If you attended the weekly press conference of Penn State coach Bill O’Brien looking for some answers following the Nittany Lions’ loss last weekend to Indiana, you were in the wrong place.
O’Brien made it clear from the outset that Indiana was past, and the attention of coaches and players now was solely on 18th-ranked Michigan, Saturday night’s homecoming opponent at Beaver Stadium.
“We’ve moved on from Indiana,” he said. “We’re focused on Michigan. Our guys are very, very excited about the opportunity they have against a great Michigan team, 5-0 coming in here, 108,000 fans. Our guys are very focused on Michigan, learning the game plan, studying Michigan. Our guys are going to show up and play hard on Saturday night.”
Every question referencing the 44-24 loss to the Hoosiers was deflected by O’Brien, even one asking about whether the defeat shook his team’s confidence.
“The team’s confidence isn’t shaken,” he responded.
He also passed on a question that wanted to discuss whether he sought a better balance on offense after passing 55 times against Indiana.
“I’ve moved on to Michigan,” he said. “Indiana is over. It’s in the rearview mirror. That game is over. We’re focused on Michigan. We’re putting together a game plan. It’ll be finalized probably (Wednesday) night and we feel like it’s a good game plan, but we’ve got to go out and execute it on Saturday night.”
Regarding injuries, O’Brien said everyone was ready to go with the possible exception of safety Ryan Keiser, who is questionable with a hand injury.
The coach said two players who missed the Indiana game – wide receiver Brandon Felder (ankle) and linebacker Ben Kline (shoulder) – are ready, as is wide receiver Allen Robinson, who made a hard landing on his back trying to make a leaping catch in the end zone.
O’Brien said he and his team are looking forward to playing in front of a soldout “Whiteout” stadium.
“In my opinion – and obviously I’m very biased – but this is the best college football atmosphere on the country,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids in Nittanyville right now and we can’t thank the fans enough.
“We’re going to work extremely hard to come out and play as good a football game as we can play on Saturday night, mainly for this football team and for those fans that show up, 108,000 fans being as loud as they can be. 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 also said he’s not worried about his team coming out too emotional for the game.
“We tell them, look, this is an exciting opportunity,” he said. “I mean, Penn State-Michigan, ESPN, 5 o’clock, 108,000. I think it would be crazy to think this is just another game. Our kids are really excited.”