Penn State Football: 'We Don't Overreact' O'Brien Says Following UCF Loss
Penn State's 34-31 loss to UCF wasn't the prettiest performance on the defensive side of the ball for either team. Big plays, long touchdown runs, and bad tackles were the norm on Saturday night.
The loss opened up a whole new line of arguments and debates among Penn State fans on everything from THUD tackling to defensive coordinator John Butler's ability to coach the defense.
Realistically, the evidence doesn't back up those arguments. Butler is dealing with a unit that has only just begun to find itself, and the majority of the nation's best college football teams use the THUD tackling technique as well. Simply put, overreaction is part of being a fan, but it isn't part of coaching.
"We don't overreact," head coach Bill O'Brien said on Tuesday. "Just come back to work on Sunday, try to review what they did against us. Central Florida, they did a good job on offense. They had some things on defense that gave us some problems. We look at that, how people attack us, try to improve and learn from that. We don't overreact.
"We have a lot of confidence in our players, in our coaching ability. We know that there's improvement to make every single day. That's why we love coaching. That's why we can't wait to get back to practice on Mondays. We're not changing. All we're going to do is try to improve the things that we do and figure it out from there. That's just the way it goes. That's coaching and that's what we'll try to do."
The upcoming game against Kent State gives the Nittany Lions an opportunity for redemption and one final game to prep for the Big Ten schedule. So what did O'Brien learn from watching film of the UCF game?
"We watched it from every angle," O'Brien said. "We spent a lot of time. We watched it as a staff, both sides of the ball, and special teams. That's usually what happens when you lose. You try to get together and really observe both sides of the ball and special teams. We have a lot of good coaches on our staff. It was a good meeting on Sunday.
"Defensively it comes down to tackling. We've got to tackle better. One thing I want to address right off the bat, I know somebody is going to ask me this question, obviously I respect the question, it has nothing to do with thud. One hundred and twenty teams in the country all basically practice with thud. Very rare that teams go live anymore, especially if you look at pro football. You're allowed 17 live practices a year. That's trickled down to college.
"It has to be being in better football position, being aligned correctly. I thought we were aligned improperly sometimes. So those are things we can correct. We have to do better and will do better. We have a great coaching staff on that side of the ball, really, good tough players. Coverage‑wise we have to stay in coverage, stay on top of our man. Can't let people get behind us."
Kent State has given up 103 points so far this year while scoring 45, so Penn State has a good chance to get back on track this weekend. After giving up over 500 of yards of offense this past weekend, the Nittany Lions might be happier about the points Kent State doesn't score rather than Penn State's offense does.