O’Brien, Nittany Lions Prepping for Temple
Sept. 18, 2012
By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Fresh off a 34-7 victory over Navy, the Nittany Lions returned to the practice field on Monday afternoon to begin on-field preparations for the final non-conference contest of 2012 against in-state rival Temple.
Preparation for each game on the schedule is a meticulous process for head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff. This week, GoPSUsports.com will share some insight from Coach O’Brien on how the gameplan comes into place inside the film room and on the practice field leading up to Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. kick against the Owls.
Game week typically begins around 6 a.m. for Coach O’Brien on Sunday morning. He and the coaching staff grade the tape of Saturday’s game, the Navy game, in this case.
"We come in on Sunday and grade the tape to figure out what we did well and what we didn’t do so well," O’Brien said. "We do that because we have to make sure we improve on the things we didn’t do so well heading into the next game."
Starting on Monday, the staff intensifies the gameplan install process on both sides of the ball. O’Brien and the position coaches go over the gameplan with the team during Monday afternoon meetings prior to practice.
"We install the base offense at practice on Monday, first and second down offense," O’Brien said. "We do the same on defense, and then on special teams we go through each of the big four units. We put things in pretty slowly. Tuesday is a big day."
The Lions practice in full pads on Tuesdays. O’Brien said the team spends a lot of time on the running game and run defense on Tuesday. Wednesdays are more focused on situational football, such as third down and red zone. Thursday is another situational day that focuses on red zone, two-minute and goal line work. Every day, the team covers special teams.
"Every week is a big week, and so far, our coaches have done a great job working together this year," O’Brien said.
The full coaching staff meets several days a week at 7:30 a.m. to review film, practice and talk about the preparations for the week’s opponent.
On the practice field, the gameplan process relies significantly on the “dirty show”, or scout team. The dirty show provides the offense and defense with the look of the week’s opponent.
"They watch a lot of film, whether it be of Temple’s defense or offense, to give us the proper look," O’Brien said. "You will never be able to simulate the speed of the opponent that you will see on Saturday, but if you can get the right picture, that is probably the most important thing we can see from the dirty show to get ready."
This week, the Lions take on a Temple squad led by second-year head coach Steve Addazio. O’Brien indicated on Tuesday that Temple is a talented team that will challenge the Nittany Lions on both sides of the ball. In all, nine of Temple’s 11 starters on defense are juniors or seniors.
"It is a tough group of players with good tacklers," O’Brien said. "It is a very difficult scheme to go against. They mix in pressures and disguises that are tough. It is going to be a challenge for us. They are a good football team."
On offense, the Owls are led by 6-3, 230-pound quarterback Chris Coyer and senior running back Matt Brown. Temple’s offense is a unit with multiple looks, similar to Addazio’s scheme during his time as a coordinator at Florida.
"There are some similarities," O’Brien said. "There is no question though that Coach Addazio has added his own twist to it. But there are some similarities. They play at a very fast tempo; they take advantage of their players' skillsets. It's going to be a real big challenge for our defense on Saturday."
O’Brien noted that the defensive game plan begins with slowing down Coyer and Brown.
"At the end of the day, you have to stop those two guys," O’Brien said. "This is an athletic team that plays at a fast tempo. You have to be ready for them to no huddle or huddle. You have to be ready for different looks. At the end of the day, it is another big challenge for our defense, and we have to have a really good week of practice."
Penn State’s defense has forced eight turnovers in the past two games. Offensively, the Nittany Lions have not turned the ball over since the Ohio game. The Nittany Lions will again emphasize both areas on the practice field this week.
"If you don't turn the ball over and the other team turns the ball over, you have a better chance this win," O’Brien said. "Although we proved that theory wrong in the Virginia game, hopefully that theory holds true most the time. We have to continue to take care of the ball. We stress it all the time. Again, it comes down to the individual player, and so far they've done a decent job of that."
Saturday’s contest is big for both teams. Competing against Penn State is something Temple always looks forward to, but the Nittany Lions will be motivated to build on last week’s victory.
"We only have 12 games this year, so every game for us is a very, very vital football game," O’Brien said.
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