Speaking from the media room at Beaver Stadium on Tuesday, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien met with reporters to discuss his team and their upcoming game against Ohio State. This is what O’Brien had to say when it pertained to the Buckeyes.
The first question O’Brien fielded was about Ohio State’s defense and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier:
COACH O’BRIEN: “This is the most athletic defense that we’ve played. They have guys on that side of the ball that are well coached. I think Luke Fickell, Mike Vrabel, those guys do a real good job of getting those guys lined up in different looks, and it’s a very challenging defense. They have a number of guys on that defense that are good players. You asked about Shazier. He’s a very athletic guy, very instinctive guy, a guy that can slip blocks very easily. You’d better know where he is in the passing game, whether he’s blitzing or in coverage, just a really athletic, good instinctive player. Obviously Bradley Roby, this guy is one of the top defensive backs in the country, a guy that has a very good knack for understanding what type of route is being run against him. He’s got a knack for making sure that he makes a play on the ball just from his film study. You can tell he studies film. So he’s a very challenging guy to go against, and then obviously there’s a lot of other guys on that defense that are playing well, too. You don’t get to 7-0 without having a good defense, and they have a very, very good defense.”
Hmmm, I wonder if O’Brien has seen the Buckeyes on film?
Next, O’Brien was asked about Braxton Miller and can Penn State contain him defensively:
COACH O’BRIEN: “Yeah, it’s a very difficult challenge playing a guy like Braxton Miller; in my opinion one of the top five players in the country, a really good football player who has improved immensely since he’s been in the system. Last year was his first year in the system. Now I think he’s got great grasp of this system. He’s throwing the ball well. I thought they played real well offensively against Iowa. And, like you said, if he gets outside the pocket, he’s a dangerous guy. Sometimes those things are going to happen. We’ve got to play hard and play with great effort and do the best we can to keep him in there, and when he gets out, we have to make sure that we understand our rules, our scramble rules when he gets out. But again, that’s the difficulty with a lot of these teams that you face with these quarterbacks that are dual threat guys. It’s just a dangerous thing when they get outside the pocket there. They’re excellent quarterbacks in the pocket and they’re good outside the pocket. We’ll just do the best we can.”
O’Brien was then asked about Miller and his improved passing game:
COACH O’BRIEN: “Well, I just think that he’s obviously a hard working kid who’s throwing the ball very well. I don’t know exactly what he did. I’m not there. I don’t know Braxton Miller, but I do know that he’s throwing the ball very well. He’s accurate. He’s making plays on third down in the passing game. He obviously understands coverage, and he’s just doing a really, really good job of running that offense in all facets of that offense. It’s a very difficult challenge. Again, you don’t win 19 games in a row or you don’t get to 7-0, No. 4 in the country, without being an excellent quarterback, and that’s what he is.”
Later on, O’Brien was asked how much he looks ‘forward to the challenge of playing No. 4 on the road, 90,000, 19-straight wins, all of those things,’ even though Ohio Stadium’s capacity has been over 100,000 since the expansion and renovations that started in 1999. It appears that the Penn State media doesn’t know that. Here’s O’Brien’s answer:
COACH O’BRIEN: “Oh, yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity. I think about that all the time. I love I think you guys know that by now about me, when you’re playing teams like this, you just think about I’m not very good at articulating this, but Penn State versus Ohio State, and you think about what that means in the history of college football and these two teams playing each other and the tradition of both schools and two great coaching staffs with a lot of good players on both sides of the ball. You know, it’s a lot of fun. Game day, that’s the best day of the week for me. We’re just really looking forward to the challenge. We know it’s a huge challenge. I mean, 19 games in a row, No. 4 team in the country, we realize that it’s a huge, huge challenge. But we look forward to it.”
In the last two games, Ohio State has trailed by a touchdown at halftime to both Northwestern and Iowa, only to rally in the second half to come away with a “W.” O’Brien was then asked what does Ohio State do in the second half that’s been able to wear teams down:
COACH O’BRIEN: “That’s something we’ve looked at a lot. They have done a great job in the second half of coming out and making great adjustments, and I think it’s when you’ve got a team like that that’s never lost under your leadership, Coach (Urban) Meyer’s leadership, you’ve got a very confident team. So even if they maybe it’s a close game in the first half, they go in at halftime, and well, “we’ve won 19 in a row. We’ve got to make these adjustments and here’s what we do and we’re confident that we’re going to be able to” they’ve done it before, and I think that’s a testament to their coaching staff and I think that’s a testament to their players, that they make the adjustments, they go out and they play better in the second half. But you’re right, that’s something that’s a big key for them in the last two games, and that’s just something that they’re doing well.”
Later, O’Brien was asked about Carlos Hyde, who may not get the media attention someone like Braxton Miller gets. Here’s what O’Brien had to say:
COACH O’BRIEN: “He gets a lot of attention from us, I can tell you that, when we watch the tape. He’s six feet tall, he’s 240 pounds, he’s a downhill runner. You’d better wrap him up. He had an unbelievable, I think, 19 yard touchdown run against Iowa last week where the guy hit him, he bounced off him, he kept his balance, and then he ran the rest of the way and dove into the end zone. It was just a great individual effort. He’s obviously one of the better backs in the country. Again, we’ve got to make sure that we wrap him up, that we tackle him. It’s a huge challenge for us.”
Further along in the press conference, O’Brien was asked why Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been so successful:
COACH O’BRIEN: “First of all, he’s smart, a smart guy. He’s a mentally tough guy. He’s won two National Championships with different types of teams. In my opinion, he’s obviously able to do it in different conferences. He’s done it in the Southeastern Conference. He’s done it in the (Utah), he’s done it obviously successfully in the Big Ten. There’s a guy that understands what he wants in a football team, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I don’t know him very well. I’ve gotten to know him over the last year and a half, but I think there’s obvious respect there. Of course, we want to go out there and win, and he wants to go out there and win. But there’s a lot of respect for their program and for him as a head football coach.”