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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Wisconsin Week

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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 26


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien previewed Saturday's season finale at Wisconsin during his final weekly teleconference of the 2013 season on Tuesday afternoon.

With Penn State students on Thanksgiving holiday all week, the Nittany Lions have a unique game week schedule in the days leading up to the trip to Madison.

9498898.jpegPenn State conducted a walkthrough in shorts and shirts on Monday afternoon to kick off on-field preparation for the No. 14 Badgers.  O'Brien said the Monday walkthrough enabled the players to rest bumps and bruises after a physical game on Saturday.

Penn State will practice normally on Tuesday and Wednesday before a morning practice on Thursday.  The Lions will then enjoy a Thanksgiving feast in Pollock dining commons put on by Jim Hopey and the excellent training table staff.  With a schedule solely focused on football, the team has more time to receiving treatment in the training room and rest.  Additionally, the team loaded up in Blue Buses on Monday night for an evening at the movies where it saw "Thor".

"I think Thanksgiving week, not having classes, being able to sleep in a little bit, come over, get some treatments in the training room and then come back after practice and get another treatment," O'Brien said.  "I think that will help (guys get some rest).  And there's only one game left, so you should - our guys will be ready to go out there and lay it on the line, I know that."

The Badgers enter the weekend on a six-game winning streak.  Led by the nation's only pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Melvin Gordon (1,375) and James White (1,281), Wisconsin has tallied more than 500 offensive yards in six games this season.

"This is a big challenge," O'Brien said.  "They run the football very well.  They're very well‑coached.  They're physical, they're big.  Gary Anderson has done a good job coming in there and putting his style of play and putting his mark on that program right away.  Big challenge.  These are two good running backs."

Wisconsin has been equally as good on defense during the 2013 season, limiting its opponents to just three total touchdowns in six games at Camp Randall Stadium this fall.  The Badgers play a 3-4 defense, something O'Brien said on Tuesday requires a unique approach offensively in the gameplan.

"They play a 3-4 look, which is tough," O'Brien said.  "They have two good outside backers that set the edge really well, and then Borland, another guy on the inside.  There are actually three guys that play inside linebacker with Borland being the guy that plays in there all the time.  Borland is a really good player.  He's about six-feet tall, a 240-pound kid.  He's stout, he's tough, he's smart.  He's what you're looking for in a linebacker.  A lot like our guy, Glenn Carson, just a tough, tough dude."

O'Brien said that while the Nittany Lions have had their ups and downs in 2013, there have been a lot of positives to build on heading into the final week.

"I think the fact that we've been able to play a freshman quarterback in every game and he's stayed healthy, and I believe he's gotten better and better, I think that is a real positive," O'Brien said.  "I believe that for the most part we've run the ball pretty well on offense.  I think that's a positive."

The story has been the same on defense, and Penn State heads into Wisconsin after playing its best defensive football of the season in the last two-and-a-half games.  The Nittany Lion defense has allowed a total of 30 points in its last 10 quarters and one overtime.

"I believe our defense has improved every single week," O'Brien said.  "I think the last three weeks our defense has played well and a lot of younger players or guys that have years left here at Penn State have played a lot of football for us on defense."

Kick is slated for 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN inside Camp Randall Stadium.


Press Conference Notes:
- Injury Update - Coach O'Brien said Von Walker (concussion), Bill Belton (shoulder) and Zach Zwinak (shoulder) are all on track to play in the Wisconsin game.  Adrian Amos has a foot sprain, but is also expected to be ready for Saturday's game.

- Coach O'Brien on C.J. Olaniyan:
"C.J.'s made a lot of improvement.  He made a lot of improvement in the weight room.  He really worked hard in the off-season in the weight room.  He got in better condition.  He's doing better in school.  It all kind of goes together.  He's "grown up," and he's played some good football for us.  He had a strip sack on Saturday night.  He caused a fumble against Minnesota.  He's a long guy.  He's got long arms and he's an instinctive player and a tough kid.  He'll continue to get better."

