UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions travel to West Lafayette on Saturday to take on Purdue in their first of two-straight road games.
Head coach Bill O'Brien met with the media on Wednesday to preview the Leaders Division clash with the Boilers. Take a look through some of his key remarks.
The Nittany Lions watched film of the Ohio State game on Monday, corrected their mistakes and moved into Purdue mode. The Lions are not looking back to last week or looking at the final month of the season. The focus is solely on executing a gameplan for the road contest at Purdue. The Boilermakers are next on the list of 12 one-game seasons for the Nittany Lions.
"Hopefully we have corrected the mistakes from that game in practice and will continue to do that over the next three days here, but we have a big challenge for us at Purdue, and we've turned the page. We're working on Purdue and we turned the page on Monday," O'Brien said.
"This team only has four games left and every game is a bowl game for us, every time we go out there," O'Brien said.
The Nittany Lions will take on a Purdue defense that is yielding an average of 408.4 yards per game. The Boilers have allowed 194.5 rushing yards per contest in 2012. Defensively, the tackle tandem of Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston leads the Boilers. Short leads the team in tackles for loss (9.0) and sacks (4.0). Coach O'Brien noted on Tuesday that the Nittany Lion offensive line will need to play consistently against the interior talent of the Purdue defense.
"[Purdue's] two inside tackles are very, very good players with (Kawann) Short and (Bruce) Gaston," O'Brien said. "These guys are active, they're big, strong, physical. They have a good-sized secondary, and linebackers that are active."
Learning On the Job
Coach O'Brien is now eight games into his head-coaching career. He was asked about how the season has progressed and some of the challenges he has faced being a first-year leader of a football team. Take a look through his response:
"The one thing that I've tried to do every single day is work extremely hard and be organized in my work," O'Brien said. "That's what I'll always try to do here and the other thing I've tried to do is be open, honest with our staff, with our players, and to make sure that everybody has an idea every single day of where they stand, what do they -- you can't stay the same, you have to figure out ways to get better. Hopefully I've done that every day. Other than that there has been a lot of challenges, just being a first‑time head coach there is a ton of challenges. We would have to be here all day for me to tell you exactly all that there are, but there are challenges on the field, off the field, everywhere."
Additionally, Coach O'Brien has repeatedly said is how much fun he has coaching this particular group of players. While the job carries its fair share of challenges, Coach O'Brien enjoys being around the team.
"I can't tell you how much I enjoy these players," O'Brien said. "I've had the most fun coaching that I've had compared to any year. I had a ton of fun last year, we went to a Super Bowl, that was great, and this has been just as much if not more fun and rewarding, coaching this team and being around these players."
Redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Carter is day-to-day with a left ankle injury. The tight end ranks second on the team in receptions with 35. Carter will be monitored throughout the week, but he is working incredibly hard to be ready for Saturday's game at Purdue.
"We will have to monitor him at the end of the week and see how he can cut and do certain things, you know, obviously in the passing game to determine whether he can play or not," O'Brien said. "I know he wants to play so he's working hard to get back on the field."
Superstorm Sandy impacted much of Pennsylvania during the first two days this week. The storm brought wind and rain to Happy Valley, but the Nittany Lions held meetings and practiced on a normal schedule this week. Penn State practiced indoors at Holuba Hall on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with soggy conditions outside.
"It was rainy and windy but it wasn't anything that really held us back, it was just more of practicing inside because we felt like we could get the most done inside," said O'Brien. "I don't like going inside but because of the wind and the rain and the field conditions, again, at this point in the season I would rather go inside and get productive work rather than risk having somebody get injured on a slippery field or something like that."
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