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October 15, 2013Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien answered questions during his 10-minute allotment of time this afternoon for the weekly Big Ten Coaches Teleconference.
Check out what he had to say, right here:
Did you change the practice schedule for early this week considering you played 4 hours, 11 minutes Saturday night?
OB: Yeah, we definitely did. Yesterday, basically what we did is we went out there and had a scrimmage with our younger guys. Tried to get some improvement there. Then our older guys conditioned and that was about it for them. We'll practice today, tomorrow and probably Thursday, but you're right, a four-overtime game was a long football game and the biggest goal for us this week is to get healthy.
What did you tell Christian with the ball and 50 seconds left?
OB: We go over the situation that we're in. We have no timeouts, needed a touchdown to win, we talk about the plays, the coverages that we expect. This is something I'm sure a lot of programs do. This isn't unique to Penn State, but we practice the two-minute drill every single day, basically Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So, we try to mix up the situations, and hopefully maybe two or three times during the year, those situations come up and our players have an idea of how to react, and then they have to go out there and execute. We were fortunate enough to do that on Saturday.
Of the three passes Christian completed on that drive, which was the most impressive?
OB: I don't know. I think they were good reads. I think that you have to say that on all three of those, the first one to Allen, made an incredible catch. Gotta give credit to Allen. Brandon Felder went up and got the ball on the second one, and then obviously, Allen on the last one down to the half-foot line there, did a great job. I would give the credit there to the receivers that went up and made those plays, Brandon and Allen.
There was a report that for your local radio show, fans were instructed not to ask about the Indiana game. Could you comment on that and maybe general thoughts on interacting with fans in those forums?
OB: Yeah, I don't know about that. I heard that too. Whether that happened or not it didn't happen when I was there, and I will tell you that any question that anybody wants to ask me, they can ask me. I'm going to answer it however I feel like answering it. I'm not sure that that happened. I'm not in charge of my radio show, but if that did happen, I will make sure that doesn't happen again. My thoughts on those things are, it's a free country. I've said that before. Anyone can ask any question they want and certainly, I can answer any way I want to. I apologize if that did happen, but I wasn't there. When I was there, that wasn't said. Hopefully, if it was said, it'll never happen again.
What kind of influence did Bill Belichick have on how you deal with the media?
OB: Well, I think everybody has to be themselves. That's all I try to do. I try to answer the question to the best of my ability. I just try to be myself and I think what I learned from Bill, I'll keep between Bill and I. I observed obviously a lot of different things in New England and learned a lot of things there and contributed my share also, but I just try to answer the questions to the best of my ability and I really respect the media. I really do. If you just look at the local media here, the beat writers here, some of these men and women here I really respect. I'm not going to get into all the individual names, but I appreciate the job that they have to do and I try to answer the questions to the best of my ability.
Are there any plays from Saturday night that will stick in your memory for a while?
OB: I don't know, I'd have to probably wait until the end of the year. Really, I'm, our staff, our players, we've moved on. We've gotta start getting ready for the best team in our conference, Ohio State. But, yeah, there's certain plays. Obviously the throw and the catch by Allen, the throw from Christian to Allen there at the end of regulation, and Billy's fourth-and-1 run. Those are two plays. I think Zettel's interception early in the game. The strip-sack there that we had on them at one point. I just think there are four or five plays that stood out, and those are some of them.
Six games into the schedule, could you assess Hackenberg? What are you happy with and where is there room for growth?
OB: Sure. I believe he's improved every week. Like I said, I think I said this a couple of weeks ago, every time he sees something is basically the first time he's seeing it at the college level. Now we head to Ohio State and he's playing a game in one of the most famous stadiums in the history of college football. So, that will be new for him. I think he's improved every week. I think he's a focused guy. I believe we just always have to continue to improve with his accuracy and his mechanics and his knowledge of the offense. I think he'll do that. But, I'm very pleased with where he is right now.
He's obviously confident, but what can that drive do for a guy like that?
OB: That's probably a better question for him, but I can tell you that obviously anytime you win a game like that and you have a drive like that, it helps your confidence, it helps you the next time when something like that and a situation like that comes up. You've already accomplished that type of situation, so it helps when it comes up again. Again, I think he'd probably be best to answer that, but I'm sure it helps in his development.
How has Akeel Lynch done the first half of this year? What does he need to do better to get more playing time?
OB: He's doing well. He practices hard. He's a great kid. He's a great teammate and I think in the last game, we had an idea going in that we were going to rotate three backs, and then once we had Billy in there, we felt like Billy was doing some things really well. So, we didn't really want to take Billy out, and that's the decision that I made. That's my decision. It's not a reflection on Akeel Lynch. We think the world of Akeel Lynch and we'll continue to try to work him into the lineup.
Some players talked about Michael Robinson and Matt Millen speaking to them last week, talking about starting fast. How import is it to start fast from here on out?
OB: I think Michael Robinson spoke to the team on Thursday or Friday. Matt Millen, he was here doing the game. He didn't speak to the team. He was working. But, I think it's important to start fast. Every time you come out, you want to try to start fast. You're not trying to start slow. I think it's important and a lot of it has to do with the opening script on offense and defense. A lot of it is coaching. We've gotta continue to try to find ways to move the ball down the field earlier or to stop people early. I think if we do that and our players understand the gameplan, then we'll start the games better and better as we move on.
What aspects draw you to college football?
OB: Well, I really enjoy watching, 18, 19, 20, 21-year old guys improve. I enjoy watching these guys get their degrees. I enjoy scenes like Saturday night in Beaver Stadium with 108,000 fans, and the student section, I enjoy the student body here at Penn State. Obviously, I've said this time and time again, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the National Football League and always well, and I have a lot of respect for college football and what it's meant to me and my career and the people that I've met because of both leagues. But, I just think the coaching aspect here at the college level is fun for me and I've enjoyed my 18 games here to this point.
Could you talk about your defensive effort against the run? What does that do for their confidence?
OB: Well, again, I think the players went out and executed a really good gameplan put together by John Butler and the defensive staff. Our players played extremely hard and Michigan's players played extremely hard. It was a very, very hardfought game and our defensive players, I thought that they really played with great intensity and effort the whole night, and obviously going forward, we have to continue to do that and I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff on that side of the ball, led by John Butler.
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