Penn State preparing for loud atmosphere

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
9:00
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Students walking along part of McKean Road could hear the bass and the faint sound of music emanating from the practice football fields Wednesday afternoon.

First came Weezer, then Kanye West and then Wiz Khalifa. On the practice fields, under a pink-and-blue sky, some players bobbed their heads to the beat during Wednesday stretches. Reporters were forced to raise their voices to speak with colleagues a shoulder's length apart, as if at a downtown bar on a Saturday night.

Bill O'Brien has often emphasized preparing for road crowds by lugging oversized speakers onto the practice field. Usually, different playlists and styles will blare from those tan speakers every Wednesday. But, usually, visitors can't hear the music before they pull into the parking lot.

"I would expect that this atmosphere will be very loud, very intense, from what I hear," O'Brien said. "Again, it's Nebraska-Penn State, that's what college football's all about."

Some players pointed to communication issues because of noise during the Ohio State game -- and O'Brien's been searching for a fix since then. Even Matt McGloin acknowledged he was caught off-guard upon needing to use a silent cadence inside Beaver Stadium.

O'Brien crossed his arms following his team's first Big Ten loss and said he realized his team needed to be better prepared. After a quiet Purdue crowd, it appears as if O'Brien's found a simplistic way to mimic more crowd noise: Turn up the volume.

"Nebraska's a very hostile environment, so we're trying to simulate their environment," wideout Brandon Moseby-Felder said.

The speakers were angled slightly left Wednesday, toward McGloin slinging passes to the running backs and wide receivers pulling down short passes from the assistant coaches. The music started before reporters first arrived to the fields around 4:50 p.m.

The Nittany Lions aren't quite sure what to expect from Memorial Stadium because the last time they entered the Cornhusker State, in 2003, O'Brien was coaching running backs at Maryland and McGloin had just hit his teen years.

O'Brien doesn't have first-hand experience with the stadium, but he knows its fan base and history. Three weeks ago, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter told The Chicago Tribune the offense couldn't hear his cadences during the final two minutes because of the Cornhuskers' crowd -- and the game was at Northwestern.

"We're going to go to Nebraska, we're going to experience that stadium and have fun in that stadium and play a great game," center Matt Stankiewitch said. "And that's the mentality. ...

"We're really looking forward to wearing a jersey for the last time on the road."

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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