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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Michigan Week

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Bill O'Brien Transcript - Oct. 8 | Game Notes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is set to host Michigan in its Big Ten home opener on Saturday evening under the lights in Beaver Stadium (5 p.m. on ESPN).

9310423.jpegHead coach Bill O'Brien updated the media on the team's preparation for the 16th-ranked Wolverines on Tuesday afternoon at his weekly teleconference.  O'Brien said the team is looking forward to the opportunity in front of it on Saturday evening.

"We're 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," O'Brien said.  "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."

As a player, it is hard to ask for much more than the prospect of playing a national power under the lights in a primetime game before a sold out crowd in your home stadium.  More than 900 students began camping outside Gate A at Beaver Stadium in Nittanyville on Monday night to secure prime seats for Saturday's contest.

"[It's] Penn State‑Michigan, ESPN, 5:00, 108,000," O'Brien said.  "We've 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 Ten football.  This is a Big Ten game.  It's a big game, and our kids are very excited about it."

The Nittany Lions welcome a Michigan team led by junior quarterback Devin Gardner.  The athletic signal-caller is a dual-threat player who can be very effective with his arm and his legs.  Gardner has rushed for at least one rushing touchdown in nine-straight regular season games.

"He's a dangerous guy because he can run and throw, and there's a number of guys like that in this conference," O'Brien said.  "I think the thing you've got to try to do is really try to keep him in the pocket.  When he gets out of the pocket, he's very dangerous."

O'Brien said that when you watch Michigan's defense on film it is a typical Wolverine unit with hard-nosed, physical football players.  Michigan is yet to give up a rushing touchdown in 2013.

"I think Coach Hoke is a fantastic coach and he's done a great job," O'Brien said.  "I think he's in his third or fourth year there of putting together the type of team he wants, and on defense they're very stout up front, very stout.  The linebacker corps, they play a lot of guys there.  Secondary is very disciplined."

The stage is set for a superb atmosphere pitting two traditional Big Ten powers inside a sold out Beaver Stadium.  Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. (ESPN).

"It's just going to be a great night to run through that tunnel and be able to play in front of fans like that," O'Brien said.  "We can't say enough about our fans.  We owe so much to them, and we're just working hard to play well in front of them."

Press Conference Notes:
- Tuesday Injury Update from Coach O'Brien:

Ryan Keiser is questionable for Saturday's game. O'Brien said the team will know more at the end of the day on Wednesday.  Brandon Felder (ankle) is ready for this week, as is Allen Robinson, who came down hard in the end zone during the second half at Indiana on Saturday.

- Coach O'Brien on the identity of the 2013 team:

"Well, I think our identity is we're a tough team.  We're going to play hard, and we've got a lot of good players, and we're very focused on doing that against Michigan."

- Coach O'Brien on improving the turnover margin during the course of a season:

"Yeah, we definitely work on that, we really do.  We do a lot of drills on that and coach it up, and whether it's 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 we've just got to keep working on it, emphasize it on film.  When we see a good play, somebody that's caught an interception or recovered a fumble in practice, hey, great job, and emphasize it and hopefully we'll start getting that turned around a little bit."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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