O’Brien giving credit to Robinson, Felder for clutch drive
UNIVERSITY PARK – While Penn State’s last drive of regulation on Saturday, which saw the Nittany Lions march 80 yards down field in just four plays, may define Christian Hackenberg’s young career, Bill O’Brien looked to give some credit elsewhere.
O’Brien mentioned all three of the passes made on the final charge for Penn State, but pointed out Allen Robinson’s two catches, one of which placed the Nittany Lions on the Michigan 1-yard line, and Brandon Felder’s grab, too.
“I would give the credit there to the receivers that went up and made those plays, Brandon and Allen,” O’Brien said on a Big Ten coaches conference call Tuesday.
Although O’Brien gave credit to the catches made by the receivers, he said the drive aides Hackenberg’s confidence.
“Obviously, any time you win a game like that and you have a drive like that, it helps your confidence,” O’Brien said. “It helps you the next time when a situation like that comes up, you’ve already accomplished that type of situation.”
Saturday’s quadruple overtime victory also marked the halfway point in Penn State’s 2013 season and Hackenberg’s freshman year.
Hackenberg has compiled a completion percentage just under 60 percent while tallying 1,672 passing yards and 11 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
The freshman leads the Big Ten conference in average passing yards per game with an average just under 280 per game and received three Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors – one of which came this week.
O’Brien said he believes Hackenberg is improving every week and every time the freshman sees something, it is the first time he is seeing it at the college level.
“Now we head to Ohio State and he’s playing a game in one of the most famous stadiums in the history of college football,” O’Brien said. “So, that’ll be new for him.”
O’Brien said Hackenberg is a focused quarterback, but he can always continue to improve on his accuracy, his mechanics and his knowledge of the offense.
News and notes
n Ignore Indiana
Twice in the week following Penn State’s first ever loss to Indiana fans were told not to ask questions about the game in Bloomington.
Three announcements were made before O’Brien’s Penn State Football Show, which was held Thursday at Damon’s Grill, not to ask questions regarding the subject and fans attending the quarterback luncheon on Wednesday were instructed to do the same.
In O’Brien’s press conference held the Tuesday following the 44-24 loss in Bloomington, O’Brien did not entertain any questions about Indiana and opted to shift the focus toward the Nittany Lions’ upcoming game with Michigan.
Flash forward a week and O’Brien said the announcements were not made while he was there and he has no problem with answering questions regarding any topic.
“Any question that anybody wants to ask me, they can ask me,” O’Brien said. “I’m going to answer it however I feel like answering it … if [the announcements] did happen, I will make sure that that doesn’t happen again.”
n Lynch’s playing time
Akeel Lynch leads the Penn State three-headed monster of running backs in yards per carry, but the redshirt freshman’s playing time is staggered.
Lynch busted out for 108 yards against Eastern Michigan following the season opener against Syracuse in which he did not receive a carry. After Eastern Michigan, Lynch only saw five carries, but broke out again in the next game with Kent State for 123 yards – a career high.
However, against the Wolverines, Lynch did not see offensive action for the second time this season.
O’Brien assured there is nothing wrong with Lynch nor his production, but his lack of playing time Saturday came as a result of Bill Belton’s strong play.
“I think in the last game we had an idea going in that we were going to rotate three backs,” O’Brien said. “Then once we had Billy in there, we felt like Billy was doing some things really well, so we didn’t really want to take Billy out.”
O’Brien said it was his decision to keep Belton in and the decision does not reflect the coaching staff’s opinion of Lynch nor his future playing time.
“We think the world of Akeel Lynch, and we’ll continue to work him into the lineup,” O’Brien said.
n Needed rest
With the tolls that a four-overtime game takes, the Penn State practice schedule was adjusted accordingly.
“[Monday], what we did is we went out there and had a scrimmage with our younger guys,” O’Brien said. “Tried to get some improvement there and then our older guys conditioned and that was about it for them.”
O’Brien said the team returned to practice Tuesday, Wednesday and probably Thursday in wake of the game that lasted four hours and 11 minutes in length.
“Four-overtime game, it was a long football game,” O’Brien said. “The biggest goal for us this week is to get healthy.”