O’Brien not interested in talking about Robinson’s NFL readiness
A capsule look at Bill O’Brien’s weekly news conference
Opponent: Nebraska (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten)
Kickoff: Saturday 3:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium
Line: PSU is favored by 2 1/2; over/under is 50 1/2
About the Cornhuskers: RB Ameer Abdullah leads the Big Ten in rushing (1,336 yards) and yards per game (133.6). QB Taylor Martinez (foot) is out for the season, so freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. has taken over. He’s completing only 53 percent and has seven TDs with seven INTs. They’re coming off a 41-28 home loss to Michigan State.
“That’s ridiculous:” While most are wondering if this will be star receiver Allen Robinson’s final home game, O’Brien wanted no part of that speculation. He was asked how ready Robinson, a junior, is for the NFL and what he needs to refine in his game. “I’m not going down that road,” the O’Brien said. “We’re very focused on Nebraska. That’s not a road I’m going down. That’s ridiculous. He’s very focused on Nebraska.”
Immediately impressed: Robinson, who has a school-record 81 catches, is considered a potential first- or second-round NFL pick if he declares after this season. O’Brien recalled what he thought the first time he saw Robinson on the practice field last year. “He was a big guy. He was a fast guy. He was a bright-eyed guy,” the coach said. “He was a competitive guy, and he was raw. He was raw. He was a young guy that hadn’t played a lot before we got here because he was a freshman. But you could tell right away that he was going to be a really, really explosive, good player.”
Proper sendoff: O’Brien thinks very highly of his senior class, which has been through a lot in sticking with the program for two years after the scandal. “They stuck with this university, they stuck with this program, and they didn’t have to after the sanctions came out,” he said. “I think that says it all about this class.” Just like last year, when the Lions won their home finale against Wisconsin, it would mean a lot to O’Brien to have the seniors win their final home game. “One thing I’d like to say is this is a very important game for many reasons,” he said. “But probably the most important reason for our coaching staff is and myself personally is it’s the last home game for these seniors. So we’re putting everything we can into practice and making sure that we do as good a job as we can to help these seniors go out on a winning note.”
Standout protege: O’Brien said he did watch PSU alum Matt McGloin’s three-TD performance Sunday for the Raiders. “I thought he played a heck of a game,” he said. “That’s not an easy defense to go against, the Houston Texans. He completed passes. He threw the ball accurately, played with poise. Can’t say enough about him. He’s a smart guy. Smart guys that work hard that have talent, they really thrive in that league. They really do. I think that he’ll thrive in that league.”
Censoring the celebration: O’Brien said he agrees with Joe Paterno’s philosophy of players not doing individual celebrations after a big play. He was made aware that cornerback Jordan Lucas has acted like he was taking a selfie picture after some plays. “I’m glad you mentioned that to me,” the coach said. “We’ll have a discussion about that this afternoon in the team meeting. I’m going to take a selfie of him.” He was sort of joking when he said that, although not entirely as he wants the players to celebrate as a team and not as individuals.
Looking ahead: O’Brien brought up his “sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher” reference again when he had trouble hearing a question on the speakerphone in the Beaver Stadium media room. He then said, “We’ve got to get a better speaker next year.” Later, when talking about the playing surface at Beaver Stadium, the coach mentioned how great it is but that he would like to see improvements made on the outdoor practice field “over the next couple years.” It’s not like he made any promises, but he didn’t sound like a coach who has any intention of leaving for the NFL after this season.
— Compiled by Cory Giger