Protecting the Pigskin

Protecting the Pigskin

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien explains how 1,000-yard rusher Zach Zwinak can cut down on fumbles.


For the record, Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien was overwhelmingly positive when discussing running back Zach Zwinak during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week.

He's the No. 1 running back heading into camp. He's ahead of schedule in his rehab from a serious wrist injury sustained in the spring. He is always facing the goal line when he is tackled.

As for O'Brien's direct quotes on the 1,000-yard rusher from 2012:

“He's 240 pounds. He runs with a pretty good lean. He's strong. And he's tough. He's got that unique ability to hit and split, too. He can bend and get his body twisted where he can hit and split two tacklers that are coming to tackle him. He's a big kid.”

So you get the picture.

But O'Brien's most interesting comments on Zwinak came when he was asked if the redshirt junior must improve on holding on to the pigskin. Zwinak fumbled five times in 2012, all of them in the final six games. The Lions lost four of them.

“He's got to do a better job with ball security,” O'Brien admitted. “He gets frustrated by that. That's all about focus. I think I might make him carry a football around campus this fall.”

O'Brien then gave a demonstrative breakdown of how running backs should protect the football. You can see his little instructional session above.

When O'Brien was finished explaining how backs can avoid fumbles, he was asked if he was really going to make Zwinak tote a pigskin around campus.

“No, no, no,” he said, laughing. “I don't do that.”

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