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Penn State Football: Complete Bill O'Brien Transcript Following Victory Against Temple

by on September 22, 2012 10:06 PM

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What pleased you with the offense today and what are some of your offensive concerns after today?

O'Brien: I felt like we had a productive day but we left a lot of points off the board. We've got to clean that up. When we have a chance to score inside the 10-yard line, we've got to do a better job down there. It starts with coaching. I've got to coach it up better. We left a lot of points off the board that we think should have been on the board. You've got to give a lot of credit to Temple. They did a great job with a diverse blitz team. They kept us off balance at times. We've got to improve in our overall offensive operation.

Where is the offensive line now, four games into the season?

O'Brien: Just like a lot of units on our team, I think it has improved. We've got some guys that are rotating in there. We had Ty Howle back this week, which means a lot. Any time you can add depth, that's really good and can give Miles Dieffenbach a rest. We are rotating at tackle with Farrell, Gress and Shrive and that's good. I think these guys are playing well together. They're tough, they're smart, they're a very fun group to coach and a fantastic group to be around.

How surprised were you by the amount of penalties you got today?

O'Brien: I was disappointed in that on our end. We have got to do a better job on that. We had lineman penalties, holding calls and offensive pass interference. We have to look at the tape and coach that up better. The one thing we pride ourselves on after the first three games was doing a good job of not being penalized. Today, I felt like we took a step back on that. I need to do a better job of coaching those guys.

In the first three games, what did the team do well to not have penalties that maybe were a problem today?

O'Brien: I would have to look at the tape, but I would say maybe we did a better job of keeping our hands inside and not holding. We did a better job of aligning correctly in the first three games, where today we had an alignment penalty. A lot of things go into it. We need to coach it better; maybe it was a lack of concentration. I will do my best to get these guys focused on Monday and get those things corrected.

Did you get an explanation on the Kyle Carter call from the first half?

O'Brien: I was told it was offensive pass interference on him. They felt like he was blocking while the ball was in the air. Good call.

Was there a particular area that you and Matt [McGloin] focused on in the offseason and has he reached the level of improvement that you wanted?

O'Brien: We did things at spring practice and gave him things to work on on his own in the summer. He really worked hard on his own. You have to give this guy a lot of credit to this point in the season. We have a long season to go and a very tough Big Ten schedule. So far this season, he is a very much improved quarterback. He's making good decisions with the ball. He's really good in the running game. He's a fun guy to coach because he's a smart guy. He gets it after you tell him once. He's competitive and he can keep his poise, sometimes better than I can, and that's a good decision on his part. It was a good ball game by Matt.

Where was Curtis Dukes today?

O'Brien: He had a thigh deal coming out of the Navy game, so we decided to not play him. We were going to play him a little but as the game went on we decided Zordich was running pretty well. We decided to give Dukes another week to heal.

Can you talk about the spark Mike Mauti has given you in the last few weeks and what kind of level he is playing at right now?

O'Brien: The thing about Mike, and the rest of the guys on defense, is they play with great intensity and great effort. Even when they make a mistake they hustle. He plays the game at a very fast pace and they all do. Those guys are playing really well right now. Can they improve? Of course, we can all improve. We will work to improve this week but I like the effort with which they play. They really do spark our team because of the effort they put in.

How did you feel about C.J. Olaniyan played today?

O'Brien: I think C.J. made some good plays but I have to watch the tape still. C.J. is a guy who works extremely hard in practice. He is another really good kid that is coached very well by Larry Johnson. He had that tipped ball in the second to last drive which I thought was pretty neat. From what I could see on the sideline, he played a tough, solid ball game today.

What was your opinion of Zordich's performance today before his injury and are you surprised by how quickly he has adapted to the tailback role?

O'Brien: Mike is a football player. Mike is another really bright guy. When he was learning the fullback position, he was trying to learn the whole package. That's what we tell our guys at every position. At receiver, you need to learn Z, X and F. You cannot just know your own position. He has been a guy who has really worked at it. He ran hard today and did some good things. He did get hit on that one play but I think he will be fine. It was fun to watch him play today.

I thought that this game had the potential to be an emotional, down week, just because they're inevitable. Did you think that this might one, and how did you think your guys did?

O'Brien: If this was any other year, then I would tell you, "yes." There is some of that in football coming off of a win. But this year, because we only have 12 opportunities to play and because we have a very special senior class...Now look, I'm not saying that we're going to go 10-2, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that these guys know that they only have 8 games left. They practice hard, they work hard and they really care about each other. It's a very, very fun group to coach and to be around. It's a lot like, in many ways, the feelings that I've had around the other good teams that I've been around. Whether it's Georgia Tech or Maryland or obviously the New England Patriots, it's just a good group of guys and they really love to practice. It's not always pretty. But they get along, there's good camaraderie, there's a good sense of humor and they practice hard. So hopefully we can continue to do that and keep trying to get better.

