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Penn State Football: O'Brien Calls Twitter Attacks on Sam Ficken 'Ridiculous'

by on September 11, 2012 12:52 PM

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien had some harsh words for those who sent verbal attacks on kicker Sam Ficken via Twitter following Saturday's 17-16 loss at Virginia.

O'Brien called the actions "ridiculous" and "cowardly." Ficken missed four fields, including a game-winner from 42 yards out, and had an extra point blocked. Almost immediately afterward, his Twitter account exploded with verbal attacks — even after Ficken tweeted out appreciation for those who still supported him following Saturday's showing.

Among the tweets sent to Ficken:

"Support? Did you leave the team yet loser? Your pathetic!"

"If ur dumb enough to go back to State College I hope the first person that sees u trips u and breaks that awful leg you have."

"You are brutal. Find a new sport because football isnt working."

"I just, I don't know what type of people do that," O'Brien said. "I don't know any people that do that personally."

Regarding a possible personnel change for Saturday's game against Navy, O'Brien said the kicking position is open every week.

"It's not just been Sam Ficken is our kicker no matter what," O'Brien said. "He's won the job every week."

More highlights from O'Brien's weekly Tuesday news conference:

  • O'Brien said he may need to simplify play calls in the red zone to better position the offense for success.
  • Redshirt freshman left tackle Donovan Smith is considered day-to-day with a lower leg injury.
  • There are specific packages designated for Paul Jones at quarterback, O'Brien said. Jones is also transitioning into the "F" tight end position, which entails more of a receiving role. "He's certainly a guy we've got to play, and that's on me to get him in the game," O'Brien said.
  • Ficken needs to work on technique, but he's working, having kicked about 300 balls during Monday's practice, O'Brien said (likely exaggerating some, he added). The coach also said the whole kicking operation, from the protection, to the snap, to the hold, needs to improve as well.
  • Running backs Derek Day (shoulder) and Bill Belton (ankle) are considered day-to-day. Curtis Dukes would start if both backs would have to miss Saturday's game against Navy. O'Brien reiterated his desire to redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch.
  • Matt McGloin (elbow) did not throw during Monday's practice. O'Brien thinks his starting quarterback will be fine for Saturday.
  • Tight end Garry Gilliam is primarily used in personnel packages that haven't been used as frequently yet, O'Brien said. Nothing physical is holding him back.

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