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Coach speak with Bill O'Brien: Allen Iverson wouldn't have like coach's stance on practice

November 6, 2012 - Cory Giger
A capsule look at Bill O'Brien's weekly news conference.

Opponent: Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten)

Last time vs. Penn State: The Lions lost at home last year, 17-14

Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

Television: ABC

Line: Nebraska is a 7-point favorite; over/under is 53 1/2

We're talkin' about practice: O'Brien stresses practice hard, or you won't play. It's that simple. Running back Bill Belton learned that lesson Saturday at Purdue, playing only one snap. O'Brien said that situation wasn't about sending a message, basically because the message has been sent since day one. "Everything you get is earned; it's earned on the practice field," O'Brien said. "So there is no message being sent. That was just, that's what we do." Allen Iverson's famous practice rant years ago obviously wouldn't have sit well with O'Brien. "There is a reason why you practice," the coach said. "You practice to compete and get ready for games, and life is about competition. We try to compete every day, and we try to be as fair as we can as coaches and tell the players who are starting or who are going to play important roles, why they're playing. And the other guys need to step it up, and [we] tell them why."

Proud of McGloin: O'Brien didn't bite on one question about lobbying for Matt McGloin as an all-conference quarterback, saying he's only concentrating on this week's game. But the coach did praise McGloin's physical and mental development. "In Matt we knew right away we had a smart guy, a guy that was going to work, we knew we had a competitive guy," O'Brien said. "You have to give Matt a lot of credit because ... this guy has had a good year. The proof is in how he's played, and he's meant a lot to our football team, and I'm proud of the kid for how far he's come."

Big-time progress: Few would have predicted the Lions would be 6-3 at this point after an 0-2 start. "I was sitting there this morning thinking about how much this team has improved from the first day we started spring practice to where we are now," O'Brien said. "It's really an ongoing process, and football is about improvement and how can you get better, and how does that translate to winning games."

Walk-on advice: Nebraska has long had a strong tradition of walk-on players, and PSU will need to rely on a number of walk-ons the next few years because of the scholarship reductions. O'Brien, who calls them run-ons, called the Cornhuskers "one of the pioneers" when it comes to developing those players and said he will seek input from Nebraska and other programs about how to implement a strong walk-on program. "Personally, I will reach out to some of those coaches or athletic directors and see how exactly they went about doing that. And I already have," he said.

Mr. Manners: The most lighthearted moment of Tuesday's press conference came when a reporter sneezed twice while O'Brien was in the middle of answering a question. The coach interrupted himself with a polite, "Bless you."

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