How was today? Do you think that they came through?

O'Brien: I think that we left a lot of points off of the board and that we could have scored some more points there. But I thought overall that the effort was good. The guys were intense, they were into the game, the meetings were good last night, the meetings were good this morning at the hotel and the guys seemed to be genuinely into it. And that's what I've seen so far every week.

Now that you have a few wins and the kids are enjoying it, how much do these wins that they've accomplished mean going into the Big Ten season?

O'Brien: Winning is huge. Winning takes care of a lot of things. Winning makes everybody feel good, especially when you beat good, tough teams that are well coached. Last week against Navy, that's a good, tough football team. And this week, Temple, I'm just telling you that I think Temple is good football team with a bunch of good players and great coaching staff. So I give a lot of credit to them. They gave us a lot of problems today in the blitzing game. And again, I just feel great for our players that they have the feeling of winning. And now we have to get back to work against a really good Illinois team and get ready for them.

Can you give an update on Bill Belton and even when he returns, is Michael Zordich a guy that will still get some carries, since they seem to really complement each other?

O'Brien: Billy (Belton) is coming along. That was a pretty significant ankle sprain that he had in the Ohio game. I feel terrible for the kid because he loves to play football and he hasn't been able to get out there full tilt. But hopefully he'll get back in there this week. Again, it will really be more of a running back by committee because these guys have run the football well. So we'll have a rotation there and hopefully one of them will get hot. And that's what we'll do. But Billy will get back in rotation as soon as he gets healthy.

There was a sequence when you got the two-minute offense going and the two big completions to Kyle (Carter). It was only a 7-3 game at the point. What were your thoughts on that sequence in the game?

O'Brien: That was a big part of the game. Up in the press box, the coaches did a great job of alerting me to use our timeout. Temple elected to run the football three straight times there, so were able to keep them backed up. We played on the short field and they punted, and we were able to get a decent punt return there. And then we only had to go 45 yards or so to get the touchdown. Matt (McGloin) did a great job on that last touchdown run, because that was a misaligned play. We were not aligned correctly and he did an excellent job of getting it into the end zone. And Kyle had to big catches on that drive. So that was a huge drive going into half time. Any time you score like that in a tight ball game right before half time that usually bodes well for you.

Do you think you found a punt returner in Jesse (Della Valle)?

O'Brien: He is a solid guy and he's a football player. He's a lot like all these guys that I'm talking about. He feels the punt and he feels that he's a solid punt returner. He's got decent speed, good vision and he's just another great kid. And I thought that Evan Lewis went back and made a great catch off of a punt today, too, which may have rolled to the one-yard line. So Evan did a good job on that and just good roll players for us.

A third of the way into the season now, is there a real identity or style?

O'Brien: The identity of this football team, to me, is just a bunch of guys that, to this point, are going to play very hard. They're going to play with great effort. I believe that it is a close locker room. I believe that we have a very strong senior class. And I just think that that has a lot to do with the identity of the team. People always ask me about identity on offense and identity on defense. It's a game plan offense and a game plan defense. So some weeks we're going throw it more than we run it, some weeks we're going to run it more than we throw it. We're going to do whatever it takes to win. Same thing on defense; we might play a little more coverage one week and one week we might blitz more. So, the identity of the team is a bunch of really resilient, tough kids that love to play football and love to go to school at Penn State.

Compared to last week, do you like the fact that you saw your team tested, to a certain extent? Especially in the first half?

O'Brien: Definitely. I like the fact that defensively we held them there when we had to. I know that they scored there at the end, but for the most part we held them in the red area. I loved the drive at the end of the game that ended with the Sam Ficken field goal. I wish we had scored (a touchdown) there. We had a touchdown pass there that I'm not sure if it was tipped or not, but that was an 11 or 12 play drive that was really what I called four-minute offense. They basically sealed the game. A lot of times, that's the mark of a pretty solid football team, so hopefully we can build on that going forward.

What can you say about Alan Robinson's development so far this season?

O'Brien: He's just a really good, young player that's works extremely guy. He's a smart guy, comes from a great family and he's a good student. He's a big, smooth receiver. He can run and he can catch. He loves to play and he always has a smile on his face. He loves to practice and works extremely hard. He has a huge future, he really does. He has the chance to be an excellent football player.

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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