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Countdown to Blue-White / 33 Days: Can O'Brien Build on Success of 2012?

by on March 18, 2013 6:23 AM

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By all-time Penn State standards 2012 would have been a season to forget, and in more ways than one the entire year of 2012 is one the entire Penn State community would like to erase. Even so, the work that Bill O'Brien and his staff did in 2012 was nothing short of remarkable.

From the transformation of Matt McGloin to the dynamic offense that shattered Penn State records, O'Brien proved that he was more than up for the task.

But can he do it again?

Conventional wisdom would suggest so. Most coaches settle into their programs by the second year. In fact, since 2000, four different coaches have won the national title in their second year with their schools. Penn State won't have that on the table for a while thanks to NCAA sanctions, but that doesn't mean the Nittany Lions aren't setting high goals.

A look at Penn State's 2013 schedule doesn't take a whole lot of squinting to get to at least eight wins. Even with a new quarterback under center, Penn State has four winnable games to start off the year before facing Michigan in Happy Valley. By the time Penn State is ready to face Purdue, Nebraska, and Wisconsin to finish off the year the Nittany Lions could have easily found their stride.

For O'Brien the second year marks what some of his fellow coaches have dubbed the first real year after taking over a football program.

“The second year is so much more productive because the first year you are just trying to figure everybody out." Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told Sports Illustrated. "It’s a new system, the terminology, the practice routine, all the things that are critical to success are an issue.”

O'Brien has already alluded to some of the advantages the second time around. From understanding his players to just having his house unpacked, year number two gives O'Brien a chance to get his hands dirty.

"We have a much better understanding of the team's skill set," O'Brien said. "Last year we didn't know that Jesse James could play in the slot a little bit. I could give you million different examples of that. That's the joy of coaching, putting it all together."

"I'm extremely excited to get back out on the field," O'Brien said. "And coach. But I also understand my role as the leader of the program. Getting settled is all how we view those sorts of things but we're coaches."

"Did things come up that threw a little bit of a wrench in things at times? Sure, no question about it. But as coaches you have to learn to adapt and analyze a situation and react. We feel really comfortable with these guys and I really really can't emphasize enough how much we love coaching this group of guys we're around."

So can O'Brien build on 2012? There is no reason to think he can't.

-This is a first in a 33-day long series of reports about the Penn State football program leading up to the Blue White game. We've put together a team of football writers that will examine a variety of different topics and will try to answer your questions and concerns about Bill O'Brien's team.-

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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