Tuesday, July 7, 2015

O'Brien takes a look back at epic four-overtime win over Michigan

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien allowed himself to take a look back at Saturday night's thrilling 43-40 win over Michigan in four overtimes, and acknowledged some memorable plays.

O'Brien takes a look back at epic four-overtime win over Michigan

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Penn State head coach Bill O´Brien. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/AP file photo)
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/AP file photo)
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As is his custom, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien quickly has directed his attention to his team's next game against fourth-ranked Ohio State even though much of Nittany Nation still is celebrating the team's epic four-overtime victory over Michigan.

But O'Brien acknowledged Tuesday that there were some plays made in Saturday's emotionally rewarding 43-40 win that he will remember for a long time, or at least once the season ends and he doesn't have any more opponents to prepare for.

"With our staff, our players, we've moved on," O'Brien said on the Big Ten coaches' conference call. "We've got to start getting ready for the best team in our conference, Ohio State," on Oct. 26.

But he went on to say the plays that have stuck in his mind are Christian Hackenberg's 36-yard pass to a leaping Allen Robinson inside the Michigan 1 on the last drive of regulation, the fourth-and-1 run by Bill Belton that kept alive the game-winning march, and an interception by defensive end Anthony Zettel in the second quarter.

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"I think there were four or five plays that stood out and those are some of them," he said. 

O'Brien spoke of the game-tying drive, during which the Lions went 80 yards in 23 seconds, and said his team practices the two-minute drill every day.

"We try to mix up the situations," he said, "and hopefully maybe two or three times during the year, those situations come up and our players have an idea how to react, and they have to go out there and execute." 

As for Hackenberg's role, he said, "Any time you win a game like that and you have a drive like that, it helps your confidence. It helps you the next time when a situation like that comes up. You've already accomplished that type of situation." 

O'Brien also praised the work of Belton, a Winslow Township High graduate who played nearly all of the second half and overtime and scored the winning touchdown.

"Once we had Billy in there, we felt like Billy was doing some things really well, so we didn't really want to take him out," he said.

O'Brien apologizes. Before O'Brien arrived at a State College restaurant last Thursday for his weekly radio show, several tweets from the location said the show's organizers had asked fans not to ask him about the previous week's loss to Indiana.

O'Brien said no such request was made but that he had heard something about it and apologized.

"I'm not in charge of my radio show," he said. "But if that did happen, I will make sure that doesn't happen again. . . . Anyone can ask any question they want and certainly I can answer it any way I want to. So I apologize if that did happen." 

Nittany notes. Hackenberg leads the Big Ten with 1,672 yards passing in six games, as well as completions and attempts (132 for 226). Robinson, whose five catches for 84 yards on Saturday were his second-lowest in both categories this season, still tops the conference in receptions (43) and yards (705).

Inquirer Staff Writer
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About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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