I will be better able to talk to you about that on Tuesday.
How difficult was it to defend against Blake Bortles?
O'Brien: Anytime you have a quarterback like [Blake Bortles], who is accurate, has a strong arm, is big, and can stand in the pocket and can run, it is a difficult challenge. He played a great game tonight and all the credit to him. I think he is a heck of a player. I didn't get a chance to meet him or say hello to him, but I think he is a heck of a player. He had a great game.
Did you get a chance to talk to O'Leary at all after the game?
O'Brien: No. It was quick. [George O'Leary] did a great job tonight and all the credit to them and I just shook his hand and told him he's got a hell of a team and he did a good job tonight.
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