Here are the highlights of the call.
• The connection was terrible. It took about 10 minutes to get O'Brien on the call. When they finally did get him on, it was like an echo chamber. “It sounds like we're speaking to each other in a tunnel,” he said at one point.
• On if he has picked a starting QB: “The biggest thing is that we have two really good, young quarterbacks. Really, my biggest concern is the football team. The entire football team understands where we're at right now. We have two young quarterbacks and those guys have to be ready to play for us this year.”
• On if he could clarify that: ”I don't know, it might come next week. Hey, it might come the first play of the game on offense. We're all (talking) about this clarification stuff. It's my job to run the football team. I'm always going to do what's best for the football team. “This has nothing to do with indecisiveness or doing this or doing that. All I care about is that guys in our team meeting room know where we're headed. That's all I really care about.”
• On opening vs. Syracuse: “We're very excited for the start of the season. We know we're playing a fantastic opponent in Syracuse. We've been watching a lot of them on film. … We have to meet the challenge and it starts today. We start working on them today.” The odd thing is that Tuesday he said the team was starting to work on Syracuse prep then.
• On true freshmen who are standing out: “On offense we have Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman. I believe down the road, not in the Syracuse game, but we think Andrew Nelson can help us this year at tackle. He's a talented young guy. And Richy Anderson will play for us.
“And then defensively, I think it's a little different deal. Right now, I don't see a lot of true freshmen helping us over there -- off the top of my head. (I think he forgot about Brandon Bell as a backup LB.)
“One run-on freshman I think can help on special teams is Von Walker. He's come in and done a nice job for a young guy.”
• LB Ben Kline “has been practicing; he's a tough kid.” He also noted that Kline is a 4.0 student. Kline has missed practice time with a shoulder injury.
• On playing in an NFL stadium in the New York City area: “I think it is really important to, not every year, but maybe every two or three years play a neutral-site game. We've talked about playing at MetLife and down the road playing at other NFL venues. I think it's good for your program and good for your kids.” He added that there are as many as 40,000 PSU alums in the NYC area and, “Hopefully they're all coming to the game.”
• I asked how this game came about. He did not know. “This game was scheduled before I was here. I didn't have anything to do with it.”
• On preparing for the Syracuse offense considering the Orange have yet to announced a starting QB: “In this day and age of college football, you have to be ready for everything, whether it's a pro-style attack or a shotgun attack. We do it all offensively here at Penn State, so we give our defense a lot of exposure to a lot of different schemes. We know it's gonna be tough playing them. They're an excellent opponent. … We're just looking forward to the challenge.”
• On new starting CBs Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas: “They've had productive training camps. They've gotten their hands on a lot of balls and they've tackled well. They've communicated well. They play well in zone and man coverage. They're bigger guys.” He said it will probably be a “little nerve wracking” when they get on the field as starting CBs for the first time.
• On RB Bill Belton: “He's had a good training camp. He did very well academically this summer and has come back and really had a productive training camp. He's a good kid and looks to be a little bit quicker, a little bit faster. And he's catching the ball well.”