Penn State coach Bill O'Brien held his weekly press conference at Beaver Stadium Tuesday.
He addressed the Nittany Lions' upcoming home game with Michigan, the magnitude of the showdown, key injuries and much more.
He did not address PSU's ugly 44-24 loss to Indiana last Saturday, repeatedly saying he and his team were not looking back.
FightOnState.com's Mark Brennan and Greg Pickel had no problem looking forward and backward while breaking down O'Brien's PC. They shot the wrap right near Paternoville at Beaver Stadium.
Check it out above.
The transcript below is provided by ASAP Sports.
COACH OBRIEN: Injury update here: Ryan Keiser is still questionable for the game. Were hoping to have him, but well know more probably by the end of the day tomorrow. We feel good about it, but I would say hes still questionable. Right now Brandon Felder is full go for the game. Allen Robinson will be ready for the game. And as far as that goes, thats … and obviously Mike Hull will be ready for the game, and thats pretty much an update.
Q. Staying with personnel, Ben Kline, Adam Breneman and Alex Kenney didnt play at Indiana. Was it because of injury or something else?
COACH OBRIEN: Ben Kline was because of injury. It happened on Thursday. His shoulder, he popped his shoulder out. And so he didnt play because of that. Adam Breneman, were going to play him against Michigan. And Alex Kenney just didnt play in the game.
Q. As a coach when you come off kind of a disappointing showing like you did against Indiana, how do you strike the balance between kind of correcting things and emphasizing teaching points, and then just kind of moving on and strike it kind of from the memory bank? Is that a challenge for the coaching staff?
COACH OBRIEN: Weve moved on from Indiana. Were focused on Michigan. Our guys are very, very excited about the opportunity they have Saturday night against a great Michigan team, 5-0 team coming in here, 108,000 fans. Our guys are very focused on Michigan, learning the game plan, studying Michigan, and our guys are going to show up and play hard on Saturday night. Were very focused on Michigan.
Q. After your first two games, you said about your offensive line that overall you needed to play more consistent up front. Have you seen improvement there that you wanted there the last couple weeks? Where can it do better?
COACH OBRIEN: No, our offensive line has improved every week, and our offensive line will be ready to go on Saturday.
Q. Where can you gauge your linebackers at right now, particularly with that Michigan offense and the way they run the ball?
COACH OBRIEN: What do you mean gauge them? What does that mean?
Q. Well, health, overall, that sort of thing?
COACH OBRIEN: Theyll be there ready to go. Well have Hull, Wartman, Carson, Obeng, Kline will be ready to go, Wooten will be on special teams. Linebackers will be ready to play on Saturday night.
Q. Could you just talk briefly about Jesse Jamess role, how it might be a little different from the second half of last season? Maybe how Matt Lehmans injury has affected what Jesse is being asked to do, if its any different than last year?
COACH OBRIEN: No, no, Jesse has been asked to do very similar things, and Jesse is very focused on the Michigan game plan, and Jesse, barring injury, will play a lot on Saturday night.
Q. Devin Gardner is one of those double?threat quarterbacks, good passer, good runner. What specific problems will he be presenting for your defense on Saturday night?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, he presents a lot of problems, youre right. Hes a dangerous guy because he can run and throw, and theres a number of guys like that in this conference. I think the thing youve got to try to do is really try to keep him in the pocket. When he gets out of the pocket, hes very dangerous. Very dangerous. The other thing about Devin Gardner from being around him at the Big 10 media day, hes a great kid, just a really nice kid who represents Michigan really well, and its going to be a big challenge playing against him.
Q. Are you concerned at all and can you approach at all as a coach the idea that the teams confidence might be shaken a little bit by last week?
COACH OBRIEN: The teams confidence isnt shaken.
Q. Could you talk about the Michigan defense a little bit, tell me what you see out of those guys? Everyone talks about the offense, but the defense has played pretty well this year.
