Testy PSU coach O'Brien short, to point relative to Indiana loss
No previous Penn State coach ever had to endure a loss to traditional Big Ten doormat Indiana.
Perhaps that's what left Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien so ornery during his weekly news conference Tuesday.
O'Brien, a former New England Patriots assistant, repeatedly seemed to be channeling his inner Bill Belichick in giving curt answers to questions ranging from just about anything that didn't involve praise for Michigan or hype surrounding the Lions' sold-out game against the Wolverines at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“I'm not talking about scholarships, sanctions, anything — I'm talking about Michigan,” O'Brien said three days after bringing up the team's reduced scholarship number — unsolicited — following Penn State's 44-24 loss at Indiana.
It was the Hoosiers' first victory against the Lions in 17 meetings, one in which O'Brien repeatedly said afterward that he needed to coach better.
By Tuesday afternoon, O'Brien said, “Indiana is over. It's in the rearview mirror.”
A sampling of some of O'Brien's sometimes-terse responses (after some, he expanded his answer):
Asked about the team's confidence level: “The team's confidence isn't shaken.”
On the recent shaky play of the offensive line: “Our offensive line has improved every week, and our offensive line will be ready to go on Saturday.”
On the impetus for one of his favorite mantras, the team's resiliency: “I don't know. I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist or anything…”
On the Lions' “mourning period” after losses, a phenomenon he has broached after defeats: “I'm kind of joking when I say that. I mean, it's a loss. It's over…”
On if he has used any player in practice to emulate Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner: “You really think I'm going to tell you what we do in practice to prepare for Devin Gardner?”
Asked to gauge the play of his linebackers: “What do you mean gauge them? What does that mean?”
On if the Lions need a legitimate No. 2 receiver to complement Allen Robinson: “It depends on how you guys define No. 2 guys. Geno (Lewis) had six catches. How many do you want the No. 2 guy to have? If Allen has 12, should the No. 2 have 11?”
O'Brien's players who spoke publicly Tuesday similarly had a bad taste in their mouths still lingering from the defeat to Indiana.
Linebacker Mike Hull said the plane ride home from Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday evening was “a long one” but that by Monday practice, “spirits were high again.”
“Obviously, we were disappointed,” Hull said. “….(but) we watched the film… and we're ready to prove ourselves again.”
Linebacker Glenn Carson said the Lions were out to “redeem themselves.”
“Everyone is really anxious after a loss to get back on the field and just focus in on what we need to do to get a win,” Carson said. “That's really what we want.”
Notes: O'Brien indicated the Lions will go a bit farther down the depth chart against Michigan than they have through five games. “You'll see more guys playing this week,” he said. … Safety Ryan Keiser (hand) was listed as “questionable” for the Michigan game, and O'Brien said linebacker Ben Kline is “ready to go” after he “popped his shoulder out” during practice last week and sat out the Indiana game. … Receivers Allen Robinson (lower back) and Brandon Felder (ankle) also were given the green light by O'Brien. … O'Brien said it wasn't injury that kept freshman tight end Adam Breneman or redshirt junior receiver Alex Kenney from playing against the Hoosiers.