O’Brien takes in some baseball during bye
A capsule look at Bill O’Brien’s weekly news conference:
About the Hoosiers: Indiana opened with a 73-35 win over Indiana State, a tipoff the Hoosiers have a leaky defense, and they do, having been lit up in losses to Navy (41-35) and Missouri (45-28). They did beat Bowling Green, 42-10. After the loss to Missouri, like PSU, Indiana had an open date last week. Saturday’s game will be IU’s fifth-straight at home this season. Though they’re last in the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing 247 per game, the Hoosiers are first in passing offense (348 per game) and second in scoring offense (44.5). Quarterback Nate Sudfeld (81-124-11 TDs vs. 5 picks) and tailback Tevin Coleman (56-386) lead the offense.
Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions won, 45-22, at Beaver Stadium on Nov. 17, 2012 and lead the series, 16-0.
Injury report I: Per O’Brien, linebacker Mike Hull (knee) will play, safety Ryan Keiser (wrist) is out and questionable for the Oct. 12 game vs. Michigan, special teams player and State College product Jack Haffner (ankle) is doubtful for the Hoosiers.
Injury report II: O’Brien was asked about two players who are out for the year, tight end Matt Lehman and defensive end Brad Bars. He said he wasn’t sure if Bars, injured in the preseason, would seek a medical redshirt (he has another year of eligibility left). As for Lehman, “Obviously, we’re looking into it, and we would love for it to work out. I think if it doesn’t work out, he has a chance to play at the next level. [At] 6-7, 260, he’s tough, he can run, catch, so one way or another he will be playing football somewhere next year.”
Temper the tempo: Indiana likes to play at an even faster pace than Penn State. O’Brien said, “They’re trying to run 90-100 plays. We have to be able to handle their tempo and being able to tackle in space and not give up a ton of explosive plays is a big part of the game plan.”
Bye week(s): Penn State was idle last week and actually has two bye weeks (the other is Oct. 19) in a four-week stretch. O’Brien said the team practiced four times last week, including three times in full pads. The staff focused on critiquing its first four games – “whatever you may have tendency-wise and try to correct those,” he said – and improving individual and younger players. O’Brien said many of the players went home for the weekend, and the ones who didn’t were able to “chill out.” Penn State is 15-8 after bye weeks since joining the Big Ten; the Lions also have two next year.
Little League dad: Part of O’Brien’s Saturday was spent watching his youngest son, Michael, play in a youth baseball game in Lewistown. It lasted four hours. “Fun to watch, but it was a marathon,” O’Brien said, adding he got home in time to see parts of Ohio State vs. Wisconsin and Harvard vs. Brown, his alma mater, on TV.
Recruiting reaction: O’Brien said the NCAA’s decision last week to restore Penn State’s scholarships to 75 next year, 80 in 2015 and a full 85 in 2016 has been greeted positively by recruits. “I talked to a few of them; we’re only allowed one phone call a week right now,” he said. “It’s positive for Penn State. Our guys are pleased with the news, but we’re focused on the Indiana game.