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Coach speak with Bill O'Brien: Coach plans to go for it -- a lot
September 11, 2012 - Cory Giger
A capsule look at Bill O'Brien's weekly news conference.
Opponent: Navy (0-1)
Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions lost, 7-6, in 1974, and they hold a slim lead in the all-time series at 18-17-2
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Line: PSU is favored by 6; over/under is 45 1/2
Forget about punting: O'Brien already has shown a gambler's mentality going for it seven times in two games -- converting five -- and he boldly said this Tuesday: "Once we get really close to the 50, I'm pretty much not going to punt it. I'm just going to tell you that. Like, we're going to go for it, unless it's fourth and forever. ... We prepare the kids for it. The kids know we're going to go for it."
Morale not a problem: The Lions are 0-2 and just lost in heartbreaking fashion, but O'Brien isn't concerned about losing the team. "I see the morale as really at a good level," he said. "The morale is really set by your seniors. The coaches, we have a lot to do with it," but on this team it's players like LB Michael Mauti, FB Michael Zordich, DT Jordan Hill and others setting the morale.
Jones to debut at TE: There's still a package of plays Paul Jones could run at quarterback, but he is working out at the flex tight end position and is expected to see game action there this week. "Paul and I have a very good relationship, very honest relationship," O'Brien said. "We've had a lot of discussions about his role on the team. He's a 260-pound guy that is athletic and loves to play football. ... We feel like right now the best thing for us to do with him is to try him at this 'F' position. Now, the 'F' position is not really a true tight end. It's somebody that can play out wide as a wide receiver. It's somebody that can play in a wing position in the formation. It's somebody that's a move guy, somebody that can line up in the backfield."
Red (zone) alert: Sam Ficken missing field goals is a glaring problem, but O'Brien knows his offense has major concerns in the red zone. "Wherever I've been, we've always prided ourselves on being a good red zone team," he said. "So we're going to spend a lot of time on that this week, and hopefully we'll see improvement." He added he likes to try and run the ball in the red zone and added he needs to do a better job with the play calls.
Respect for Navy: O'Brien said the way Navy plays, with its triple-option attack and commitment to running the ball, will test his team's discipline and toughness. "It's a difficult, difficult team to play against," he said before deadpanning, "I didn't schedule Navy."