O’Brien Looks to the Future, Offers Few Answers
Bill O’Brien’s weekly Tuesday press conferences are typically an opportunity to discuss the team, the previous game, and the upcoming matchup. But that wasn’t that case this afternoon as O’Brien took a lesson from his predecessor and essentially refused to discuss the Nittany Lions’ 44-24 loss against Indiana in Bloomington this past weekend.
Instead, O’Brien’s mind was focused on one thing and one thing only: Saturday night’s game against Michigan in a sold-out Beaver Stadium.
“We’ve moved on from Indiana,” O’Brien said. “We’re focused on Michigan. Our guys are very excited for the opportunity they have Saturday night against a very good 5-0 Michigan team in front of 108,000 fans.”
The media pressed on, though, trying to get O’Brien to offer some insight on Penn State’s first loss in 17 games against the Indiana Hoosiers. One reporter asked him if the team’s confidence is shaken.
“The team’s confidence isn’t shaken,” O’Brien said.
Another report asked him to elaborate on how the sanctions and scholarship reductions may be negatively effects the team, something O’Brien mentioned on Saturday after the Indiana game.
“I’m not talking about scholarships, sanctions, or anything,” he said. “I’m talking about Michigan. We feel like we got off to a good start on Monday. I’m not here to talk about last week’s game. I’m here to talk about Michigan and Michigan only, and our team.”
So that’s what he did.
Here are the highlights from today’s press conference:
On the injury front: Ryan Keiser is questionable for Saturday’s game against Michigan. O’Brien said that he “feels good about him” but that the team will know more by the end of the day tomorrow. Brandon Felder and Allen Robinson are both “a full go.” O’Brien added that Brent Wilkerson is doing well but won’t return this season.
On the offensive line’s progression this season: “Our offensive line has improved every week and will be ready to go on Saturday,” O’Brien said.
On Michigan’s defense: “The Michigan defense is from my knowledge a typical Michigan team,” O’Brien said. “They’re very stout up front on defense. Their secondary is very disciplined. We’re going to do the best we can to put together a good game plan and coach our guys up to go out there and execute the game plan.”
On Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner: “He presents a lot of problems,” O’Brien said. “He’s a dangerous guy because he can run and throw. There’s a number of guys like that in this conference. You really have to try to keep him in the pocket. The good thing about him is that he’s a great kid, a really nice kid who represents Michigan really well. It’s going to be a big challenge playing against him.”
On needing to improve the turnover margin: “We definitely work on that,” O’Brien said. “We do a lot of drills on that and coach it up. We drill it and we need to do a better job in that area. We need to emphasize it on film.”
On how the team has gained its resilient attitude: “I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist or anything. I just think that we have a fantastic group of kids,” O’Brien said.
On Allen Robinson: “He’s done a lot of really good things that started in the offseason,” O’Brien said. “He worked extremely hard on his own game, getting stronger, getting faster, and getting quicker. He worked hard with Christian when he arrived here. You have to give him a lot of credit for the year he’s having. He’s done a really good job to date this year.”
On the Michigan game being sold out: “This is the best college football atmosphere in the country. We can’t thank the fans enough.”
On whether or not Michigan is “just another game”: “It would be crazy to think this is just another game,” O’Brien said. “This is a big game. It’s a Big Ten game. We know it’s a rivalry.”