COACH OBRIEN: Sure, the Michigan defense, when you look at their defense, just from my knowledge of Michigan, its a typical Michigan team. I think Coach Hoke is a fantastic coach and hes done a great job. I think hes in his third or fourth year there of putting together the type of team he wants, and on defense theyre very stout up front, very stout. The linebacker corps, they play a lot of guys there. Secondary is very disciplined. Greg Madison is the defensive coordinator, obviously have gone up against him when he was with the Baltimore Ravens. Hes an excellent football coach. Its going to be a great challenge. These guys are a very good football team, but were going to do our very best to put together a good game plan and coach our guys up to go out there and execute the game plan.
Q. After Saturdays game you said that by any stretch of the imagination its a normal Penn State team. Do you think some of the lack of scholarships is starting to kind of catch up? Are you noticing it more this year in some regards than maybe last year?
COACH OBRIEN: Im not talking about scholarships, sanctions, anything. Im talking about Michigan. Our team is focused on Michigan. We feel like, again, we got off to a good start on Monday. Im not here to talk about scholarships, sanctions, last weeks game. Im here to talk about Michigan and Michigan only, and our team.
Q. You mentioned a couple of your freshmen linebackers a little bit more. Can you kind of talk about where they are, Gary Wooten, Brandon Bell, and if theyre going to be breaking more into the defensive rotation or how theyre developing halfway through their freshman year?
COACH OBRIEN: Theyve both been incorporated into special teams and theyre both doing a decent job on that. Brandon Bell last weekend and also Gary Wooten throughout the season on the kickoff team has done a nice job of being physical. Breaking into the lineup on defense right now, you know, theyre backups. I think if they were called into duty that they would be ready to go. But right now theyre backups.
Q. You guys are kind of near the bottom of the Big Ten in turnover margin. Is that something you could work on in the course of a season?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, we definitely work on that, we really do. We do a lot of drills on that and coach it up, and whether its ball drills, interception drills, strip drills, fumble recovery drills, blocked punt drills, we drill it, and we need to do a better job in that area, no doubt about it. So weve just got to keep working on it, emphasize it on ?lm. When we see a good play, somebody thats caught an interception or recovered a fumble in practice, hey, great job, and emphasize it and hopefully well start getting that turned around a little bit.
Q. Youve talked a lot about the team having a lot of resiliency. I was wondering, is that a characteristic thats kind of come natural, or do you have to help them cultivate that as the season goes on?
COACH OBRIEN: I dont know. Im not a psychologist or a psychiatrist or anything. I just think that we have a fantastic group of kids that are practicing hard right now and very focused on the Michigan game.
Q. Can you talk about sort of how Allen Robinson has played this year, how important he is to the team and maybe how he can help with Christian Hackenbergs progression?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, hes done a lot of really good things that started in the off?season. He really worked extremely hard on his own game, getting stronger, getting faster, getting quicker. You know, he worked hard in the summertime. He worked hard with Christian when Christian arrived here, and he worked hard with Tyler Ferguson, also. Hes a guy that you have to give him a lot of credit for the year hes having. Hes done a really, really good job to date, this year.
Q. Its been a few weeks now with Brent Wilkerson. How is he doing in terms of his rehab and do you expect to have him back at all this year?
COACH OBRIEN: No. Hes doing fine, but he wont be back this year.
Q. Most stadiums across the country dont see 70, 80, 90 thousand in a given week, but can you talk about the importance of having a full sold?out stadium for homecoming this weekend?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, in my opinion, and obviously Im very biased, but this is the best college football atmosphere in the country. Weve got a bunch of kids out here in Nittanyville right now, and we cant thank the fans enough. Were working extremely hard. Were very focused on Michigan, and were going to work extremely hard to come out and play as good a football game as we can play on Saturday night, mainly for this football team and for those fans that show up, 108,000 fans being as loud as theyre going to be. Its just going to be a great night to run through that tunnel and be able to play in front of fans like that. We cant say enough about our fans. We owe so much to them, and were just working hard to play well in front of them.