- O'Brien talking about the season Zach Zwinak has put together (874 yards and 12 touchdowns):
"Zach's had a good year.  He's a mentally tough kid... Tough kid, tough runner, mentally tough kid, really enjoy coaching him.  I think he's -- he and I have had a lot of talks about ball security and we just try not to get all over him about it every single second of the day.  We just say, look, it's important for you to hold the ball the proper way and all these things.  And remind him of those things, and he's taken it to heart, and knock on wood, he's done a good job in the last three games and he needs to do a good job on Saturday."



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Monday Notebook: Zwinak Finishing Strong in November

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Zach Zwinak loves playing power football, and with the temperatures colder and weather conditions unpredictable, the month of November is made for downhill running back.

9495034.jpegThe junior has been superb for the Nittany Lions during the past three weeks, rushing for a combined 448 yards.  For the season, Zwinak has rushed for 874 yards heading into this week's season finale at Wisconsin.  Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, Zwinak has scored 12 rushing touchdowns in 2013.

During the past two seasons, Zwinak has been dominant in November.  In 2012, the Frederick, Md., native rushed for 589 yards in the final month of the season.  Adding in this season's total thus far (473 yds), Zwinak has rushed for 1,062 yards in eight November games during the past two seasons.

Penn State and Wisconsin are slated for a 3:30 p.m. (ET) kick on ESPN in Camp Randall Stadium.

- Robinson in Nation's Top Five; Nittany Lions in the Stat Rankings
Junior Allen Robinson has put together one of the finest seasons from a Penn State receiver in program history.  Ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in receiving yards at 1,310, Robinson recorded a school record seven 100-yard receiving game of the season on Saturday against Nebraska.  The Michigan native ranks No. 5 in receiving yards per game at 119.1.  He is No. 8 in receptions per game at 8.1.  Robinson now has 89 receptions in 2013.  He is leading the Big Ten in receptions per game, receiving yardage per game and receiving yards.  Freshman Christian Hackenberg is second in the Big Ten in passing at 237.8 yards per game.  Sophomore Jordan Lucas is ranked No. 12 in the NCAA in passes defended with 15.

- Hackenberg Named Big Ten Co-Freshman of Week
For the fourth time this season, Christian Hackenberg earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week recognition.  Hackenberg threw two touchdown passes and scored a rushing touchdown in Penn State's 23-20 overtime setback to Nebraska on Saturday.  For the season, Hackenberg has eight 200-yard passing games.  He is 210-for-362 for 2,616 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season.  His 210 completions rank fourth at Penn State in a season.

- Wisconsin Results

With BCS at-large hopes on the line, Wisconsin (9-2) welcomes the Nittany Lions to Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.  The Badgers enter the final week of the regular season on a six-game winning streak.  Wisconsin tallied a 20-7 victory over Minnesota on the road last week.  Aside from a 31-24 road loss to No. 3 Ohio State, Wisconsin is 6-1 in conference play.  Wisconsin is among the nation's leaders in rushing offense at 297.8 yards per game.  Melvin Gordon and (1,375) and James White (1,281) are two of the nation's top 12 rushers.

Additionally, the Badgers are ranked sixth in the nation in total defense (278.5 ypg), seventh in rushing defense (99.1 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (13.4 ppg).  In six games this season, Wisconsin has held the opposing offense out of the end zone.  Redshirt sophomore Joel Stave has thrown for 2,075 yards (170-270) with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.  Senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis has 61 receptions for 916 yards and seven touchdowns.  Wisconsin ranks No. 4 in the nation in time of possession at 34:11 per game.



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VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews vs. Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lion players address the media following Saturday's 23-20 overtime setback to Nebraska.




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VIDEO: Bill O'Brien Postgame vs. Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien talks to the media following Saturday's 23-20 overtime setback to Nebraska in Beaver Stadium.




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GAME BLOG: Penn State vs. Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com from Penn State's senior day clash against Nebraska inside Beaver Stadium.

Check back here throughout gameday for the all-new interactive blog coverage for 2013.



 

PHOTO BLOG: Penn State vs. Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's Photo Blog from Penn State's senior day clash against Nebraska.  Stay tuned for updated images from behind the scenes and during the game.


