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September 21, 2013Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien addressed reporters following his Nittany Lions' big 34-0 win against Kent State on Saturday afternoon.
Check out the complete transcript, right below:
* Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
Where do you access yourself going into the bye week?
O'Brien: We're 3-1 and we're happy to be 3-1. Would we love to be 4-0? Of course we would, but 3-1 is better than 2-2. We feel decent about where we're at. We have a bye week for a few things. We can get healed up and we can also self-scout and just try to improve as a football team. I think it comes at the right time for us, four games in. Hopefully it will help us.
I know you want six every time, but how pleased are you with Christian (Hackenberg) and the rest of the offense in the red zone?
O'Brien: You're right. We want touchdowns when we get down there. I'm pleased with the red area production. There were some things today that we have to execute better or I have to make a better play call. I think overall, it's been decent. Sam (Ficken) has kicked the ball; it's just fantastic the way he's kicked the ball. I think that was the longest field goal since the `70s. That's a heck of a kick. That wasn't in the red area, it was a 54-yarder. I think we can make improvements there and we will.
Do you think your team got better today?
O'Brien: I think we did. I think anytime you win, it's like salt water, it cures a lot of things. It gives you a chance to go back and watch the tape and, again, try to dissect the things you're doing wrong and try to improve. Anytime you win, your team gets better. They gain confidence, they trust in one another and gain more trust in one another. Like I've said, it's just a fantastic group of kids to coach. You just can't say enough; you cannot say enough about these kids and how they come to play every single week and every day in practice, just a bunch of great kids.
How would evaluate Christian's performance today?
O'Brien: I think he had some good throws, I think he had some throws he'd want back. He'll get better from this. He'll watch the tape. I think he's probably a little frustrated tonight. That's okay. That's the mark of a fantastic player and that's what he is. He'll get better and you'll see improvement as we go along here. I have to watch the tape closely to really grade it. I'm sure, just as I want a few play calls back, he wants a few throws back.
Earlier in the week you talked about Deion Barnes. He got a sack today, a tackle for loss and had some good numbers. Was it good to see that production for him?
O'Brien: Deion, in my opinion, is a heck of a football player. I think he's had a good year. Maybe some of you should come in and watch the film, I'll point it out to you. I think the guy's done a great job this year, I think he's a fantastic player. I'm very, very glad he's on my team and not on somebody else's team.
Do you enjoy coaching in the rainy weather like this? Can a team gain something out of shutting a team out in this type of weather?
O'Brien: I just enjoy coaching. I love to coach. I really just enjoy going out there and being able to coach with the other coaches and the players. It really doesn't matter to me what the weather is. It wasn't a great day, some rain and obvious things like that. I said when I was hired here, the type of team we want to be is a smart, tough football team that can play in all types of weather. I think, at times, we've shown that. That's what we showed today.
You mentioned coming into the bye week and getting healed up. It seemed that you came out of today relatively healthy. How key was that?
O'Brien: I think so. I think (Ryan) Keiser might have something. I think we're relatively healthy and that is good. That's a credit to our training staff, a credit to the kids for taking care of their own bodies. It's good that we don't have major, major injuries. Obviously Mike Hull, that's a big injury for us, because he's a good football player, but he'll be back if the bye week helps him get healed up and things like that. Obviously, losing Matt Lehman, that's not the greatest thing in the world, anytime you lose a 6-foot-7 tight end. Brad Bars, with the Achilles, that was tough. Overall, we try to keep that at a minimum and it's worked out so far.
Will you assess that play of Ryan Keiser today?
O'Brien: It's hard for me to assess it, I have to watch the tape. Just from watching from the sideline, I thought he did a heck of a job. What a fantastic kid. He's from Selinsgrove, Pa. A very mature guy; he's married. He just has a great perspective on life and he's a great Penn State kid. I was happy to see him go out there and play well today, just a fun guy to coach.
Can you talk about your running game and how you plan to use all three guys moving forward?
O'Brien: I think if you've followed the teams I've been around, whether it was Georgia Tech or Maryland, we ran the ball pretty well there and in New England. We used a lot of backs at those places. I believe in using a lot of backs, I really do. I know some teams want to use one back. Sometimes we do, we try to go with the hot back. We think that all three of these guys are good football players. They're practicing well, it's a competitive spot. We think all three deserve to play, so we rotate them in there. I thought all three played well today. Von Walkergot in there at the end and he stuck a few in there.
Akeel (Lynch) didn't get in until the third quarter and he ran for 120 yards. How comforting is it that you can go to three guys like that and have all of them be effective in the game?
O'Brien: You're right about him only getting in during the third quarter. I think it was more because of the lack of offensive production. I think what we try to do is go every two series with those guys and it just didn't work out to get him in there earlier. We'll continue to look at that. It's great for him to go in there. I know it sounds redundant, but he's just an awesome kid. He's from Canada and Buffalo and just works extremely hard. He had a great offseason. I'm just very, very happy to see him do well.
Once again, the fans stuck through this today. Can you talk about from your perspective what it was like to see them hanging in there and supporting you guys?
O'Brien: I just think it's a special place, anytime you can come to a Penn State football game and it's pouring rain and you see that student section. I thought the turnout was pretty good for a rain game. You just can't say enough about these fans, the way they cheer and the band, the way the band plays, and what they mean to our staff and players. It just means a lot. They were there at the end singing the alma mater with us and that's a great feeling. Penn State football is alive and well. We're going to keep battling, we're going to keep fighting. It's great to have fans like these.
