Check out Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien's comments to the media following his Nittany Lions' 34-7 win against Navy on Saturday afternoon.
* Transcript provided courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
Can you describe your emotions as you addressed your team after this game?
O'Brien: I felt very good for this football team. I felt in many ways that it was a long time coming. I told them that it was one win and all of the hard work they put in this week and past weeks paid off. But it's just one win, now we have to soak it in tonight. We have to get back to work on Monday and get ready for a very, very good Temple team.
Matt McGloin last week said how badly he wanted to get a win not just for the team, but you. What does that mean to you for him to say something like that?
O'Brien: I've said this from day one and it relates to this football team that's in that locker room right now. I feel very close to this football team and our staff. This is a great group of kids. When you think of all of the things that they've been through, 18-, 19-, 20-years old, it's a neat group of kids. I don't think in your coaching career that you'll have a chance, in my opinion, to be around many groups of kids like this. That says a lot coming from me, because I've been around some pretty special football teams. I just feel great for these football players here at Penn State today.
The first win as a Penn State head coach, how does that feel after a couple of tough losses the first two weeks?
O'Brien: Winning feels great. Obviously in the history of Penn State football, there's been a lot more wins than losses. It feels great, but again it's only one win. I feel really good for our players and staff. I thought the student body was just awesome today, I really did. They were just great. Like I told the team, we have to get treatment tomorrow, take care of the bumps and bruises. On Monday, we have to get ready for a very, very good Temple team, who's coached by a good friend of mine, Steve Addazio. They're a very, very good team. It's time to move forward pretty quickly here.
Can you talk about Allen Robinson and his emergence?
O'Brien: He's just a really good, young receiver. He works extremely hard at the game, studies the game. He's a fantastic kid, he's always got a smile on his face. Really, really enjoys playing here. He's just a fun guy to coach, like a lot of these guys. I feel great for Allen. Again it's only three games for him, but he's had a very solid year to this point. But he knows and we know that he can get better and that's what he's going to try to do, starting Monday.
Can you give an update on some of the injured guys that didn't play today and how close they are to returning? O'Brien: I'd say that Donovan Smith should be ready to go for Temple. Again, check back in with me early in the week. Billy Belton, that's was a tough ankle deal that he had, so we'll see how he's doing early in the week. He's still day-to-day, I would say. Derek Day, that's a shoulder separation, that's a very painful injury, so that's a day-to-day deal. Ty Howle, our backup center, should be back for this Temple game. He's been out with a torn pec. He should be back, he's a very important part of that offensive line. Pete Massaro has had some ups and downs with his knee, he's a very tough kid. You guys can ask me that now until the end of the season, that's day-to-day.
How about the tradition of singing the Alma Mater after the game? Are you a baritone or a bass?
O'Brien: I messed that up in the first game. I was supposed to do that in the first game. I'm going to continue to talk to the band director about that, because that felt very good after a win. With the Naval Academy and Penn State, what we agreed on was that we would sing with their band and they would sing with our band. I thought that was pretty neat, to me that's what college football's all about. I thought it was pretty cool.
Can you talk about the decision not to kick the field goal when you were up to 20-0?
O'Brien: I think it was on the eight-yard line. I felt good about the play call, it had nothing to do with Sam Ficken. I just felt good about the play call that I had at that point. Obviously, it didn't work out. We blew the protection on that. I wouldn't take that call back, I just felt really good about that play call.
Is there anything you see on film that allows Allen Robinson to get open? Are you surprised he's had so many receptions?
O'Brien: I'm not surprised. We would definitely like to spread it around more than we have. I think we threw to a bunch of guys today. I think there's a bunch of guys that had one or two catches. Again, he plays a position that's always in a formation where he has a chance to be singled up. A lot of times, he's singled up and that's part of the read. It's not like we're just saying, throw to Allen no matter what. We never do that, Allen knows that and Matt knows that. He's part of the read and he's done a very good job to this point of catching the football and making some plays.
Can you talk about the pressure you put on Navy's quarterbacks and Stanley and Hodges' play out there?
O'Brien: That was a big play, because that was a fairly long drive. (Coach)Ted (Roof) and I both have a lot of experience with option football. We know Navy is a very, very tough, well coached football team. In our experience against option football, you have to try to change it up. You can't stay in one front or one coverage the whole game and expect yourselves to stop them. We felt that was a really good game plan. I thought Ted called a heck of a game and more importantly, I thought the kids played great. On that play, Sean Stanley is a guy I should mention more. He plays extremely hard, he was a captain today. I wish we had him for a longer period of time. Obviously, Gerald's a heck of a football player and made a great play on that one.
Can you talk about Michael Zordich? He filled in pretty well for you guys today.
