Nittany Lions looking ahead to Michigan
STATE?COLLEGE?- Bill O’Brien made one thing clear early on in his news conference Tuesday.
“I’m here to talk about Michigan and Michigan only, and our team,” the coach said.
O’Brien heard a few questions about Penn State’s loss to Indiana on Saturday, but he spun them forward and responded with answers relating back to the No. 18 Wolverines.
“We’ve moved on from Indiana. We’re focused on Michigan,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien stressed it was just one loss and it was over, but linebacker Glenn Carson is using the defeat at the hands of the Hoosiers as fuel. The senior said the team is more determined now and is hungry for a win.
“We really need to get it, and no one on our team likes the feeling of a loss,” Carson said. “The best way to get over that loss, that feeling of a loss, is to win a game, so we’re really searching for this one.”
Carson also said the Nittany Lions are anxious to get back on the field and show what they can do moving past Indiana.
Center Ty Howle had the most direct answer during the news conference in reference to his botched snap on a field-goal try, which served as a microcosm of Penn State’s day in Bloomington.
In the first quarter, Sam Ficken lined up for a 31-yard field goal and what would have been the first points of the game, but he never got a chance to kick it.
The snap trickled by holder Alex Butterworth before Ficken fell on the ball at the Indiana 45-yard line, giving the Hoosiers good field position.
“To be honest, I just had a bad snap,” Howle said. “I’m working on it this week, and it’s not going to happen again.”
Penn State has struggled in attendance this year with all three games in Beaver Stadium hosting less than 95,000 fans.
That will change this weekend.
As the Lions host their annual whiteout game, the contest will be played in front of a packed house as it has already sold out.
O’Brien said Penn State is going to work extremely hard, mainly because the fans will be as loud as they can.
“It’s just going to be a great night to run through that tunnel and be able to play in front of fans like that,” O’Brien said. “We can’t say enough about our fans. We owe so much to them, and we’re just working hard to play well in front of them.”
The whiteout not only provides an electric atmosphere for fans, but also for recruits that are invited to the game. It can be utilized as a tool to show what Beaver Stadium is like at capacity, something that has not happened yet this year.
Carson said he came to a game against Illinois during his senior year of high school when he knew he was probably going to commit to Penn State, and the atmosphere was “phenomenal.”
“You could feel the tradition, roots and stuff while you’re at the game, it’s just a huge crowd,” Carson said. “Great fan support, so for the recruits, I think they’re really going to enjoy the game and see what we’re all about.”
Penn State’s touchdown machine in Zach Zwinak will be tasked with trying to record the first rushing touchdown against the Wolverines’ defense this season.
O’Brien said a look at Michigan’s defense shows it’s pretty typical for the Wolverines.
“I think Coach [Brady] Hoke is a fantastic coach, and he’s done a great job,” O’Brien said. “I think he’s in his third or fourth year there of putting together the type of team he wants, and on defense they’re very stout up front, very stout.”
Michigan is fourth in the Big Ten, allowing an average of only 305 yards per game. Defensive back Blake Countess is tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions with four, and linebacker Cameron Gordon is tied for second in the conference with three in sacks.
O’Brien said Michigan plays a lot of linebackers at the position, but the Wolverines may get another player added to their corps.
Jake Ryan, who led the Wolverines in just about every category possible last year including total tackles, solo stops, sacks and forced fumbles could return from an ACL injury he suffered in March.
While Hoke said Ryan could potentially come back, O’Brien is not preparing for anyone in specific.
“We’re going to play whoever shows up, obviously, but he’s a very good player, and we’ll have to know where he is if he does play. That’s for sure,” O’Brien said.
Receiver Allen Robinson landed hard on his back during the Indiana game and remained down on the field for a few minutes, but O’Brien assured on Tuesday that Robinson will be ready for Saturday’s game.
Fellow receiver Brandon Felder is “full go,” according to O’Brien.
Safety Ryan Keiser missed the Indiana game following an injury suffered during his career-best performance against Kent State and is questionable for the game. O’Brien said the Nittany Lions will know more about Keiser’s status by the end of today, but they feel “good about it.”
O’Brien also confirmed linebacker Ben Kline popped his shoulder out Thursday, and that’s why he did not play against the Hoosiers, but he will be ready for the Wolverines.