Bill O’Brien and his Nittany Lions have short-term goals, such as using a Thanksgiving week without academic concerns to focus on Wisconsin and trying to send his seniors out with a victory.
As in trying to find a way to control arguably the Big Ten’s two best running backs – in the same backfield.
Trying to win as a 24-point underdog.
Saturday could be the final time Bill O’Brien gets to coach Brandon Felder (left) and Allen Robinson.
But there are longer-term goals to look at now, as well, and O’Brien admitted as much in his final regular-season weekly press conference.
“We’re very focused on Wisconsin, we really are. But the reason we’re focused on Wisconsin has a little bit to do with the future,” he said.
O’Brien mentioned how Saturday’s game on the road against an opponent driving for a big bowl game is invaluable experience for those Lions returning in 2014 and beyond. From team-leader linebacker Mike Hull to young cornerback Jordan Lucas (“He didn’t play a lot for us his first year. Now he comes in and he’s one of our better players.”) to his prized freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg.
“I feel really good about where the program’s at, O’Brien said. “I think that recruiting has gone well. I think if you look at the (2013 recruiting) class that we brought in here, from what I can see right off the bat, I don’t think there are any “busts”.
“I think there are some really good players nobody’s even seen yet who are redshirting. And then, obviously, the guys who played this year for us, the Brandon Bells, the Hackenbergs, the (Adam) Brenemans. We feel good about the future. We feel good about where we’re headed recruiting wise.
“Look, I’m not going to get into predictions or anything like that. That’s not what I’m saying. But I think our program with the two year sanctions that we’ve been under and … with the limited amount of guys we could offer and guys who left the program, I think our program stands on pretty solid ground right now.”