Penn State coach Bill O’Brien held his weekly press conference at Beaver Stadium Tuesday.
He talked about his outgoing class of seniors, who will play their final home game at Beaver Stadium when Nebraska visits this weekend. He talked about the Cornhuskers. And he talked about an old speaker that has been confounding coaches in the PSU Media Room for years.
Afterward, FightOnState.com's Mark Brennan and Greg Pickel broke down the PC. Check out their report above.
Transcript by ASAP Sports.
COACH OBRIEN: Just looking at the injury report to update you, there is really no major injuries, just a lot of bumps and bruises. Some guys that maybe held out of practice here and there, but should be ready to go on Saturday. Id say the most the biggest injury of all is on the coaching staff, Charles London went for a jog and broke his foot. So hell be in a boot for four to six weeks. That is probably the biggest injury news. One thing Id like to say is, you know, this is a very important game for many reasons. But probably the most important reason for our coaching staff is and myself personally is its the last home game for these seniors. So were putting everything we can into practice and making sure that we do as good a job as we can to help these seniors go out on a winning note. We know its a very, very tough opponent. Nebraskas a very, very good team, and its going to be a big challenge. But we just cant wait to come into Beaver Stadium and hopefully it will be a great crowd. Im not in charge of ticket sales or anything like that, but I would imagine that the Penn State fans will turn out in force to show their respect for this senior class that stuck with this university and stuck with this football program. So looking forward to the game on Saturday.
Q. What do you think this senior class has contributed to Penn State, and can you describe what kind of leader Pat Zerbe has been this season?
COACH OBRIEN: This senior class has contributed quite a bit. I think when you look at it there are a lot of different personalities in this senior class. You have guys that are obviously really good players that have played a lot of football for us. You have guys that are great students. We have a number of top?notch students. John Urschel gets a lot of pub and rightfully so because of his ability in the classroom. But there are many, many really good students in this class. You just mentioned one, Patrick Zerbe. Weve got a lot of guys that have already graduated and working on a second degree in some respects. So that to me is very, very impressive. Like I said, youve got a lot of good football players. You have guys in this senior class that have really embraced their role, whether its Stephen Obeng or Pat Zerbe or Alex Butterworth, whoever. Brandon Felder, whoever it may be, Garry Gilliam, theyve really embraced their role. So to me that is a big part of it too. To me they set the tone every week. They showed our younger guys how to practice and came back with intensity whether it was following a win or a loss. Again, they stuck with this university, they stuck with this program, and they didnt have to after the sanctions came out. I think that says it all about this class.
Q. You mentioned what a big Saturday it is coming up. Its Senior Day. I was just wondering if I could get your thoughts on the challenge of the next two weeks. I know you like to take it one game at a time. Its Nebraska and then Wisconsin. Do you feel like the next two weeks and how you guys play will kind of de?ne your season?
COACH OBRIEN: We are completely focused on Nebraska, Bob. I understand the question, but we, I mean, believe me, we are not thinking one minute about Wisconsin, I can promise you that. This Nebraska team is a really good team. Were taking it one practice at a time, one day at a time, and just very, very focused on Nebraska. I dont try to de?ne seasons. I leave that up to you guys.
Q. You just mentioned Garry Gilliam. He was on the list of players to be honored before the game on Saturday. He decided not to return for that sixth year he was granted. What did he mean to your program?
COACH OBRIEN: Again, Im not going to get into the discussions because those are personal between myself and some of these guys including Garry, Kyle Baublitz, Alex Kenney, those guys basically they sat down with me and theyve decided to move on to the next stage of their lives next year. Theyd like to be introduced on Saturday, so especially Baublitz and Gilliam. So thats what we decided to do. Those two guys are great guys. Theyve been really good players for us and good leaders for us. Were looking forward to watching them play these last two games, especially this last home game.
Q. On the senior class, how did these guys extendor advance what you and last years seniors put in place last year?
COACH OBRIEN: I think they did that in many ways. Number one is they did that through their work ethic. They continued to work hard in the weight room and on the practice ?eld and do it with intensity. I thought that was a big part of it. They continued to embrace their roles. As long as you were clear with what their role was and de?ned it for them, they embraced that role. They continued to develop the relationship with the coaching staff. I think thats a big part of it. You know, the biggest thing to me is that they understand the word team work and working together. They embrace the younger players. You think about it ten years from now when you look back on the last two senior classes, theyll be an important part of Penn State football history. Theyll be a part of it that however you guys de?ne the history of Penn State football over the last two years, I would say these two senior classes would be a big part of it.