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Nebraska Gameday Preview - Lions Host Huskers on Senior Day

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Gameday Central | Game Notes | Nebraska Scouting Report | Press Conference Roundup

VIDEO: Player Q&As | VIDEO: Practice Interviews | Senior Day Notes


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (6-4, 3-3) will play their final four quarters of football inside Beaver Stadium for 2013 when they welcome Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) for a 3:30 p.m. (TV-BTN) kick on Senior Day.

Seventeen Nittany Lion seniors will be honored prior to kickoff on Saturday.  Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 3:10 p.m. for the Senior Day ceremony that will honor a special 2013 class.

9478944.jpegOn the field, Penn State and Nebraska are among the 12 Division I FBS programs that have posted 725 wins or more in program history.  The Cornhuskers, who have won the last three meetings, own an 8-7 on-field edge against the Nittany Lions in the all-time series.

Last week, Allen Robinson's eight catches for 98 yards gave the junior wideout a Penn State season record of 81 receptions.  The Biletnikoff Award semifinalist's 98-yard performance and a season-high 289 rushing yards fueled the Lions to a 45-21 win over Purdue.

Nebraska enters the game having won two of its last three games.  The Huskers had a two-game winning streak snapped in Lincoln last week when they fell to No. 13 Michigan State by a score of 41-28.  Led by the Big Ten's top rusher, Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten in rushing offense.

In addition to the Senior Day ceremony, there are several events planned around Saturday's final game in Beaver Stadium for 2013.  Penn State Athletics and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank have teamed up for their second annual food drive, which continues through Nov. 24. Fans are encouraged to "Stuff a Blue Bus" by dropping off canned goods at the following drop-off locations: Bryce Jordan Center, Jeffrey Field, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau. The goal for "Stuff a Blue Bus" is to collect 10,000 lbs. of food.

Former defensive end Dave Robinson will be honored at Saturday's game for his remarkable career and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. He is the sixth member of the Penn State Football program to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Robinson was an All-American in 1962 and also has been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. He earned All-Pro honors with the Green Bay Packers.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for Penn State's Senior Day matchup against Nebraska.


Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. It's hard to imagine walking in the shoes of the 17 seniors who will be honored prior to Saturday's game.  The group of hard-working student-athletes stuck with Penn State during difficult times.  Resilient is the best way to describe a group of student-athletes who will be remembered for their dedication to the football program.

9478949.jpegKyle Baublitz, Kevin Blanchard, Alex Butterworth, Glenn Carson, Bryan Davie, Brandon Felder, Garry Gilliam, Adam Gress, Ty Howle, DaQuan Jones, Alex Kenney, Matt Lehman, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, Eric Shrive, John Urschel, Malcolm Willis and Pat Zerbe stayed at Penn State because they felt like the people around them were too special to walk away from.  For that, fans are encouraged to be in the stadium to recognize the commitment of the special senior class.

2. While it is a special day for the seniors, Penn State's underclassmen have made it clear that they intend to leave everything on the field for the seniors during the final two weeks of the regular season.  The 17 seniors are well respected in the locker room by their peers and coaching staff.  Coach O'Brien said earlier this week that the team would do everything in its power to play with great passion in order to send the seniors out in the proper manner.

3. According to Coach O'Brien, the team that turns the ball over the least will likely be the winner on Saturday.  Ball security on offense is a point of emphasis every week, but it is paramount in a game featuring two teams capable of putting points on the board.  Penn State can ill afford to give the Nebraska offense a short field or easy points because of turnovers.  The Nittany Lions have forced 10 turnovers, but lost 13 this season.  Nebraska has forced just five turnovers, but lost 17 turnovers and ranks No. 12 in the Big Ten in turnover margin.


What to Watch For - Nebraska
1. Junior running back Ameer Abdullah has emerged as one of the nation's top backs in 2013.  Abdullah, who leads the Big Ten in rushing at 133.6 ypg, has nine 100-yard rushing games this season, including 225 against Illinois.  The Doak Walker Award semifinalist also has 22 receptions for 191 yards and two receiving touchdowns.  The dynamic Abdullah lines up in several spots across the offense.  In conference games, the Alabama native is averaging 145.2 yards per game.

