Questions about Penn State's starting QB annoy O'Brien

Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/AP)

The days leading up to Penn State’s season opener are dwindling but not the number of questions directed at coach Bill O’Brien regarding the identity of the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback.

And Thursday, on a conference call to hype the Lions' Aug. 31 debut against Syracuse at Met Life Stadium, O’Brien’s mood turned testy.

O’Brien said Tuesday that he’d name a starter between sophomore Tyler Ferguson and freshman Christian Hackenberg by the end of the week. When asked Thursday for a “clarification” as to when that day might be, O’Brien indicated he didn’t care for the question.

“I don’t know; it might not come until next week,” O’Brien said. “You know what? It may come on the first play of the game on offense.

“We’re all into this ‘clarification’ stuff. It’s my job to run this football team. I’m always going to do what’s best for the football team. As long as I’m the head football coach here, I will always do that. This has nothing to do with indecisiveness or doing this or doing that.”

Ferguson, a sophomore who transferred from a California junior college, had a slight lead coming into pre-season camp because he participated in spring football drills with the Lions. Freshman Christian Hackenberg, who didn’t arrive on campus until June, has looked good in camp, and O’Brien considers him even with Ferguson.

“I think the biggest thing is, we have two really good young quarterbacks and really my biggest focus and concern is with the football team,” O’Brien said. “The only thing I care about is the football team and the direction that we’re headed.

“I believe this football team understands where we’re at right now. Again, we have two really good young quarterbacks and those guys will both have to be ready to play for us this year.”

O’Brien said the Nittany Lions began preparations on Thursday for Syracuse.

--Joe Juliano

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