O’Brien on the QB: “You’ll Find Out On Saturday”

This comes as little surprise after yesterday’s depth chart release, but Bill O’Brien made it official today when he announced that the football team’s starting quarterback will not be named before the first snap on Saturday.

“What I try to do every week is do what’s best for our football team,” he said at today’s press conference. “You’ll find out who the quarterback is on the first play of the game against Syracuse on Saturday. I’m not trying to diminish the importance of that position and what it means to this football team, but I want to what’s best for our players so that’s what I’m going to do.”

O’Brien added that the age of his two potential starters — freshman Christian Hackenberg and JUCO transfer Tyler Ferguson — has played into his decision.

“You got an 18 and 19-year-old guy here,” he said. “That’s part of it. They basically just got here to Penn State. Last year you had a seasoned guy who’s been here for a while. To me, it’s important going into a first game not really knowing what your opponent is going to do and I don’t think they know what we’re going to do.”

When asked for his thoughts on the public’s right to know about the quarterback situation, O’Brien stressed that he isn’t doing this to slight the media or the fans.

“The game of football is in many ways for the fans. It’s a spectator sport.,” he said. “I love the Penn State fans, they’re one of the best parts about this place. I’m not trying to do it to bust anybody’s chops. I just want to do what’s best for Penn State.”

Here are the rest of the highlight’s from the weekly press conference:

  • On the team’s training camp: “I felt like we had a very productive camp. Our guys came back and understood our expectations in camp. We’ve got some strong leaders on this team that showed the young players the game. Did we have great days every day? No. But I don’t think we had any bad days. We came out of it healthy, which I think is very important.”
  • Malcolm Willis vs. Ryan Keiser: “You’ll find out on Saturday who starts at safety for us. Both guys are really good players and they’ll both play for us,” although he called Keiser an “unsung hero” and said, “He’s a Pennsylvania guy that understands the meaning of playing at Penn State.”
  • On last year’s opener vs. this year’s opener: “This time last year was a blur. I was trying to do as good a job as I could with our staff to keep the team together and obviously personally I didn’t do a good enough job that first game. Last year is last year and this is a new year. It’s not about what I know, it’s about what the players know, and we’ve got great guys here to coach.”
  • On Syracuse also not naming a quarterback: “You can’t stay in the office until 4:30 in the morning trying to plan for ghosts and things that don’t exist. From what we know, they are two different quarterbacks, so we have to do a good job on defense of recognizing who’s in the game and making sure we’re ready for that.”
  • On the run-ons who received scholarships: “I’ve watched these guys over a long period of time. We don’t just hand out these things like candy. You have to earn it, and these kids earned it. They deserved it both on and off the field for representing our team. We felt like it was important for us to reward these guys. They were very appreciative, they’re great kids, and I announced it to the team the same day.”
  • On the linebackers: “We feel good about our linebackers starting with Mike Hull and Glenn Carson. They’re fantastic guys. We’ve got somewhat of a newcomer there in Nyeem Wartman who we think has a very good future and the future is now.”
  • On concerns about the heat: “That’s an issue for both teams. I think it’s important that the guys wear the right things when they play. I think it’s really important as coaches that we rotate them in as we can. The guys will be jacked up. There will be a little bit of hyperventilating going on. That’s not just a concern for us, but something that both sides are probably looking at.”

O’Brien added that freshman defensive back Neiko Robinson is no longer with the team. He said that the reason will stay between him and Robinson, but he said it is not related to discipline or any wrongdoing on Robinson’s part. “Neiko will play somewhere, it just won’t be at Penn State.”

Four days. Get ready.

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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