O'Brien talks with media as 2013 season approaches

Head Coach Bill O'Brien Teleconference Transcript
August 22, 2013

Q: What level of anticipation for yourself getting your season under way? And what kind of sense do you get from the players and staff in terms of their readiness to actually go play another team?

Coach O'Brien: We're very excited. We're very excited for the start of the season. We know were playing a fantastic opponent in Syracuse and we've been watching a lot of film on them. They have a lot of really good players returning and a lot of really good players that didn't play for them last year. So we have to meet the challenge and it starts today. We start game planning for Syracuse today. We have to have a focus on our preparation and put our best foot forward on game day.

Q: Have you decided anymore about naming a quarterback?

Coach O'Brien: I think the biggest thing again is that we have two really good young quarterbacks. My biggest focus and concern is with the football team. The only thing I care about is if the football team understands the direction that we are headed and I believe the football team understands where we're at right now. We have the two really good young quarterback and those guys will both have to be ready to play for us this year.

Q: Have you and the staff been able to identify any young players or true freshman that might play this year to with your depth?

Coach O'Brien: Sure we have. I would say on offense obviously Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman. I believe down the road, probably not in the Syracuse game, but I do think that Andrew Nelson could help us this year on the offensive line. (Nelson) is a talented young guy. Richey Anderson will play for us. Then defensively, I think it is a little bit different deal. I think right now I don't see a lot of true freshman helping us right away on that side of the ball. I do see one run-on freshman that I think can help us on special teams in Von Walker. Maybe not necessary in the Syracuse game, but he could help this year. (Walker) has come in here and done a nice job for a young guy and he has added some depth in the special teams area.

Q: Do you still think by the end of the week you can made a decision on the quarterback situation?

Coach O'Brien: I don't know. It might not come until next week. You know, it might come on the first play of the game on offense against Syracuse. It is my job to run the football team and I am always going to do what is best for the football team. As long as I am the head football coach here, I will always do what is best for our program. That has nothing to do with indecisiveness or doing this or doing that. All I care about is that the guys in our team meeting room know where we are headed. And our players have a very clear direction of where we are headed on both sides of the ball.

Q: Can you talk about the tour you gave the players at Beaver Stadium and All-Sports Museum? What were the main things you wanted the guys to specifically to know about why they play?

Coach O'Brien: We feel it is very important for our players to understand the history of this program. People ask us what we play for all of the time and I don't think the people who ask that know what the history of Penn State football means to the student and athletes at Penn State. We took them over to the stadium a couple of nights ago to show them the museum and the timeline and the history. We talked about all of the players and coaches that have represented Penn State. Obviously, Coach Paterno and everything that he did, on and off the football field, and all of the players that he coached. We talked about Rip Engle and Coach Bob Higgins. We talked about all the former great players that played here. It was great to see that our guys were really into it. We got a lot of guys that are history buffs and I believe they enjoyed it. That is what we wanted to do. We wanted to make sure they know that there is a lot that we are playing for at Penn State. I think our guys really understand that.

Q: Has been Ben Kline been able to get into practice the last few days?

Coach O'Brien: Yeah, Ben Kline has been practicing. Ben's a tough kid, he's a Penn State guy. Ben's a 4.0 student. We talk about a lot John Urschel, and rightly so, but Ben's also a 4.0 student. He's a fantastic kid and a tough, good leader on our team. He's a big special teams player and he'll play some linebacker for us. He's been out there.

Q: Do you like playing games in NFL stadiums and what does that do for the program?

Coach O'Brien: I've talked about what playing at MetLife Stadium means for our program and about playing at other NFL venues down the road. I think it's really good for our program, it's good for our players. When we walk into that New York area on Saturday, August 31, we have 30,000 or 40,000 alums in that area. Hopefully they're all coming to the game. That's important to get out to those areas where we have so many great Penn State alums.

Q: With the situation at Syracuse, they haven't named a starting quarterback either, how difficult is it to prepare for them without knowing that?

Coach O'Brien: I think in this day and age of college football, you have to be ready for everything. Whether it's a pro-style attack or a shotgun-run attack, whatever it is, we do it all offensively here at Penn State. We give our defense exposure to a lot of different schemes. Hopefully our guys are ready to go against Syracuse. We know it's going to be really tough playing them. They're an excellent opponent with a really good coaching staff and a bunch of good players. We're looking forward to the challenge.

Q: How are Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas doing? How do you think they will handle starting for the first time?

Coach O'Brien: Jordan and Trevor are doing well. They've had both productive training camps. They've gotten their hands on a lot of balls. They've tackled well, they've communicated well and they've played well in zone coverage and man coverage. They're both bigger, athletic guys. I'm sure when they go out there for the first time it'll be a little nerve-racking, but it is for any first time starter. That's a tough position, but these guys are good players. We feel like our depth in that area is a lot better than it was last year. Those two guys will start the game for us and they've had good training camps.

Q: How has Bill Belton been progressing through training camp? What are your expectations for him this season?

Coach O'Brien: Bill has had a good training camp. He did very well academically this summer and he's come back and had a really productive training camp. He's going to play a lot of football for us. He's a good kid and he looks to be a little bit quicker. He's catching the ball well and he's a guy that's going to play for us, no doubt about it.  

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Last Updated August 22, 2013