Bill O'Brien Transcript - Sept. 17 | Game Notes
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will close out a three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon against Kent State (3:30 p.m. on Friday) in the final non-conference game of the season.
Coming off a 34-31 setback to Central Florida on Saturday, the Nittany Lions returned to the practice field on Monday afternoon as a confident, focused football team. Head coach Bill O'Brien said at his weekly teleconference on Tuesday that after a game, win or lose, you have to pick yourself back up and shift focus to the next opponent that is on the horizon.
"What I've learned from these kids is they are resilient," O'Brien said. "They come into the office on Sunday on their own. That's their day off. They're watching film, getting treatment, and are ready to go on Monday."
O'Brien said there is a lot to take away from the loss and a lot to build on as the Nittany Lions move forward with nine more games to play.
"What you can learn from a loss is we lost to a team that's a good team," said O'Brien. "We didn't play our best; they played very well. In order for us to beat that team last week we had to play a lot better. We understand both from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint what we need to do better.
"Those are good things. You can really see where you need to improve. Hopefully that's what we do. Hopefully we learn from it and we move on and we do the best we can to get a win this week."
A big point of emphasis heading into the season was to start fast offensively. The Nittany Lions marched 77 yards on 10 plays before Zach Zwinak plunged into the end zone to open the UCF game with a scoring drive. The Nittany Lions did not score on their next two offensive drives. O'Brien wants to see more from the offense early in games.
"I think what we have to do is make sure we do what I call string plays together," O'Brien said. "We've got to get a positive play on first down. If we end up losing five, having a penalty on first down, we're not going to start the game fast. Let's do things we know we're good at, we know the kids have confidence in, let's get out there and move the ball."
Collectively, the second-year head coach said on Tuesday that he is looking for fewer mistakes on the offense side of the ball, especially in a high-scoring game like last week's. On defense, O'Brien noted that it all begins with being in a position to make tackles.
"Defensively it comes down to tackling," O'Brien said. "We've got to tackle better. One thing I want to address right off the bat, I know somebody is going to ask me this question, obviously I respect the question; it has nothing to do with thud. 120 teams in the country all basically practice with thud.
"It has to be being in better football position, being aligned correctly. I thought we were aligned improperly sometimes. So those are things we can correct. We have to do better and will do better. We have a great coaching staff on that side of the ball, really, good tough players. Coverage‑wise we have to stay in coverage, stay on top of our man. Can't let people get behind us."
Looking ahead to week four, the Nittany Lions have a great deal to build on.
"There's a lot of improvement to make," said O'Brien. "We had a bunch of guys to show up to work yesterday. It is a fun group to coach. They're going to look to improve this week."
Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for the Blue Out inside Beaver Stadium.
Press Conference Notes:
- The Kent State injury breakdown:
Mike Hull - Day-to-Day
O'Brien said that Hull is being monitored each day.
Aside from Hull, O'Brien noted that there were no major injuries to report for week four.
- O'Brien said on Tuesday that he felt like the Nittany Lion offensive line played its best game of the season on Saturday against UCF.
"Our offensive line played their best game. They played physical. I thought we pass protected really well. The sacks, again, I think somebody told me this morning we've given up eight sacks, whatever. Most of those sacks aren't on the offensive line. It's either holding the ball too long, we don't have a blitz break-off. I feel like our guys played their best game. They need to continue from there. They're a great bunch of guys, tough. Fun group of guys to be around. Mac does a great job with them. They'll continue to improve."
- O'Brien on the quarterback position and Christian Hackenberg through three weeks.
"In this offense, the quarterback truly is the field general. He runs the show. If you can eliminate those mistakes, you're going to really help your team out a lot. He understands that. He's a great kid and fun to coach. "
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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Kent State Week
Bill O'Brien Transcript - Sept. 17 | Game Notes
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