Tuesdays with O'Brien

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
3:30
PM ET
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien crossed his arms and smiled during Tuesday's news conference. Yes, he admitted, he had some butterflies.

"I'd be crazy to tell you otherwise," he said."This is my first football game as a head coach."

It's a wonder those butterflies weren't flapping more. The Nittany Lions face a dual-threat in Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton, and O'Brien still isn't sure about his own offense's identity. This game will set the tone for the season, which might be the most important in Penn State's history.

But O'Brien didn't sound like a man carrying the hopes of 110,000 fans on his shoulders on Tuesday. He spoke calmly, but forcefully, about this season.

"There is a lot of this that's a little bit about more than football," O'Brien said. "But as we head into this game, it's all about football. It's about going out there and playing as well as we can."

O'Brien didn't offer a list of predictions or projected stats. He said Penn State would see what works in the beginning and adjust. He laughed when asked if he scripted the first play. (He hadn't.) He smiled when asked if he would relax Friday night. (Are you kidding?) And he shook his head when asked for an estimate of the pass-to-run ratio. ("No.")

"If we have to throw it 60 times, we'll throw it 60 times," he said. "If we have to run it 60 times, we'll run it 60 times. We'll do whatever we have to to win the football game."

Injury update: Defensive end Pete Massaro will play Saturday. Shawney Kersey attended practice Monday, and Malcolm Willis is doing just fine. Jake Fagnano should also finally be back on the field.

No (backup) QB controversy: Paul Jones is the No. 2 right now, O'Brien said. Steven Bench is playing well, but he's still clearly behind Jones.

Quotables: On what he'll do Friday night, whether he'll relax:

"Yeah, I thought I'd relax and go play nine holes over at Toftrees [laughs]. No, I'd go to the hotel, we'll have meetings at the hotel, we'll have special teams meetings. We'll offer a couple religious services over there, and we'll have a snack and we'll go to bed. Then we'll wake up, have more meetings and, right up until gametime, there will be no shortage of going over the game plan."

Special teams: Secondary coach John Butler will manage special teams on Saturday, but O'Brien said each unit (punt, punt return, kickoff, kick return) is overseen by a different assistant during practice.

Alex Butterworth has grown a little more consistent, but O'Brien said he's still not sure about a returner. Alex Kenney is in the mix, however.

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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