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Training Camp Spotlight - Coach O'Brien Update; Akeel Lynch Interview

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Bill O'Brien Transcript

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien spoke to the media from his office phone inside the Lasch Building on Thursday morning prior to the Nittany Lions heading onto the field for the 13th practice of training camp.

7283014.jpgO'Brien took the time to provide an update of how the team has progressed from the first practice on Aug. 5.  Among the areas the second-year leader addressed were the improvements both Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg have made at the quarterback position.

"I spoke to both guys this morning, and I told them that I couldn't be prouder of where they are at right now and how they've worked," O'Brien said.  "They've both had a lot of good moments.  You know, they've both made their fair share of mistakes, but it is very even right now."

O'Brien went on to say that he has not had to hold back in the way he approaches installing the offensive scheme for the season because of having two young, inexperienced quarterbacks.  He said that the training camp season has been very productive from the quarterbacks because of the time they spend studying and working at the offense away from the field.  Simply put, Ferguson and Hackenberg love football.

"They are bright guys, and they are really fun to coach," O'Brien said.  "We don't hold a lot back."

Both young quarterbacks are expected to play in 2013, O'Brien said on the conference call.  While one player will be the starter, O'Brien said that it is imperative for the second quarterback to be ready to play when the team needs him.
7289793.jpg One luxury both quarterbacks have had during training camp is lining up behind an experienced offensive line.  The Lions return a host of players with game experience, including a trio of seniors in the starting rotation on the offensive line.

"I think our first team offensive line has done a nice job," O'Brien said.  "I really think they have played physical football.  Their assignments are good.  The inside three are playing really well - (Miles) Dieffenbach, (Ty) Howle and (John) Urschel.  Donovan Smith is playing really well.  Garry Gilliam has improved.  And (Adam) Gress is playing well.  I feel pretty good about those guys.  Angelo Mangiro has played well.  Eric Shrive, yesterday was probably his best practice."

At the tight end position, O'Brien said that he has been pleased with the progress of all four tight ends on the field - Kyle Carter, Jesse James, Matt Lehman and Adam Breneman.  He confirmed that Breneman would without question play for the Nittany Lions during his true freshman season.  The Camp Hill, Pa., native has superb hands, and he has done a great job picking up the offense during his first training camp in Blue and White.

On the defensive side of the ball, Coach O'Brien noted the superb camp linebacker Mike Hull has put together.  In addition to being one of the hardest workers on the team, Hull has great instincts and a knack for making plays.  O'Brien called Hull one of the team's best players.

Heading into Thursday's afternoon practice, O'Brien said that the team benefitted greatly from Wednesday's game-like scrimmage in Beaver Stadium.  The coaches assumed their normal gameday positions in the press box and on the sideline and wore headsets.  Game officials called penalties as if the scrimmage was a game.  The scrimmage gave the Lions a first-hand account of what they can expect on Aug. 31 in MetLife Stadium when they take the field for the opener.

Following Thursday afternoon's practice, the Nittany Lions will practice twice on Friday.

VIDEO: Training Camp Spotlight Interview - Akeel Lynch talks with redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch about the preparations for the 2013 season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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