Q. Kyle is from our area, and I just wonder if you could talk for a moment about Baublitz and maybe what kind of guy he was like to be around here. He didnt really get a chance to play much before you got there, but he has the last two years.
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, just ?rst of all, great person, really bright guy, excellent student. Comes from a great family. On the football ?eld a very, very tough kid. I dont know if anybody even knows, the last three or four weeks hes been playing with a bum ankle and hes played through it and hes played tough. That means a lot to us. When you play defensive tackle at this level, thats not easy, the day?to?day practice regimen and then playing in the games. Hes meant a lot to us. I think the younger players I know the younger players look up to a guy like that and know hes contributed a lot to this program.
Q. Id like to talk about one of your freshmen. As Christian has become more experienced and more comfortable in your offense, how much have you increased his workload youve given him from week to week? I was wondering if it was a steady progression. How would you say hes picked up the new information every week?
COACH OBRIEN: Weve de?nitely increased his package every week. I think if you look at last weeks game against Purdue, he made a lot more decisions at the line of scrimmage probably than he had made in most games. Some of those decisions he made on his own based on ?lm study which is really, really good. Thats when you know that a guy is starting to get it. So hes made tremendous strides and weve continued to feed him more and more of the playbook on a weekly basis.
Q. After the game on Saturday, the kickoff team struggled a little bit. You talked about assessing that and maybe make some personnel changes. What have you come up with in your assessment of that?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, were not going to make any personnel changes on that team unless its because of injury. Right now they seem to be healthy. Were going to coach it better, get these guys to study the ?lm better, get these guys to understand it a little bit better how to avoid blocks and on what side to avoid and things like that, lane discipline and all those things. We have a bunch of great kids on that team, that unit, and well continue to coach them.
Q. I wanted to ask you about another one of your seniors, Eric Shrive. He made his ?rst start for you guys on Saturday. I wonder if youve had any thoughts on his career both on the ?eld and off the ?eld and how youve seen him develop as a person in your time there?
COACH OBRIEN: Ive developed a close relationship with Eric. Hes a great kid, hes a tough kid. Scranton guy, what else would you expect? Im sure he would tell you his playing career maybe hasnt worked out exactly the way he saw it coming out of high school. But I tell you what hes brought a toughness to our practice ?eld. Hes worked hard, accepted his role every week. It was good to get him that start last week. Then off the ?eld, what else can you say about him? The work that hes done especially with Live for Life and involving the younger players to teach them how to carry that tradition on. The amount of money hes raised for kidney cancer research, you just cant say enough about what hes done. I really believe that Eric Shrive will go on, whatever he decides to do, hell be a big success at it.
Q. Did you get a chance to watch Matt play on Sunday for the Raiders? If so, what did you think? What is it about him thats made him whats been the Key to his development to go from walk on to NFL starter?
COACH OBRIEN: Did I watch Matt McGloin? Yeah, I watched the game. I thought he played a heck of a game. Thats not an easy defense to go against, Houston Texans, Wade Phillips, hes an excellent coach. Been in the NFL for a long time, J.J. Watt, some of the guys they have on that side of the ball. So I thought he played well, the team played well, they ran the ball well, and they were balanced. He completed passes. He threw the ball accurately, played with poise. Cant say enough about him. Hes a smart guy. Smart guys that work hard that have talent, they really thrive in that league. They really do. I think that hell thrive in that league.
Q. As a follow?up, how NFL ready do you think is Allen Robinson is? What do you think he needs to re?ne the most?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, Im not going down that road. Were very focused on Nebraska. Thats not a road Im going down. Thats ridiculous. So hes very focused on Nebraska. Hes looking forward to the Nebraska game.
Q. Really quick before I get to the big question, Matt Lehman is listed as being honored on Senior Day. Is that a sign that hes either going to apply for next year, or been denied one or thats just in case to leave that option open for him?
COACH OBRIEN: I think thats probably more a just in case deal. Were still waiting to hear on his application for a sixth year. Thats a just in case. I think that any guy, I just did this last year, I think its a special thing when you get introduced in front of the home crowd. So I want these guys, if this is their last home game, to have that opportunity because I think its a special thing. Its a special stadium. Again, I hate to use the word hope. Im not a big fan of that word sometimes, but Im hoping that its a great crowd. I think these kids deserve a great crowd, so I wanted to make sure he got introduced.
Q. I just want to ask about the offensive line. Watched them on tape the last couple weeks especially. Have you seen are they playing their best theyve played all year?
