Penn State defensive coordinator Butler has O'Brien's support
College Football Videos
Asked about the “heat” his defensive coordinator was taking, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien got hot.
“John Butler is a hell of a football coach,” O'Brien said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
“If anybody should take heat, it's Bill O'Brien, not John Butler. I don't know where that's coming from, but hopefully that will get squelched. That's a bunch of crap that he's taking heat.”
The temperature has been turned up — from the outside, at least — on the Nittany Lions' first-year coordinator as the autumn air has chilled. Since the calendar flipped to October, Penn State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) has allowed an average of 49.0 points and 520.3 yards per game.
That coincides with the beginning of conference play, and the Lions have allowed at least 40 points to each of their three Big Ten opponents this season. To put that number into perspective, Penn State had allowed 40 or more points three times over its previous 120 Big Ten contests.
Through their first 20 Big Ten seasons, the Lions allowed 40-plus points against conference rivals just four times. That total can be matched over a four-game span if Illinois (3-4, 0-3) happens to score 40 at Beaver Stadium at noon Saturday.
“Obviously, Saturday night was not the defense's best night,” O'Brien said of a 63-14 loss at Ohio State. “Let's call it like it is. But I do think that there has been some improvement. Some individual players that are playing better, and at the end of the day it comes down to a combination of coaching and playing. So I think that if we can put them in better positions to make plays, that will help, and I think guys have got to go out there and make plays.”
Too many plays have been made against Penn State this season by elite offenses. The best four teams the Lions' have played — No. 23 Central Florida, No. 21 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State and Indiana, which has the nation's eighth-best scoring offense — have combined to average 527 yards and 45.3 points against them.
Those four opponents combined for 29 plays of 20 or more yards against Penn State's defense — at least seven each during the Lions' three losses.
Butler is in his first season as a defensive coordinator at the Division I level. He was hired as the Lions' secondary coach when O'Brien took over as Penn State's coach in early 2012. Butler was promoted when former coordinator Ted Roof left in January to take the same position at Georgia Tech.
Although it's not uncommon to see the fiery Butler yelling or being animated on the sidelines, his players repeatedly have supported him.
“Coach Butler is a guy that is always working with us as players to develop us every single week, every single day,” safety Jesse Della Valle said. “He's extremely passionate about what he does in his profession. I think I speak for every player on our team when I say that everyone has a lot of respect for him and really respects the work that he does for our team.”
O'Brien, who doubles as offensive coordinator, said he meets with Butler “seven days a week, two or three times a day,” and that they are in constant communication throughout games.
“He works his tail off, the kids respect him, he's doing a hell of a job,” O'Brien said. “I don't care what the scoreboard says or what the yardage says — this guy is our defensive coordinator. He's MY defensive coordinator. I'm proud to coach with him.”
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.
- Innovation enhances Philadelphia’s history as Democrats convene, Pope Francis visits
- Woman shot outside Kennywood Park in West Mifflin
- Draft accords of sanctions relief at Iran nuclear talks in hand
- Apollo Independence Day celebration salutes those who sacrificed
- United Way Impact Fund Grants to award $445K to 26 Butler County nonprofits
- State-owned universities spend millions in race to snare students
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Anti-Clinton crowd looks left to Sanders
- Pakistani military says it achieved major victory over Islamist terrorists