Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Indiana Week
Oct. 1, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a bye week in the books, head coach Bill O'Brien and the Nittany Lions are set to open Big Ten play on Saturday at Indiana.
O'Brien updated the media on Tuesday afternoon on the team's progress during the week off and previewed the conference opener against the Hoosiers.
Penn State practiced four times during the bye week, including three days in full pads. O'Brien said that the Nittany Lions had a very productive week off in preparation for the Big Ten portion of the schedule.
"Your team's identity is pretty much formed after the first four weeks so you can look at things like heavy tendencies and different areas of the field or down and distances and whatever you may have tendency-wise and try to correct those," O'Brien said. "You can look at individual players and figure out what we have to do during the bye week to try to get these guys better."
The Lions will open conference play on the road for the fourth-straight season when meet the Hoosiers in Memorial Stadium. Indiana's offense ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring (44.5 ppg) and No. 1 in passing offense (348.5 ypg). O'Brien knows that slowing down the fast-paced Hoosier attack will be a challenge on Saturday.
"Number one is to be able to handle their tempo. They do a fantastic job," O'Brien said. "Kevin Wilson has done a really good job from when he was at Oklahoma to now being at Indiana trying to run 90 to 100 plays a game. So you have to get lined up, communicate properly and handle the tempo, and then they have some really good skill players. They have two good running backs, a good quarterback that's playing well, a couple of good receivers, good tight ends. So they get you into situations where you're going to have to make plays in space, so handling the tempo and being able to tackle in space and not give up a ton of explosive plays is a big part of the game plan."
Competing in practice every day against the Penn State offense, the Nittany Lion defense is no stranger to a fast-paced offense. However, O'Brien noted that it is important to be mindful of the tempo of the game is going before playing at a quick pace on offense to ensure the Penn State defense isn't in a bad spot.
"I think that's really important," O'Brien said. "You have to gauge that during the game, how is the game going. Again, you don't want to put your defense in bad situations where they've just been out there for a while and you go up-tempo, it's a 30-second drive, you're three and out, and your defense is right back out there. That's not being a very good head coach or offensive coordinator."
O'Brien said the thing that stands out about the Hoosiers on film is their ability to find their skill players in space. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who ranks second in the Big Ten in passing (286.5 ypg), does a superb job putting his skill players in good spots to make plays.
"They throw the ball to the slot receiver, the wide receiver, the backs, so they have some what I call really good "space" players, guys that can make plays with the ball in space and that's a tough offense to defend," O'Brien said. "You're going to have to make sure that you swing to the ball, that you tackle properly, that you get lined up and communicate and you're able to decipher the formation that they come out in and make sure you understand what they're doing, what they're lined up in and what can they do out of that formation."
Kickoff is slated for noon (BTN) on Saturday inside Memorial Stadium.
Press Conference Notes:
- Coach O'Brien on the season Deion Barnes has played:
"I think he's had a relatively good year for us. I think people have paid attention to him. You would if you were playing Penn State and this guy was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, you're not going to let him disrupt the game so you're going to make sure you chip him or put a tight end over him, and Deion has played well, he's a guy that stays after practice every day, just a tough guy, Philly guy, to me he's playing fine."
- Penn State holds developmental scrimmages with younger players on the roster every Monday at the end of practice. O'Brien talked on Tuesday about the importance role the scrimmages play in the development of the young talent on the roster.
"We think it's really important -- we didn't do this last year so this was one of our brainstorming sessions in the off-season, we felt like this was something that could help our football team for a lot of reasons to develop depth, see the improvement of the younger players, make up for the lack of bowl practices, where you can get a bunch of practices there when you're getting ready for a bowl, if you were to qualify for a bowl. So we decided to do this. On Mondays, after practice, we have run probably a total of 300 plays already this year and it's not just The Dirty Show, Audrey, we have guys in that scrimmage that are back-up guys on Saturdays that play for us on Saturdays that are getting meaningful reps in that, too. It's very competitive, the coaches compete, the guys have fun with it; we crank the music and you can see guys getting better and better with it, so we think it's been productive for us."