As expected, Bill O’Brien quickly dissected the game tape of the four-overtime victory over Michigan.
And he has adjusted his practice schedule to account for the longest Big Ten game in history, as well as Penn State’s second bye week of the season.
Of course, he said he and his players already have moved on — onto to preparing for the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes, who he called the best team in the league. He described the Horseshoe as “one of the most famous stadiums in college football.”
O’Brien is definitely not a look-in-the-rear-mirror kind of coach.
But that stunning rally in front of a sold-out Beaver Stadium white out crowd? The longest game in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season? The wild swings of emotion and momentum? Knocking off an unbeaten?
Even O’Brien allowed himself a laugh when asked if certain plays from Saturday night still linger, at least to the football aficionado side of him.
At first, he said “I’ll probably have to wait until the end of the year” to really appreciate the magnitude of the game. “Really, our staff and our players have moved on.”
But then he couldn’t resist. His most memorable moments: Christian Hackenberg’s heave to Allen Robinson at the 1 to set up the tying touchdown with 27 seconds left; Bill Belton’s fourth-and-one run in the final overtime; Anthony Zettel’s early interception that set up a touchdown and C.J. Olaniyan’s sack and forced fumble on Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner.
“There are four or five plays that really stood out,” he said.
Certainly, extra confidence is gained heading into an off-week to prepare for a trip to face top five Ohio State in prime time on national TV.
The Buckeyes play Iowa in Columbus (3:30 p.m.) this Saturday.
For Penn State, the two-week build-up began Monday with young, deep reserves scrimmaging while upperclassmen and key backups only conditioned. O’Brien said he expects the entire team to go through regular workouts today, Wednesday and Thursday.
“Our biggest goal for us this week is to get healthy,” he said.
And, once again, linebacker is the key spot to benefit from the time off. Dallastown’s Ben Kline missed a second-straight game with re-occurring shoulder problems and Nyeem Wartman and Mike Hull are playing but still are not fully healed from injuries.
Plus, first-time starters such as cornerback Jordan Lucas, Hackenberg and now Zettel could benefit from extra practice time.
So far, Hackenberg has improved every game of his true freshman season but still needs to continue working on mechanics and accuracy, O’Brien said.
As for promising tailback Akeel Lynch, who only got three carries at Indiana and no work against Michigan: “In the last game we had an idea going in we were going to rotate three backs,” O’Brien said. “Then we really didn’t wanna take Billy (Belton) out.
“(Lynch) practices hard, he’s a great kid, he’s a great teammate. … It’s not a reflection on Akeel Lynch, and we’ll continue to try and work him into the lineup.”