COACH OBRIEN: I think the offensive line has played ?ne all year. We have two guys that had over 700 yards rushing. When you look at the sack totals, some of those sacks are on the quarterback or on a missed pick up by the back. I mean, I dont know. You guys must think its not as good as I do. I think that the offensive line has played well all year. Theyve played tough. Theyve done everything that weve asked them to do and theyve been fun to coach.
Q. Can you talk about the development of Adam Breneman and how important thats been given the injury issues youve had at that particular position?
COACH OBRIEN: Hes come in and improved every single week. Hes had a couple of bumps and bruises too. He had an ankle and a foot. So this has been a few weeks ago. But hes really improved. When he played in high school, he was used as a wide receiver quite a bit in the slots. You know that. He wasnt asked to block a whole lot as an in?line blocker. Hes improved there. Hes stronger. The weight program has helped him already. Hes an excellent athlete in the open ?eld, and hell only continue to get better. Hell be a heck of a player for us. As long as he stays healthy, hell be a heck of a player for us here at Penn State.
Q. You mentioned the importance of this game. I know you dont like dealing with hypotheticals, but if youre able to win on Saturday, youd clinch a winning season. How important would that be to do that here at home?
COACH OBRIEN: Oh, yeah. Anytime you can have a winning season, I think its important to help you going into the off?season and things like that. No question about it. But I think the goal on Saturday is its not about clinching a winning season, its about going out there and doing everything we can against a really, really tough, good, Nebraska team to help our seniors go out winners. Thats the big deal to me.
Q. Can you talk about what you saw in Allen Robinson when you ?rst came here last year to get him as involved as you did as quickly as you did? Did you think when you ?rst came here he would end up being the player he is today?
COACH OBRIEN: No question about it. I remember we went out on the practice ?eld the ?rst time I was here, and he was a big guy. He was a fast guy. He was a bright?eyed guy. He was a competitive guy, and he was raw. He was raw. He was a young guy that hadnt played a lot before we got here because he was a freshman. But you could tell right away that he was going to be a really, really explosive, good player. Hes worked at it. Give him a lot of credit. Hes been coached well. I think hes in a good system for what we do. But give him a lot of credit. Hes done a great job and gone up and made some fantastic plays for us over the last two years.
Q. Coach, it sort of ?ew under the radar, but one of the new NCAA recruiting rules is there will be a dead period from November 16 to January 15. Bret Bielema said he was in favor of it because for a team in Arkansas that couldnt go to a bowl, it would help them get as many guys on the road as they could. You were in the same situation. Does that rule help you guys and what are your thoughts on it overall?
COACH OBRIEN: I think it de?nitely helps. Im in favor of more dead periods. I think that one helps for exactly the reason you just talked about. I think youre able to get more guys out on the road if youre not able to go to a bowl and things like that, which is one of your major jobs here is to be able to recruit. So getting guys out on the road is a good thing and getting more guys out is a good thing. In my opinion, there should also be a dead period in July and August, July and August. July is the time when coaches take some vacation and things like that. Then August is the time that were trying to get our teams prepared for the season with training camp. So Im of the opinion that there should be a dead period in July and August too, and I think this ones good too.
Q. Nebraskas has a game?changer in Evans and all the talent and the length they have in the secondary might be the most complex defense that Christian will see this year because of the blitzes that they bring from the inside and everything. Do you prepare differently because of that or is this just another week of game prep for Christian?
COACH OBRIEN: Every week is different, every team is different. This team, like you just said, is very, very talented. They have tall, rangy guys, physical guys at every position. They run well, theyre explosive players. Theyve played well. In my opinion, recently theyve played really well. I wouldnt say at many times its not the most complex, because the type of players they have, they play a coverage that is very, very dif?cult to go against. So thats going to be the challenge for us is can we get open against these guys and that will be the big challenge. But this is a very good team. One of the best teams weve played. Its going to be a big challenge for us on Saturday.
Q. Ameer Abdullah and their ground game, theyre a little banged up upfront. But can you talk about the challenge of holding him down presents to you?
COACH OBRIEN: Even since Martinez has been out hes become even more of a focal point for him. Hes a really good player. One of the best players in this conference, explosive guy. He runs with a great lean. Hes got great quickness. I think hes obviously got a pro career ahead of him. Hes just a really good football player and well have to make sure we know where he is on every play.
Q. Alex Kenney is from here and hes another one of the guys that seems like hes given up that last year. Can you evaluate his senior season? He hasnt gotten a lot of opportunities. Wheres he been in terms of his development?
COACH OBRIEN: Hes shown up to practice every week, hes played hard, practiced hard and done everything weve asked him to do. Hes a great kid. Just a really good kid in our program and a local guy. It hasnt probably worked out for him on the ?eld as much as he would have liked it to. But hes done everything weve asked him to do. Cant say enough good things about Alex.