2. The Cornhuskers field one of the top pass-rushing units in the nation.  Nebraska ranks fourth in the NCAA with 32 sacks.  Sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory leads the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks, including eight in Big Ten play.  Gregory has 15.0 tackles for loss this season.  In all, Nebraska has 12 players with at least three tackles for a loss this season.  Keep an eye on the battle in the trenches when the Nittany Lions have the ball.

3. With senior Taylor Martinez sidelined with a foot injury, redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. has taken the bulk of the snaps at quarterback during Big Ten play.  Armstrong is 5-1 as a starter and has led Nebraska to a touchdown on the opening drive in four of his six starts.  Armstrong has thrown for 802 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.  Senior Ron Kellogg III has also played at quarterback.  Kellogg III has completed 67 percent of his passes and thrown for four touchdowns this season.  Additionally, Nebraska's receiving corps is among the best in the Big Ten.  Senior Quincy Enunwa has eight touchdown catches this season.  Junior Kenny Bell, who is third on Nebraska's career receiving yards list, has 39 catches and four touchdowns in 2013.

PreviewGraphic_Nebraska.jpg
The Final Word:
It will be a battle between two traditional powers in the final home game of the 2013 season.  After Saturday, Penn State will not play a regular season game in Beaver Stadium until Sept. 6, 2014.  With that in mind, fans are encouraged to be in the stadium early to cheer on the seniors before the final four quarters of football in Happy Valley for 2013.  Turnovers and the battle in the trenches will likely decide the outcome of Saturday's game.  Penn State has won 20 of its last 23 Senior Day games on the field. 




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Fans Encouraged to Be in Stadium for Senior Day Ceremony

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Each one of the Nittany Lion football seniors who will be honored prior to Saturday's Nebraska game (3:30 p.m.) had the opportunity to walk away from Penn State at no cost.

But they didn't.

9478631.jpegKyle Baublitz, Kevin Blanchard, Alex Butterworth, Glenn Carson, Bryan Davie, Brandon Felder, Garry Gilliam, Adam Gress, Ty Howle, DaQuan Jones, Alex Kenney, Matt Lehman, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, Eric Shrive, John Urschel, Malcolm Willis and Pat Zerbe stayed at Penn State because they felt like the people around them were too special to walk away from.

For that, the 2013 senior class will forever be remembered for their commitment to Penn State.  And for that, fans are encouraged to be in the stadium to recognize the commitment of the special senior class.


"We can't wait to come into Beaver Stadium and hopefully it will be a great crowd," head coach Bill O'Brien said.  "I would imagine that the Penn State fans will turn out in force to show their respect for this senior class that stuck with this university and stuck with this football program.  I'm looking forward to the game on Saturday."

In addition to its success on the field, the 2013 senior class is a standout group in the classroom.  By the end of the spring semester in 2014, the 17 seniors are projected to earn a combined 22 degrees.  Additionally, the group is projected to have graduated from eight different Penn State colleges.  Of the 17 players being recognized, 10 of them have a cumulative GPA higher than 3.0.  Eight members of the senior group entered the 2013 with a Penn State degree already in hand.

"I think it's a special thing when you get introduced in front of the home crowd. It's a special stadium; I think these kids deserve a great crowd."

All 17 seniors are unique to one another, but they share the common bond of sticking together in the most difficult of times.  When the NCAA sanctions were announced in July of 2012, this group of players had a choice to make.  Outsiders thought it was a no-brainer and the members of the roster would walk out the door in favor of a fresh start at a program without sanctions.

But that's not in the DNA of anyone who will take part in the senior recognition ceremony.  The 2013 seniors viewed the situation as an opportunity to be a part of something special.  They stuck together and nothing tore this group apart.

"Resilient is a perfect word to describe us," linebacker Glenn Carson said.  "We have been through so much together.  We chose to be with each other over any school in the nation.  Without a doubt, we will always stick together."

Fans are encouraged to be in their seats at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff on Saturday afternoon to be a part of a Senior Day ceremony that will honor a special group of student-athletes.  The ceremony begins at 3:10 p.m.