Bill Belton seemed to give you guys a spark on the first scoring drive. He seems to be cutting better and playing better all around this season. How much of that is that he's had a year under his belt playing that position?
O'Brien: I think that's a big part of it. I think when you look at when we came here, we moved him from receiver to running back. I do, I think it takes a little time. Even though he was a high school quarterback, he played in the backfield, it takes a little time. Then he got injured, he had a high ankle sprain for a lot of last year. He missed a lot of time. He's come into this year, he did well academically in the summer time, he had a really good training camp. He's practiced well and he's played well. He was upset that he didn't get that touchdown at the end. I was upset at him too, just kidding. He did a good job today and it was fun to watch. You guys need to ask me some defense questions, they're just offense questions right now. The defense just pitched a shutout and you guys were all over them last week and they just pitched a shutout. I thought the defense played a hell of a football game today. They pitched a shutout and I think John Butler and that crowd of coaches over there and players over there did a hell of a job.
After all of the criticism they took last week, was that something that was a big motivation for them? Did they take that to heart?
O'Brien: Anytime you go out there and you don't perform the way you think you should perform, and you're a good football player, which we have, and you have good coaches on that side of the ball. We're demanding of each other, we're very competitive people, players and coaches. It's a disappointment. Those guys took it to heart. You'd have to ask them what they read. I know this, they came out and they practiced every single day. John did a great job putting together a good game plan for this team. I don't know what the stats were, but it looked to me that it was a struggle to move the ball offensively for Kent State. I thought our defense did a whale of a job.
Was Adam Breneman hurt? He didn't get in until late.
O'Brien: We went with Kyle Carter and Jesse (James) today more. We just decided to do that. Adam's doing a great job, he's practicing hard. Kyle was injured in the Syracuse game and is back to full health right now. He's playing pretty well in practice. We decided with our personnel groupings to go with Kyle and Jesse a little bit more than Adam, that's just the way it worked out.
On several series, you used three offensive tackles. Is that a new wrinkle?
O'Brien: I've had good experience in the past with that, especially in the NFL. In New England, we had Nate Solder. We played him at tight end his rookie year. Those are some things we like to do. It's a little different in college because of the rules. He's an ineligible player in college. In the NFL, he reports and he's eligible. We have to work around that a little bit. We play by the rules. I think that does give us and added physical presence, with Garry (Gilliam) out there.
It seemed like you guys had a matchup and tried to get the ball to Allen (Robinson) on the fade a few times. Was that symbolic of maybe some timing that you didn't have today compared to other games?
O'Brien: We have to go back and continue to practice that. Again, we have to coach it better, it starts with me. Coach it better and execute it better with both Christian and Allen. We'll get better at that. I thought at times, the ball was thrown a little flat or at times, maybe Allen could've run a better route. That didn't work out too well today.
What's the plan, looking forward, for the bye week?
O'Brien: Tomorrow will be their day off. They have a mandatory day off, the NCAA rules dictate that. Monday, we''ll bring them in and we'll go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We'll think about giving them Friday off. They have to go to class, obviously, on Friday. Maybe they can go home, if they can, for the weekend and be back Sunday for dinner and let's get ready to go. We have a very, very tough schedule ahead of us, starting with Indiana. Kevin Wilson, who I have a ton of respect for, has done a great job with that program. It's going to be a tough opponent.
You were able to establish the running game in the third quarter, but even when Hackenberg was struggling, you allowed him to throw some. Is that just trying to get him some confidence and a little more practice?
O'Brien: No, it was more just the play calls. Again, I wish I had a couple play calls back. I thought we were running the ball well. There was one series, where I threw the ball three plays in a row and I should've been booed on that. I have to call better plays there. I have complete confidence in Christian. He's a tremendous young quarterback and he's got a great future. It wasn't about building his confidence or anything else. We were just calling the game and I should've called some better plays at times. It felt like the run game was going and we stuck with that the rest of the half.
There was a point there when you got the guys jacked up a little, up 14-0. What did you say to them there?
O'Brien: We have a high standard here at Penn State, on offense, defense and on special teams. We have a ton of confidence in our players and ourselves, our ability to coach the game. We just want everybody to be on the same page of what that standard is. When you go out and play a division I football game, you have to be focused, alert. You have to be into the game every single snap of the game. I think that's what I was trying to drive across to the offense at that point and time. Eventually, they picked it up pretty well.
It looked like you were moving the defense ends around. Is that something you devise just to try to get a better pass rush?
O'Brien: We're a multiple front team. We don't just lineup in one front on every snap. I think John does a great job. He's a very bright guy, he's a very creative guy along with that staff, Larry (Johnson), Ron (Vanderlinen), Anthony Midgett in there. They have two great GA's in Tim Kelly and Will Long and they have really smart players over there with (Glenn) Carson and Obeng (Stephen Obeng-Agyapong) and (Ben) Kline played a lot today and (Nyeem) Wartman; the defensive line with Barnes and (DaQuan) Jones. We move those guys around. I thought it went well. I thought the secondary played well with Keiser, (Malcolm) Willis, (Jordan) Lucas and (Trevor) Williams. Those guys did a good job and some of those other guys got in there too and contributed. We're a multiple defense and we'll keep trying to mix it up and try to give people different pictures.
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