Bill O'Brien spoke to the media following his Nittany Lions' 45-22 win against Indiana on Saturday afternoon. Check out what he had to say, right here.
Can you give an update on Michael Mauti? Can you describe the impact he has on this team? O'Brien: I can't really give you an update. I don't know that yet. We meet about all of the injuries early in the week. I don't know the diagnosis. All I can say is, in your career, I've been fortunate to be around some special players. You're thinking about some of the players that you've had the fortune to coach. I've coached the greatest. I've coached a hall of fame quarterback, hall of fame receivers, great players and he's one of the most special players I've been around. Like I said from the day I got here, it's about that whole senior class. There's a bunch of special players in that class. He embodies, in my opinion, what Penn State's all about. He's tough, grind it out, smart. He's just a fantastic kid.
The way you are talking, is it safe to say that Michael Mauti has played his last down for you? O'Brien: No. I don't know the diagnosis yet.
Do you like how your guys responded after Mauti got hurt? O'Brien: I think this team's a bunch of resilient guys. Again, when a guy like that, who's a leader on your football team, goes down in a game, I think it was a good response. We have a bunch of veterans on defense, with Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson, Jordan Hill, and Stephon Morris. We have a bunch of guys that have played a lot of football. They did what they had to do and I think we got the offense going there around the second quarter.
Did any of your coaches see a replay and think the Mauti injury was a dirty play? O'Brien: No. I just came in from the game, I have no idea what happened on the play.
What did you say to your team in the huddle right after the injury occurred? O'Brien: I just gathered them up and what I said was between myself and the team. I don't think I said much there, I just wanted to get going.
You had a couple of single-season records broken on offense today. Eleven games in, how pleased are you with your offense and how your guys have performed this year? O'Brien: I'm very pleased. These kids are a really fun bunch of guys to coach. They work extremely hard, they're smart. Just seeing improvement all year, it's just a very, very special group of guys to coach. Our assistant coaches would say the same thing. They love to practice, they love to lift weights, and they love to condition. That bodes well for the future of Penn State football.
If you can think back to when you first met Matt McGloin and thought of what aspects he could improve, what has happened versus what you thought was possible? O'Brien: I knew right away that we had a competitive kid and we had a kid that football was very, very important to. The way he was on the field, in meetings, the way he took notes, the way he listened. You have to have those traits to be a successful quarterback. You have to, in my opinion, have a brain that can work fast, you have to be competitive, you have to have a huge desire to win, and he has that. He continued to work on it, his mechanics, footwork, and accuracy. He did a lot of that on his own with Charlie Fisher. Charlie works a lot with his technique and you have to give Charlie a lot of credit. He did a lot of that in the offseason. I saw him become a better leader. Knowledge is power, so when you know the offense and you know what to do and what everyone else is doing, you have a chance to be a good leader and I think he's done that this year. I remember when I thought we had a good guy here. We were in a meeting in spring practice and I put him up on the board and I said, 'draw this play up.' He drew it up within about three seconds, neatly, and he knew the read, what everyone did. He drew up the front, the coverage, the protection, where it was supposed to go. Things you guys wouldn't know, these are football things. It was gun trips right 64 special H sneak. I'll never forget it and it was bang. I just knew at that point that we had a kid that was working and wanted to be the starting quarterback.
McGloin had 395 yards and Allen Robinson had 197 yards. How special of a connection has that been? O'Brien: When you're work that much in the offseason, when you're working on routes and you're talking about different coverages and different situations coming up and you're just out there on the practice field working. 'If we get one here and I call the in-cut, how are you going to run it on this leverage? If we get three, how are you going to run the hitch here', I think that they worked a lot together and with a lot of the other receivers. I think a lot of those other guys have improved too. Allen is clearly the leading receiver for us and it's a nice combination with him and Matt.
Speaking on Allen Robinson, just the athletic plays he made today...is that pretty much what you expected from him when you first saw him? O'Brien: I always say that every guy is a little bit different, and he is a very unique athlete. He was a very good basketball player. In fact, last night he was telling us at dinner that he played high school basketball against a guy who goes to Iowa State. [Allen] had 36 points in the championship game and I think the other guy had 35, and they're talking about alley-oops, dunks and all of this stuff...I mean, this guy is an excellent athlete. So, that translates well to the football field. He has good hand-eye coordination. He can jump. He has the ability to lower his weight and change direction of routes. He has just done a really nice job. And staying with the development and understanding (wide receivers coach Stan Hixon), who brings a lot of pro experience, like how to run routes and how to work against a different leverage, has really helped Allen.
Are you going to be back next season to coach at Penn State? O'Brien: You guys gave legs to a story last week, and there's no story there. I'm focused on one game at a time. I'm focused on this football team. That's not something that I even think about. I think about the fact that I'm the head coach of Penn State, and I'm looking forward to getting this team ready for Wisconsin. We give legs to a story that isn't even there just because someone wrote an article. For me it's Wisconsin and this football team and this senior class. That's where I think that the question should be directed - Indiana, the senior class, getting ready for Wisconsin. I'm the head football coach at Penn State. I love coaching here and I can't wait to get back to work on Monday and get ready for Wisconsin.
The fourth-down play in the first quarter...was that your call or did Matt [McGloin] get into that when he saw that offensive momentum out there? O'Brien: That was a play where I think we were in empty set, and Matt has the option to check. And he checked. So who are you going to give credit to there? You have to give it to McGloin. He got us into the right play.
How do you think your secondary held up today missing Malcolm Willis, who is a very key player? O'Brien: I think it's hard any time you lose a guy like Malcolm. But those guys are resilient; they're tough. Maybe there's a bad play here and there, but they don't let it become a bad day. They'll rebound from plays. There was an 80-yard touchdown on the bubble screen there in the second half, and I thought that they rebounded nicely. They're competitive kids and John Butler does a nice job coaching them.
What explanation did you get for the sideline interference call? O'Brien: That's on me. I was in the white, and the guy ran into me. So that was on me.
You came back with (Zach) Zwinak after his fumble. Can you talk about his overall game and working through the fumbles with him? O'Brien: He has to get better at that. He's a heck of a player. We do strip drills. We put him through the blaster and we do a lot of different things to try to drill. But at the end of the day, the player has to do it. And he is a great kid and I think he'll improve on that. That was a bad fumble that he had today, and he knows that it was. I'm going to be hard on him because I just think he is a heck of a player, so he has to get better there.
Can you talk about the atmosphere today? O'Brien: I thought it was good. I didn't know what to expect. I cannot say enough about our fans. We have great fans here and I think that they support this team. And this team really appreciates it. I thought that the fans were really good today, and I hope that they're great next week. They were really good today, but I hope that they are phenomenal next week.
Can you talk about the interception by (Gerald) Hodges? O'Brien: Yes, what a great play. That's the type of player he is. He's an athletic player. He dove and was able to get his hand underneath it and scoop it in. I thought that that was a great play. That's just the type of player that he is.