O'Brien: He's a tough kid, a Youngstown (Ohio) kid. His dad was a captain here. Michael and I have had a lot of conversations about his role on the football team. He's always reminded me that, 'I used to run the ball in high school, coach'. It's like being Ferris Bueller's teacher, it's over and over. He's a great kid and with the injuries there, we felt that he was a guy that we wanted to get on the field a little more. I thought he did well for the most part. He's got to get his pads down at times, but for the most part he did a good job.
You guys have forced eight turnovers the last two games. What has led to that?
O'Brien: Again, I think we practice that. At the beginning of practice like most teams in practice, we work on stripping the ball, we work on strip sacks, interception drills, loose ball drills and how to recover the football. We talk about the rules and how it relates to turnovers and blocked kicks. It's always emphasized and I think our kids have done a great job of being alert to those things. It's really helped over the last couple of games.
Was Jordan Hill the mystery running back and were you going to give him the ball before that penalty?
O'Brien: I'm not telling. Oh, is he the mystery running back? Yea, he is part of that mystery running back committee.
Can you talk about things you will take from this game and work on in practice?
O'Brien: I thought we made a couple chunk plays down the field which was good. We threw the ball down the field a little bit. I thought that was good. I thought we ran the ball good from tackle to tackle, we just had a couple missed assignments there. We have to fix that up. I think overall our passing game is okay, but I know it can be better. So I want to clean that up. We didn't actually drop back and throw it too much. Matt had some really nice plays though in the first half where he hit the in-cut to Allen. We know we have some work to do there but it's coming along. The second team players here are in my opinion really good players and they are a heartbeat away and I want them to go in there and play better. I think that is something we can work on during the week too.
You guys have created a lot of turnovers. Meanwhile, Matt McGloin and the offense has not turned the ball over a lot. Can you talk about that?
O'Brien: That is something that wherever I've been, we've always emphasized that. We've got to take care of the football. Matt does a pretty good job. When the rush is coming in on him, he has two hands on the ball and it's close to his body and I think he does a pretty nice job keeping the ball away from defenders. He does a decent job of taking the sack or throwing the ball away. I thought he made a couple of decent scrambles today. Those are things that he has really worked on. We've harped on it with him and I'm happy for him today.
Is there anything more than a big win that gives attitude to this team? Have you thought about that at all?
O'Brien: The one thing that winning does is it cures a lot of things. Winning also breeds confidence. When the guys go out there and start fast, and we didn't play the most unbelievable game, the guys have confidence from lifting all those weights in the summer, or from practicing the way we practice, there's a reward for that and we know how to win and we can win. Now we have a new staff that knows how to win. These players know how to win. Like I've said from day one, there's nothing that any of us can do about the NCAA. All we can do is play under the rules in which they say to play under. So that's what we're doing and these kids have really stuck together. This group of players in the locker room right now are just really high character kids that have come together. It's one win and hopefully we can build on it.
What were you thoughts on Deion Barnes today?
O'Brien: I just think Deion Barnes is a good player. I know Larry (Johnson) probably gets mad at me a lot because I talk about him so much, but he is a really good football player that has a huge future. If you've coached in the National Football League and you know what a good pass rusher looks like, like a Tamba Hali, like a DeMarcus Ware, I'm not saying he is there yet. But the way he gets off the football, he uses his hands, the way he gets off the edge, the way he understands where the quarterback sets up and the way he tries to strip the ball shows his potential. As a young player trying to do that, you know he has a bright future and I just think he is a great kid and I am happy for him.
Obviously Allen Robinson had a big game today. But can you talk about Trevor Williams and Brandon Moseby-Felder today and their efforts?
O'Brien: All those receivers had a really good week of practice. They came ready to work. They are coached very well by Stan Hixon. Really again, it just comes from that phrase "next man up". That's what they did. Moseby-Felder has got a lot better over the last three to four weeks of practice. He was going to play anyways. It's next man up with him and I think he really did some decent things today.
How would evaluate Paul Jones today? Do you expect to get him more involved against Temple?
O'Brien: Yea, we will get him more involved. He's a great kid. I was glad to see him catch that ball. That was good and a good start for him. He also had a couple of blocks in there which was good to see. We got to keep building that package with him.
Were you expecting the shower at the end? Do you think that sealed the deal for what this win meant?
O'Brien: I wish they didn't do that. I think it's more about the players. It's really about the players and this staff. I am soaking wet right now and it was one game. I heard the crowd so I knew something was up. I think it was (Gerald) Hodges, of course, and probably (Michael) Mauti. So they probably enjoyed it and will get a laugh about it tonight when they are sitting around and commiserating about the game.
A lot of offensive linemen were in and out of the game today. Can you talk about that decision and are you still trying to figure things out up front?
O'Brien: We had some injuries. We had Donovan out today. I think when we got it to 34-7, we put some guys out there. Shrive played some tackle early in the game. I like our starting five that we began the year with and Donovan Smith in there. But there are also some guys like Angelo Mangiro, Eric Shrive, Ty Howle and Nate Cadogan that we need to build for the future. You try to learn by playing. That's what we need to do.