O'Brien will pick spots with no-huddle vs. Northwestern

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien likes to play with a brisk tempo on offense, even utilizing a no-huddle attack at times.

But he warned Thursday night that he’s going to be careful dialing up the no-huddle offense, which is nicknamed “NASCAR,” because of Northwestern’s success with the hurry-up attack.

“There’s usually a designated time for the first time we’re going to use it,” O’Brien said on his weekly radio show. “We’re going to go NASCAR so we see how the other team handles it. But we have to be careful against a team like Northwestern with NASCAR because they’re a NASCAR team.

“If you go three-and-out after 20 or 30 seconds, then you’re punting and your defense is back on the field. Our guys have done a real good job of it. In the Illinois game it helped us wear them down.”

Northwestern, which averages 82 offensive plays per game, rolled up 704 yards of total offense in its win last week over Indiana. That victory improve the Wildcats’ record to 5-0 and moved them into the national rankings at No. 24.

O’Brien called Northwestern “the best team we’ve played to this point” and said it is important for the Nittany Lions to stop multi-position player Kain Colter, who will line up at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

“It’s going to be a space game for our defense,” the coach said. “They’re going to have to do a great job of keeping him in the pocket. We’re going to have to do a great job if he runs, coming up and making the tackle. It’s going to be a big challenge for our defense.”

O’Brien began his portion of the show by urging students to get to the game before the noon start. Penn State has played one noon game to this point in the season, but the student section was only around half-full at kickoff.

“I would say, can we try to be in our seats ready to go at 11:45 and be as loud as we can possibly be?” O’Brien said. “Our players feed off the crowd, especially our student body. If you can get your studying done and be in the seats by 11:45, it would be fantastic.”

--Joe Juliano