Bill O'Brien Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 27 | Depth Chart - Aug. 26
Game Notes - Syracuse Game
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien kicked off his game week teleconferences on Tuesday afternoon in the Beaver Stadium media room to preview Saturday's season-opener with the Syracuse Orange in MetLife Stadium (3:30 p.m. ABC/ESPN2).
Before getting into the question and answer portion of the press conference, O'Brien addressed the status of the starting quarterback for Saturday's opener.
"I feel like what I try to do every week, along with our staff, is do what's best for our football team, and so right now you'll find out who the quarterback is on the first play of the game against Syracuse," O'Brien said.
O'Brien added that part of the decision to not reveal the starting quarterback until the first offensive play is the young nature of the two players involved. Both Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg will play in their first Division I college football game on Saturday. Additionally, not naming a starter does not tip Penn State's hand competitively heading into the first game of the season. Simply put, there are multiple factors that went into his decision to wait until the first play to reveal the starter under center.
"And, again, it's more about what's best for the team," O'Brien said. "The team understands the direction we're headed within the building there at Lasch, and they know where we're going. So that's what's important too."
The Nittany Lions head into the season-opener following a productive preseason practice period. O'Brien noted on Tuesday that the squad made good progress on both sides of the ball and on special teams leading up into game week for Syracuse.
"I believe our guys came back, and they understood the expectations of camp," said O'Brien. "They understood the systems on both sides of the ball on special teams. We had a lot of returning players. I believe we've got some strong leaders on this team that showed the young players the way. You know, again, did we have great days every day? No, but I don't think we had any bad days. We might have had a bad play here or there or a bad series here or there on both sides of the ball, but I don't believe we had any bad days. I believe we came out of it healthy, which is very, very important, for the most part, especially with our top players."
For the first time since 2000, the Nittany Lions will open a season at a neutral site. Saturday's contest will be Penn State's 14th game in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, but first in 13 years. The University has nearly 30,000 alums in the New York Metro area, and Coach O'Brien said the team is thrilled with the opportunity to play in a location with a big Penn State following. Penn State has 12 current players on the roster from New Jersey and two from New York City.
Additionally, the players are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to step onto the field of a sparkling 85,000-seat professional venue. Penn State and Syracuse will open MetLife Stadium's regular season, and Super Bowl XLVIII will close its season on Feb. 2.
"It's important to know, look, this is where the Super Bowl is going to be played at the end of the year," said Coach O'Brien. "This is where the New York Jets and the New York Giants, two fantastic pro football franchises, play. There have been some great games here already. Even though it's a brand new stadium, there's been some great games here. So, yeah, I think it's a neat experience for our players, and I think it's great for everybody involved at Penn State."
Press Conference Notes:
- Coach O'Brien opened the press conference with an injury report. Senior offensive tackle Adam Gress (knee) and sophomore Ben Kline (shoulder) are among the notables on the report. Both Gress and Kline have been full participants at practice and will be ready to play on Saturday.
- O'Brien on the importance of stopping the run on defense:
"You go into every single game, no matter who you're playing - really, no matter who you're playing - you've got to be ready to stop the run. If your defense isn't centered on stopping the run, number one, then you're going to be in trouble. Because this is Penn State, this is ‑‑ the history of Penn State says, number one, we're going to play as tough a defense as we can, and we're going to try to stop the run, and that's the way it goes."
- O'Brien on playing complementary football:
"It doesn't matter whether it's a young quarterback or not, I have a strong believe in this, that in order to be a successful team, you have to understand the definition of complementary football. Football is a game of emotion. It's a game of momentum in many ways. One of the things we always talk in our (team meetings) - especially during game week, we started with it yesterday, was complementary football."
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