Q. You were pretty critical of yourself right after the game. Did you go in thinking that you were going to … you ended up throwing it 55 times. Is that what you were intending to do, or could you address … you talked about scheming up some more for the running game.
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, again, I really do, you know how much respect I have for you. Ive moved on to Michigan. Indiana is over. Its in the rear view mirror. That game is over. Were focused on Michigan. Were putting together a game plan. Itll be ?nalized probably tomorrow night, and we feel like its a good game plan, but again, weve got to go out and execute it on Saturday night. Were very focused and excited about the game.
Q. Touching on personnel, with a couple losses is there more challenges within?? for some of the playing time or are you satis?ed across the board, or how do you look at that going forward?
COACH OBRIEN: Youll see more guys playing this week. Youll see more guys playing this week.
Q. Youve faced a couple of really good quarterbacks??
COACH OBRIEN: As long as they practice well. As long as they practice well, Monday through Thursday, youll see more guys playing well this week.
Q. Youve faced a couple good quarterbacks this year. Can you break down Devin Gardner, give us a little insight into how he is as a passer, not just a runner?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, I think hes a guy that they have coached very well. Hes a guy that played some receiver, hes played other positions. Hes very much of a team guy, so obviously they move him to quarterback, plays quarterback last year. I think hes a much improved passer. I think hes a really, really good player. I think hes a competitive guy. And like I said earlier, I think weve got a big challenge ahead of us playing against a guy like that whos a high character guy thats a really good player, is the type of guy that poses a big threat any time you play against a quarterback like that.
Q. Alan obviously had a good year last year, but hes still continuing to thwart defenses even though they know about him now, so he must have improved. Where has he improved the most?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, he got stronger, hes faster, he improved his speed, which is really hard to do. I think in our scheme weve moved him around so hes become smarter in our scheme. Last year he played mostly on the outside but now he plays everywhere. He plays No.3, No.2, he plays No.1 weak, No.1 strong, put him in the back?eld a little bit. He just has a lot better knowledge of our scheme, and all the credit goes to him. Hes done a heck of a job.
Q. Hes from Michigan. Is going home to his home state something that drives him?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, well, the game is here, but being from Michigan, hes very excited about the game. Im sure hes excited about the game, yep.
Q. You mentioned after each of the losses theres a 12? to 16?hour mourning period. I was wondering how that helps improve the team, to have that mourning period, and for the week ahead, and what happens in that mourning period that helps the team?
COACH OBRIEN: I think Im kind of joking when I say that. I mean, its a loss. Its over. We move on, and we get ready for the next opponent. Thats what we do. Its one loss. Its over. Were moving on to Michigan.
Q. Brady Hoke said yesterday that Jake Ryan, their middle linebacker, might be back this week. How does that change things in terms of game planning?
COACH OBRIEN: Well, hes a heck of a player, All?Big?10 guy, and he does a lot of different things for them when you watch their tape from last year. Hes a linebacker, hes a nickel rusher, hes a very energetic player. Hes a very, very good player. I know Coach Hoke said yesterday he doesnt know whether hes going to play or not. Were going to play whoever shows up, obviously, but hes a very good player, and well have to know where he is if he does play. Thats for sure.
Q. You guys have asked Adrian Amos to do a lot of different things for you guys this year. Where would you say he is as far as his progression and your con?dence level having him out there?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, hes a good player. Weve asked him, like you said, hes done a lot of different things, hes played corner, hes played safety obviously, hes been on special teams. Weve got a lot of guys like that. Weve got a lot of guys doing different things. Trevor Williams is on all the special teams and Jordan Lucas, and in the secondary Malcolm Willis, so were asking guys to do a lot of different things. Thats the type of players they are. Theyre good players, and I have a ton of con?dence in Adrian Amos. Hes a heck of a football player, an even better kid, and hes gotten better every week, and hes doing ?ne.