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VIDEO: Nebraska Week Practice Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com caught up with junior cornerback Adrian Amos and senior offensive tackle Adam Gress following Wednesday practice as the Nittany Lions prepare for Saturday's Senior Day matchup against Nebraska.




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2013 Opponent Preview - Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Each week, GoPSUsports.com will preview the upcoming opponent on the Penn State schedule.  Here is a week 11 glance at the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Bo Pelini is in his sixth year at the helm of the Cornhuskers.  Pelini is 56-23 at Nebraska. 

9474559.jpegThe Huskers enter the matchup with a 7-3 record, 4-2 in the Big Ten, but were eliminated from the Legends Division race by Michigan State last weekend. 

The Spartans got into the end zone four times on the ground as they knocked off the Huskers, 41-28.  The Huskers held Michigan State to 361 total yards. 

Running back Ameer Abdullah gained 123 yards on 22 carries to post his ninth 100-yard game this season.  Abdullah also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass.  Imani Cross added a 51-yard touchdown run.  Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed 9-of-21 passes for 143 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.  Fellow quarterback Ron Kellogg III also received playing time, connecting on 8-of-11 throws for 67 yards and a touchdown.  Kenny Bell led the receivers with 81 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.  Sam Burtch added five catches for 86 yards and a score. 

Five Huskers tied for the game-high with eight tackles, including cornerback Ciante Evans, who added two tackles for loss and a sack.  Linebacker David Santos also had eight stops, two for loss.  Nebraska totaled nine tackles for loss on the day. 

The Nebraska offense ranks fourth in the Big Ten, averaging 440.6 yards per game, including 240.3 on the ground.  The rushing attack ranks third in the conference and 16th in the nation.  The Huskers average 35.1 points per game, also ranking fourth in the Big Ten. 

Senior signal-caller Taylor Martinez has missed six of the past seven games with an injury.  Armstrong Jr. has started six games, but Kellogg has seen playing time in all seven games.  Armstrong Jr. has completed 53 percent of his passes for 802 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.  He also has 175 rushing yards and two touchdowns.  Kellogg III has connected on 67 percent of his throws for 529 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Abdullah has rushed for 100 yards in nine of Nebraska's 10 games.  The only exception was a 98-yard day against UCLA.  Abdullah has 1,336 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.  He leads the conference, averaging 133.6 yards per game.  The junior has also had a big role in the passing game, with 22 receptions for 191 yards and two scores.  He also leads the conference in all-purpose yards with 156.6 per game.  Imani Cross, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound back, has contributed 407 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Quincy Enunwa and Kenny Bell give the Huskers two consistent weapons on the outside.  The 6-foot-2 senior, Enunwa, leads the team with 41 catches, 536 yards and eight touchdowns.  Bell, a 6-foot-1 junior, has contributed 466 yards and four touchdowns on 39 catches. Sam Burtch has three receiving touchdowns. 

The Huskers allows 24.6 points per game, ranking sixth in the Big Ten.  They also rank sixth in total defense, giving up 373.5 yards per contest.  Their rushing defense is eighth in the conference, allowing 160.8 yards, while their pass defense ranks fourth, allowing 212.7 yards.  They lead the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss.  Twelve members of the defense have at least three tackles for loss. 

Sophomore end Randy Gregory anchors the defensive line.  Gregory is among the leaders in the Big Ten with 15 tackles for loss and leads the conference with 8.5 sacks.  On the other side of the line, end Avery Moss has eight TFL and 4.5 sacks.

Santos is tied for the team lead with 68 tackles, 34 solo.  He also has five TFL, two sacks and an interception.  Junior Zaire Anderson has 42 tackles, six for loss and three sacks. 

Cornerback Ciante Evans leads the secondary.  He has 39 stops, including 11 for loss, three sacks and three interceptions.  Evans returned a pick 22 yards for a touchdown against Southern Miss.  Senior Stanley Jean-Baptiste leads the squad and is tied for the conference lead with four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.  Safety Corey Cooper is tied with Santos for the team lead in tackles. 

Nebraska leads the all-time series 8-7 on the field and defeated Penn State, 32-23, last year in Lincoln. 


Contributions on the 2013 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.