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Coach speak with Bill O'Brien: News conferences much different now than with Paterno

August 28, 2012 - Cory Giger
A capsule look at Bill O'Brien's weekly news conference.

Opponent: Ohio (10-4 last season)

Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions won, 35-16, in 1974 and are 5-0 all-time in the series.

Kickoff: Saturday, noon

Television: ESPN

Line: Penn State is favored by 6

Real football talk: Joe Paterno's weekly news conferences became less and less about current football in recent years and more about Penn State's past, historical perspective or anecdotes and the coach's inability to hear the questions. It's very different with O'Brien, who fielded a bevy of football-specific questions Tuesday and didn't question what the reporter was driving at by asking, as Paterno often did. O'Brien provided some details -- not many, but some -- on just about every question and at least showed a willingness to address important topics and issues rather than get perturbed by the questions.

Quiet respect: O'Brien didn't mention Paterno on Tuesday, and he really hasn't much since the sanctions came down. The new coach has made some big changes, such as names on the jerseys and switching up the blue bus arrival time, and clearly has taken steps to make the program his own. "I have respect for many, many of the traditions," O'Brien said. "I have respect for all the traditions that have gone on before I came here, and so what I decided to do was put -- not put my own stamp on the program -- but to just put our own philosophy as a staff into place."

Freshmen at forefront: Penn State's depth chart has numerous freshmen in first- and second-string spots, and O'Brien seems committed to getting his young guys playing time. "If they're on the depth chart, I'm counting on them to go out and contribute," he said. "These guys are good football players. It's a strong freshman class. ... We would expect them to contribute in a positive way."

Kickoffs moved up: Kickoffs will be at the 35-yard line instead of the 30 in college this season, a move designed to help player safety. That will bring strategy into play, too. "That'll be interesting to see, you know, how teams approach that, whether they just kick it through the end zone or pooch kick it," O'Brien said. "We're actually prepared for all different kinds of situations there."

What kind of coach is he? O'Brien was asked if he considers himself a gambler as a head coach or if he even knows what kind of coach he is yet. "I have a pretty good idea what type of coach I am," he said. "I consider myself a football coach, and I would never put a label on myself, but I have a pretty good idea what type of coach I am. I'm a coach that believes in sound offense and sound defense and playing good on special teams and not turning the ball over, not committing stupid penalties, and at the end of the day, hopefully that's a winning recipe."

 
 

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