Q. Any of the guys who decided to forego their last year of eligibility, did any of that catch you off guard or is this something that youve been aware of the entire season for the most part?
COACH OBRIEN: Nothing catches me off guard, seriously, nothing catches me off guard. No, these are things that as the year ends and college football, I think guys start deciding what they want to do. So these conversations have been ongoing for a while. Im of the belief that these kids should have these conversations with me. They should be open dialogue and have a good, honest conversation about where they are in the program, what theyve done for us as a program, and then what they want to do next. So those are the types of conversation thats you have with these guys. Im sure going forward other guys. I think these are conversations that come up in college every single year with potential ?fth?year and sixth?year guys and every program in America. Thats just whats happened this year with some of these guys.
Q. Can you talk about Glenn Carsons importance to this team as he gets ready for his last home game of his career?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, hes just been a big part of our program. Hes an emotional leader. Hes done a great job of talking to this team during the year. Hes played hard, hes brought passion to the practice ?eld, passion to the game ?eld. Hes a guy that youre going to miss. Just like you said the same thing about Mauti last year. Glenn Carson just loves the game. Hell have a chance to play pro football, so I dont think his career is over. But hes a guy thats meant a lot to our football program, no question about it.
Q. The emotional factor of the Senior Day, a couple things about that. Did you feel last year against Wisconsin that you guys raised it? Is it unique to you? Do you like this compared to the NFL?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, it is an emotional day, and you have to be really aware of that. I remember last year having not been really a part of anything like that, obviously. I remember shaking their hands when they came out of the tunnel and the looks in their eyes and there are a lot of kids with emotions because they know that this is the last time theyre going to play on that ?eld. It kind of strikes you as youre a little bit older than them. Whoa, these kids are being affected by this. Then last year with the 2012 up there which added to it too, so I understand that. I think what well do is introduce them, go back in the locker room and get refocused on the game and what we have to do to win the game. At the end of the day, like I said a few weeks ago to you guys, if you keep reminding them and keep them focused on what the keys to victory are, then I think thats what they focus on. But, again, that will be a little bit of an emotional time for them.
Q. Do you like recruiting guys who played for their dads in high school and come from football families? Can you talk about Ty Howle and what hes meant to the line and this team?
COACH OBRIEN: I do. I think even in coaching Ive been associated with a lot of guys that their dads were a coach. Whether it was Bill Belichick or Josh McDaniel, a lot of guys whose dads were coaches and lot of times they made the best coaches. They understood it, their families understood it, and I think that a lot of times when you look at players sons of coaches, theyre sometimes your most instinctive players. So when you look at Ty Howle who grew up around the game his whole life, hes got a great mom and dad. His dads awesome. His dad gets in the car after a game on Friday night and drives to Pennsylvania from NorthCarolina for all these games. I mean, thats unbelievable. Hes dedicated to watch his son, he and his wife. So Ty has meant a lot to our football team. Ty and I have a very close relationship. I appreciate that. Hes a guy that personally Ill de?nitely miss.
Q. On a different note, what from what youre allowed to say, from your perspective as well as the staff, how much goes into planning these of?cial visits for these kids? Youll have some of them up here this weekend. How does that process go, because there are obviously a lot of people involved with it.
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, its a big process. It takes a lot of strategy, lot of planning. Billy Kavanaugh is basically in charge of that for us but he has a staff underneath him that works with him. Ive been at other schools and I can tell you our of?cial visit, I think we do a great job. We involve the families. We involve all aspects of Penn State. The one thats we do during the season, the one thats we do at a game are a little bit more dif?cult. But its good for the prospect because they get to experience the Beaver Stadium crowd, so thats good. As a coach you dont get as much time to spend with them because youre focused on the game. Then we have one in December where well have I cant mention it, but that takes a lot of planning, but the meals, the travel schedule and how were getting everybody here. Yeah, there is a lot that goes into it no doubt about it.
Q. Im wondering if Jordan Lucas continues to make big plays, Im wondering if youve noticed his unique post?play celebration with Malcolm and just your thoughts in general. You havent noticed it?
COACH OBRIEN: No, no.
Q. Can I tell you what it is?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah.
Q. From him
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, the drop or something?
Q. Hes taking a sel?e of himself, and then Malcolm
COACH OBRIEN: Im glad you mentioned that to me. Well have a discussion about that this afternoon in the team meeting. Im going to take a sel?e of him.
