Penn State notebook: Lions make notable depth chart changes for OSU game
By Chris Adamski
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 10:09 p.m.
Bill O'Brien puts thought into constructing the official depth chart Penn State releases to the media each week.
He doesn't think his players put much time into looking at it.
The Nittany Lions' coach prefers to inform them himself.
“I don't think we use the media depth chart as a motivation,” O'Brien said Tuesday. “We bring them in and say, ‘Hey, so-and-so, you've got to do a better job of practicing, especially in these three plays you're struggling on right now. And this other guy is doing a better job than you, so he's playing. He's going to play this week.'”
Every week this season has featured at least a tweak to the official depth chart of fairly notable proportions. Sometimes, though, lineup changes that happen by game time aren't noted.
This week's alterations include some high-profile players at key positions: Running backs Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton and defensive ends Deion Barnes and Anthony Zettel.
For just the second time this season, Belton earned an “OR” at the top of the depth chart next to Zwinak. Barnes, the reigning Big Ten freshman of the year, did not start Penn State's most recent game on Oct. 12. Zettel started in his place and has earned an “OR” with Barnes.
“I don't look at it as Deion coming off the bench — I just look at it as Deion being a good team player and rotating in there, fulfilling his role when he's in there,” O'Brien said.
Zwinak had 1,000 rushing yards last season and leads the Lions this year, but he had 24 yards on eight carries and a key fumble against Michigan. Belton had six of his 27 carries in the fourth overtime.
O'Brien said both will play when Penn State plays at Ohio State at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Dealing with two bye weeks
For the first time since 2001, Penn State has two idle weeks in a season. Some years, the Lions didn't have one at all. During others, it came late. This season, Penn State did not play Sept. 28 and Oct. 19.
O'Brien said he and his staff spent time over the summer discussing the best way to approach the byes.
The team spent this past week differently than it did the idle week following the Sept. 21 game against Kent State. There was less physical on-field work and more rest and off-field preparation this time around.
Tackle Adam Gress said a bye week is ”always a good thing.”
“It helps everyone rest up and recover and also allows us a little more time to focus on the upcoming team,” the senior from West Mifflin said.
“It's nothing but beneficial. We started the week off good — and a lot of that has to do with the bye week.”
Guard John Urschel is an academic all-American who teaches integral vector calculus at Penn State.
But when it comes to the quick, in-game decisions that coaches have to make involving arithmetic or probability, O'Brien and his staff have never consulted with Urschel.
“Don't they have a manual for coaches where it says when to go for one, when to go for two, time left, quarter? I'm sure they could just come over and ask me if they'd like,” Urschel deadpanned.
“Yet they haven't, no. You can tell Coach ‘OB' that.”
Nittany Lions notes
Former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson — the 2005 Big Ten offensive player of the year — re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. ... O'Brien on the injury report: “Other than the guys who are out for the season, everybody is healthy for this game.” ... Although recovered enough from a hand injury to become a co-starter at safety, Ryan Keiser will no longer serve as a holder.
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Why give credence to Heisman?
- Steelers notebook: Worilds loses sack; Big Ben gets 1st career catch
- Century III new owner seeks to reverse vacancy trend with new theater
- Pirates not yet talking extensions with Alvarez, Walker
- Pirates sign free agent pitcher Volquez
- Motivated quarterback Roethlisberger fights to prop up Steelers
- Penguins center Sutter is thriving despite unsettled 3rd line
- Pitt’s Donald wins Lombardi Award
- Baldwin-Whitehall School Board eliminates controversial administrative position
- Driver just misses hitting Latrobe officer
- Health-insurance mandate poses potential hitch for volunteer fire companies