Q. Allen Robinson has had a great year up to this point, but hes accounting for about 45 percent of the passing offenses yards. At some point is that kind of a concern almost that it doesnt seem like theres a No.2 guy whos maybe stepped up to ease that load a little bit?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, I dont know. It depends on how you guys de?ne No.2 guys. Geno had six catches. Do you want the No.2 guy to have?? if Allen has 12, should the No.2 guy have 11? I dont know. The No.2 guy had six, Felder has had some catches in games. I think weve spread the ball around pretty well. This past game probably not as much as we had. But again, we always try to spread the ball around. Theres very few plays where we say, this ball is going to Allen no matter what. Its the read of the play. You know, offensively were always looking to improve, but I think for the most part weve been a productive offense, and we just need to continue to try to move the ball. We ran 93 plays in last weeks game, so something was right, so we try to build on that and put together a good game plan for Michigan.
Q. This is easily the most high tone game of the year. Do you guys during weeks like this feel as coaches that you need to hammer the idea that this is just another game more to the team or not more than a regular week?
COACH OBRIEN: No, we tell them, look, this is an exciting opportunity. I mean, Penn State? Michigan, ESPN, 5:00, 108,000. Weve got Nittanyville going crazy over here. I think it would be crazy to think this is just another game. I think this is a great opportunity for our team. Our kids are really excited. I love this time of year personally because the weather changes, it gets a little colder. It just reminds you of football, Big 10 football. This is a Big 10 game. Its a big game, and our kids are very excited about it. So we know its a big rivalry and a big game.
Q. Do coaches worry at the beginning of games that emotions can be too high with an atmosphere like this or not really?
COACH OBRIEN: No, to me the old emotion thing, once theres contact and you block the other guy and the other guys tackles you or whatever, the emotion, now its just execution and who plays the best football game.
Q. What have you guys done in practice to prepare for Devin Gardner, and have you used anyone to simulate his dual threat ability?
COACH OBRIEN: No. I really appreciate that question, but you really think Im going to tell you what we do in practice to prepare for Devin Gardner? Devin Gardner is a really good player, and were excited about the opportunity to play Michigan and were just very focused on playing Michigan.
Q. Run game struggles, I know you want to get the running game going this week, struggled last week. From week to week, going into this with probably a better defense at least statistically, how do you look to get that running game started?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, weve got a game plan for Michigan. Were still basically in the middle of putting it together. Were almost done with it. We have con?dence in it. We have confidence in our players. Every game is different. Every game is a different entity. We go out and we execute the game plan, and well have a chance to run the football. But youre right, theyre a very stout rush defense. Like I said before, thats what Brady has done there. Hes recruited the type of team that he wants, and thats a Michigan team, and its going to be tough. But we have good players, and we feel good about our game plan, and well show up Saturday night.
Q. Michigan kind of used their left tackle to augment their run game as a tight end in a jumbo formation Taylor Lewan. Have you seen that, and what kind of challenge does that present to you guys?
COACH OBRIEN: Yeah, Taylor Lewan is an excellent player, so any time they go tackle over or use him as a tight end or whatever, thats a big challenge because thats a lot more physicality on the end of the line of scrimmage. So those are tough things. I think that youve just got to make sure that you adjust it properly and that your kids communicate, and then youve got to be in position to make plays, youve got to ?t it right, youve got to ?t your gaps right, and again, youve got to win the personal battle, youve got to win the one?on?one battle. Thats what our kids are focusing on doing this week.
Q. You mentioned earlier the number of starters that play special teams. Is that something that as a head coach you would put a priority on in general, or is that something that maybe youve been forced into with the hand you have?
COACH OBRIEN: No, we just put our?? whoever is our best ?t for special teams, we put them on special teams, regardless of their role. We have a lot of kids that play special teams. No, that would be my philosophy. Were going to put our best special teams players on special teams.
Q. Correct me if Im wrong, but I feel like about a month ago you said after four games together the team has an identity. Youre kind of able to pinpoint that. Im just wondering at this point of the season what you would say your teams identity is right now.
COACH OBRIEN: Well, I think our identity is were a tough team. Were going to play hard, and weve got a lot of good players, and were very focused on doing that against Michigan.