Q. But its more like a team celebration. Im just wondering, instead of being individual.
COACH OBRIEN: I think our guys do. I think for the most part, all kidding aside. I believe and I think we need to continue to improve on this and be better than this, because in the NFL its the exact opposite, obviously. I think when somebody makes a big play, I do think there is a good team celebration with these guys. I think you saw it with Jesse James long run the other day and then Jordans interception. I want to keep it that way. Thats Penn State. I know Coach Paterno believed in that. No sel?sh things like that, and Im the same way. I dont like so Im hoping hes not taking a picture of himself by himself. Well address that with him when we get back over there. But hes a great kid. Hes played well for us this year, no doubt about it.
Q. You guys have had success blitzing the corners this season. Is there a certain skill set about a guy that makes him a better blitzer than anyone else?
COACH OBRIEN: Oh, yeah. Blitzing is an art. Blitzing is not easy. When you blitz, you cant blitz down the middle of a blocker. You have to have great timing and you have to anticipate when to show it and how long to hold it. There is just a lot that goes into blitzing. The best blitzers Ive been around at New England, Tedy Bruschi was a great blitzer because he would get on the edge of a blocker and fake them one way and get on the edge the other way. Thats what youre trying to do. Adrians gotten better and better at that. A good example from last year, Gerald Hodges, when we got here, we didnt think he was a great blitzer, but he got better and better. He became a good blitzer last year, and I think youre seeing the same thing with Amos.
Q. This is a totally off the wall question. But this being the end of your second year, can you talk about the guys that prepare your ?eld for game day every week? They mentioned, and we talked to them earlier, they mentioned a lot of guys go to the NFL and tell them this is the best ?eld theyve played on. Can you comment on what they do from a week?to?week basis?
COACH OBRIEN: Who did you talk to, Combs?
COACH OBRIEN: Beating his chest. There he is. No, Herb Combs does a great job. Hes a good friend. Herb and I talk all the time about the ?eld condition. This game ?eld is a fantastic ?eld. I mean, its deep rooted. It doesnt tear up. Its got great drainage. Its basically a dry ?eld, which is big. The grass is cut to the right length. I just think they do a phenomenal job. Its the best Ive seen. Its one of the things that Penn State is known for is turf grass management. When you look at the four majors in golf from last year, three of the four had Penn State guys as the golf superintendent for those golf courses, which is big. So Herb does a great job. Were going to try to over the next couple years improve our practice ?eld and thats one. We practice all the time outdoors. Weve got to look at that one a little bit to see what we can do to improve that one. But this game ?eld is awesome.
Q. (No microphone)?
COACH OBRIEN: Thats probably one of the biggest conversation pieces myself and Herb is the safety of the player. A player slips and hurts his groin or tears a knee or something like that, you dont want that to be because of the ?eld. Obviously, out here the ?eld is very safe. A lot of it has to do with Herb and his crew. No question about it.
Q. You talk about you look at the Nebraska defense and really focused on scoring with the big plays. I think against Michigan State when they spread the ?eld and got the linebackers out of there and were able to get the big holes up the middle. How dif?cult was that?
COACH OBRIEN: Have you watched ?lm on these guys or are you going off the TV copy?
Q. I grew up a Big 12 fan.
COACH OBRIEN: A Big 12 fan.
Q. But when you see a team spread the ?eld like that, how dif?cult is it to prepare for that? Then they create the one?on?one match?ups. I just wonder what you and Coach Butler are going over to prepare for that?
COACH OBRIEN: No, its a very dif?cult challenge. They do many things on offense that present a challenge. They can spread the ?eld, like you said, and play an East?West game, which challenges your players to make plays in space. They can tighten you up and get behind those big offensive linemen and run the ball downhill. Again, they have Abdullah who can do either. He can be in the back ?eld. He can be out as a wide receiver, so weve got a big challenge ahead of us. But youre right. When they spread you out and they have a lot of good athletes, good receivers, so its a big challenge for us on Saturday.
Q. You moved Adrian Amos back to corner. Last week he had a team high eight tackles. Can you talk a little bit about what he brings to your team as far as in run defense, defending the ?ats and how his physicality sets the edge on the defense?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, I think hes done a good job over the last especially last week. He missed a couple plays, but overall he played well against Purdue. He did. He made tackles on slip screens. He made tackles on runs into the boundary. He sacked the quarterback like somebody brought up before, and he defended in one?on?one coverage. I thought he defended the pass pretty well overall. Hes playing more aggressive. Corner is a good spot for him. It allows him to play with aggressiveness, and I think hes gotten better and better every week. When we moved him back, I think hes gotten better and better at playing corner.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports