Bill O’Brien press conference
A capsule look at Bill O’Brien’s weekly news conference
Opponent: No. 18 Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Kickoff: Saturday 5 p.m., Beaver Stadium
About the Wolverines: They won a rivalry game against Notre Dame (41-30), then avoided disaster the next two weeks with close wins over Akron (28-24) and UConn (24-21); QB Devin Gardner is dangerous through air (60 percent, 8 TDs) and on the ground (318 yards, 5.7 average) but also has thrown eight interceptions; third-year coach Brady Hoke has been very good for Wolverines, going 24-7
Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions won, 41-31, at home in 2010 and have won three straight in the series after losing nine in a row from 1997-2007.
Line: Michigan is a 1 1/2-point favorite; over/under is 49
No answers: Penn State lost to Indiana for the first time ever Saturday, in a game in which it threw 55 passes against a poor run defense. But O’Brien was feisty and in no mood Tuesday to answer questions about what went wrong, deflecting all questions about the loss by saying the team is moving on to the Michigan game. That poses an intriguing question: Do fans and the media deserve to know details about why or what the team or coach did in a certain game? O’Brien shouldered the blame after the game Saturday with general answers about how he has to coach better, but he offered no specifics. Tuesday, after having seen the game film, he would have been better equipped to point out good and bad elements, but he chose to deflect those questions.
Few details: O’Brien’s news conference lasted only about 20 minutes, or 10 minutes shorter than usual. His answers were brief, and while he didn’t get angry, he clearly was annoyed by some of the questions. “The team’s confidence isn’t shaken,” he said sternly with no further comment after getting asked a question about that. He was asked about the team’s resiliency and said, “I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist or anything. I just think that we have a fantastic group of kids that are practicing hard right now and very focused on the Michigan game.”
Questionable question: Sometimes coaches have to be wondering what in the world a media member is thinking by asking a certain question. More than halfway through his news conference, when it was clear he didn’t want to give specifics about anything, O’Brien was asked what his team has done in practice to prepare for Michigan QB Devin Gardner. “Do you really think I’m going to tell you what we do in practice to prepare for Devin Gardner?” the coach responded. O’Brien actually was pretty polite on that one given the oddness of the question.
Not just another game: This is Penn State vs. Michigan, and that’s always big. “This is an exciting opportunity,” O’Brien said. “I mean, Penn State-Michigan, ESPN, 5 o’clock, 108,000. We’ve got Nittanyville going crazy over here. I think it would be crazy to think this is just another game. I think this is a great opportunity for our team. Our kids are really excited.”
Identity issue: It’s safe to say this Penn State team has struggled to find an identity through five games. “I think our identity is we’re a tough team,” O’Brien said. “We’re going to play hard, and we’ve got a lot of good players.”
– Compiled by Cory Giger