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PSU notebook: O'Brien discusses his future at Penn State -- sort of

November 18, 2012
The Altoona Mirror

O'Brien addresses future at PSU - sort of

UNIVERSITY PARK - A big story line last week was Bill O'Brien's name coming up for potential NFL openings after the season, and the coach was asked a direct yes-or-no question Saturday about whether he will be back at Penn State next year.

O'Brien got a little testy that the question was asked, but he didn't provide a yes or no answer.

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"You guys [in the media] gave legs to a story last week that there's no story there," he said. "There's no story there. I'm focused on one game at a time. I'm focused on this football team, and that's not something that I even think about. I think about - I'm the head football coach at Penn State, and I'm looking forward to getting this team ready for Wisconsin. You gave legs to a story that's not even there. It's not even there."

The reporter who asked then followed up by saying it's a yes-or-no question.

O'Brien again didn't answer yes or no and said, "For me it's Wisconsin and this football team and this senior class. That's where I think the questions should be directed - Indiana, the senior class, getting ready for Wisconsin. ... I'm the head football coach at Penn State, I love coaching here, and I can't wait to get back to work on Monday and get ready for Wisconsin."

McGloin doesn't regret comments

Another big story from last week was quarterback Matt McGloin saying of Penn State, "We're not going to get that call here" when speaking of the controversial play that took at TD away from the Lions at Nebraska. McGloin was asked Saturday if he regretted making those remarks.

"No," he said. "I don't think I regret anything I ever say."

No teammates made similar comments to McGloin's, but secretly they may have appreciated him sticking his neck out and making them.

"I'm sure," McGloin said. "But those guys, we do a great job of sticking behind each other, and we do a great job of fighting for each other and playing together."

McGloin made a joke when asked why it's always him being the most outspoken member of the team.

"Quarterback, we love the spotlight, we like dealing with you guys [in the media] every day," he joked. "No, it's just the way I am. I'm an outspoken guy, I'm a very emotional guy when it comes to the game of football. I'm a very competitive person, I love to win, I hate to lose. I say what I feel, and everybody knows that."

Big fourth downs propel Lions

Two of the biggest plays Saturday came on fourth down, and of course, O'Brien didn't hesitate going for it either time.

Penn State took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when, on fourth-and-3 from the Hoosier 26, McGloin hit Allen Robinson down the left sideline for a TD. An even bigger play came in the third quarter with PSU up 28-22 and with Indiana having rallied to capture a lot of momentum.

The Lions faced fourth-and-9 from the Hoosier 32, and McGloin tossed a big 11-yard completion over the middle to Brandon Moseby-Felder. The duo connected again three plays later for 14 yards down to the 1, setting up a Zach Zwinak TD that helped PSU start to pull away.

"That sprung a touchdown for us," Moseby-Felder said of his fourth-down grab. "My teammates called on me to make a play, I made a play, moved the chains."

Penn State is now 18-of-33 on fourth down this season, and going for it so frequently has become second nature to the offense.

"Coach O'Brien will go for it on fourth down, and Matt expects that," quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher said. "We expect that, hey, there's a good chance we're going to go for it here. And when you convert fourth downs, that's a big part of any game because it really hurts the defense. They're thinking, hey, we've got a stop, we're going to get off the field and then bang, four more plays."

Students show up

Classes at Penn State concluded Friday afternoon, which sent the majority of students back to their hometowns to begin the week-long Thanksgiving break. Still, a large number of students stayed in State College for the weekend to attend the game. Although the student section was rather empty at kickoff, it filled in nicely as the first quarter progressed.

"It was great to see the students stick around," quarterback Matt McGloin said. "I know it is hard for them being Thanksgiving break and all."

The university kept the residence halls open until Sunday morning to encourage students to stay for the game. O'Brien admitted after the game that he did not know what to expect from the crowd, but he said he was very pleased with the atmosphere.

"I can't say enough about our fans," O'Brien said. "We have great fans here, and they support this team. This team really appreciates it."

The announced attendance was 90,358, the smallest home crowd since the 1995 "snow bowl" against Michigan.

Hoosiers air it out but struggle to score

Indiana's Cameron Coffman threw for a whopping 454 yards, completing 33-of-59, but his offense still could only manage 22 points. He threw two TDs, including a screen that went for a 79-yard TD to Stephen Houston, and was picked off twice.

"I couldn't care less if it doesn't result in a win," Coffman said of his career-high total.

He said he threw for more than 500 yards a couple of times in high school but added, "I got a win, so it felt a lot better."

The Hoosiers were one-dimensional as they rushed for only 24 yards on 26 carries. That meant Coffman had to be the entire offense, and he put up gaudy numbers, except for on the scoreboard.

"I thought he left a bunch," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said when asked if Coffman left plays on the field. "One of the key components of him, he has to make some plays, some tight windows and tight throws.

Indiana needed a win Saturday and one next week to become bowl-eligible, but instead the Hoosiers will be shut out of the bowl picture once again. Their defense is the biggest culprit as it has been shredded numerous times this season.

"We are not at a point right now where we can play shutdown defense," Wilson said.

News and notes

PSU's game captains were FB Andre Dupree, G Frank Figueroa, CB Patrick Flanagan and WR Christian Kuntz. ... LB Gerald Hodges suffered a minor leg injury in the second quarter, but he missed only one play, and then three plays after the injury he had a spectacular effort on an interception. Hodges tipped a pass from Coffman and then dove to catch the ball just before it hit the ground. ... PSU was called for a rare sideline interference penalty for a second straight week. O'Brien said it was his fault as he was in the wrong position when an official ran into him. ... S Malcolm Willis (knee) didn't play for PSU. Jake Fagnano replaced him. ... DT Jordan Hill played the entire game and didn't show any ill effects from his knee sprain two weeks ago.

(Compiled by Cory Giger and Timothy Schoen)

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