This week's press conference was held via satellite from Soviet Nebraska, with a boxing ring at center court of whatever their Jordan Center equivalent is. Stu Nahan was broadcasting. Bill O'Brien, dressed in Apollo Creed's American flag trunks made his way to the ring with Larry Johnson Sr, and an unshaven Ted Roof in his corner. We all sat in stunned silence. The Nebraska crowd boo'ed BO'B lustily.
Fireworks went off in the arena while the Russian National anthem blared over the loudspeakers. A 50-foot Soviet Nebraska flag unfurled from the rafters as his opponent, Bo Pelini, covered in red, ducked through the ropes. The two men met at the center of the ring to receive instructions from referee Lou Fillippo. Pelini towered over BO'B.
"I must break you," mouthed Pelini.
"Go for it," answered BO'B.
It looked like a repeat of Nebraska's win over Idaho State in the early rounds. Pelini, jacked up on steroids, landed haymaker after haymaker. A lesser man would have been killed. But BO'B landed a right cross that cut Pelini in round 3. Initially stunned, Pelini backed up, and then, after the bell, Pelini took a cheap shot - and wow did that ever piss BO'B off. He picked up Pelini, and 'threw him to the ground like a wrestler'. It was World War 3.
"You cut him! You hurt him! You see! He's not a machine! He's a man! He's 40!" screamed LJ Sr as BO'B made his way back to his corner.
"You're doin' good, BO'B. Couldn't do better myself," said Ted.
"He like piece of iron", Pelini wondered, with a really bad, forced Russian accent.
In either round 10 or 11, Nebraska AD Tom Osborne came down from the luxury suites, and slapped Pelini in the head for losing to little BO'B. "Win more than 9 games, dammit!" shouted the old man.
Pelini picked Osborne up by the throat, and threw him into an old, worn out Brigitte Nielsen, who immediately requested her $50 appearance fee. "I win for me! For me!" cried Pelini.
BO'B knocked out Pelini in the 15th round, and, with a translator handy, said a few words to the crowd:
"When I came there, to Penn State, I saw a lot of people hating me, like LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short. So, I guess, I didn't know how to feel about yous neither..........But as I began killin' the shitty Big Ten with a depleted roster and a QB you all hated, I saw some of yous start to change. So if yous can change...........and McGloin can change.......................EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE!"
The all-red Nebraska crowd stood and applauded, as is their tradition, win or lose.
And Then The Press Conference Started
Q: What do you see as the similarities between Braxton Miller and Taylor Martinez, both good throwing arms, solid quarterbacks?
O'Brien: Good question, I believe that both guys are tremendous athletes; they both have excellent speed. I believe that both of those guys have worked on their throwing mechanics and improved throwing the football. Taylor Martinez has done an excellent job. I think he's completing 65% of his passes, he is an accurate guy, he can run, and they both‑‑ they have great command of their offense, so they know‑‑ they're coached very well. They know what they want to do, how they want to attack things and obviously with both guys it's a huge challenge for any defense.
Q: How do you think your depth overall on the team has developed this year, especially now that you have guys like Jesse James, Brandon Moseby‑Felder and James Terry to play bigger roles for you?
O'Brien: Sure, these guys have stepped up. If you look at every position. If you start on offense and you look at the offensive line, we played a lot of guys on the offensive line through the year, Ty Howle plays, Angelo Mangiro played, Eric Shrive played. Look at the running back position, you guys know as well as I do we have played a lot of guys there. We have played guys at receiver, Felder has come along, Matt Zanellato had a catch last game, Trevor Williams, Alex Kenny, Evan Lewis has seen time. You look at the tight end, you just mentioned Jesse James, all the guys have done a nice job stepping up for the most part. You look at the defensive team and the defensive line, I believe we do a really good job of rotating guys in there, keeping guys fresh and you mentioned James Terry, Kyle Baublitz has played, Pete Massaro has played, a number of guys contributed there, Mike Hull plays linebacker, and we were able to get Yancich and Kline in there. Those guys went in there and played hard. The secondary, those guys don't have as many numbers there, but we've got guys in, and most of these guys are on full scholarship, and that's their role, to step up and play when we ask them to play.
Q: How do you expect the atmosphere playing a road game at Nebraska to differ than the other three Big Ten road games you've played?
O'Brien: Well, I would expect that this atmosphere will be very loud, very intense, from what I hear. I've never been to Nebraska but from what I hear they have respectful fans, they're loud, they cheer for their team and they appreciate an opponent that plays hard and plays clean. We're really looking forward to it. It's, again, it's like Nebraska ‑ Penn State, that's what college football is all about. You have two big‑time college football programs that have two good coaching staffs and a lot of good players and playing in a great game in Lincoln, that atmosphere, hopefully it's fun.
Q: I was wondering if you could talk about back‑up offensive line guys, Baublitz, Terry, have they given you at this point in the season kind of what you were expecting in that position?
O'Brien: They sure have. I've been pleased with both those guys. You know, they're guys that don't start but they play. When they go in there they play hard, and they do what they're supposed to do. They play their assignment as best that they can and they're Penn State football players. They accept their role and they do‑‑ they try to excel in their role, and they've made plays for us this year. James Terry had a couple of big plays in the Purdue game, had a sack in the red area, Kyle, when he has gone in there, he's played hard, too, and he's a tough guy. Great kid to be around.
Q: The Big Ten is going to be announcing All‑Big‑10 teams in a few weeks. First, I wanted to know your thoughts about all‑conference teams, and given Matt's production in the passing game, do you feel like he deserves consideration as one of the first two All‑Big‑10 teams at quarterback?
O'Brien: Joe, I respect the question, I'm focused on Nebraska. I'm not thinking about all‑conference teams. We're focused on a very good football team in Lincoln, Nebraska and the University of Nebraska with a great coaching staff and great players. After the season I'll read who is on the all‑conference team, but right now I am just focused on the opponent.
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries
Q: Bill, can you give us an update on the status of Jordan Hill and Kyle Carter for this week?
O'Brien: Both those guys, Rich, are day‑to‑day. They come in every day for treatment. Then, you know, we take a look at 'em in the training room, in the weight room, out on the field, and really that will be a later‑in‑the‑week decision, whether they can play or not.
Q: Were Hill and Carter able to do anything in practice this week?
O'Brien: Yeah, yep. They've been able to do some things, yeah.
Fishes In Newspaper
Q: You were asked about the running back situation. The message sent to Bill Belton, how important do you think it is to send that message, to work hard in practice, first‑year program? What does that tell everybody on the team for ya?
O'Brien: I wouldn't say it's so much of a message, as I would say that from day one that I arrived here and our staff arrived here we've talked to our guys about the importance of practice and producing in practice. Everything you get is earned. It's earned on the practice field. So there is no message being sent. That was just‑‑ that's what we do. There is a reason why you practice. You practice to compete and get ready for games, and life is about competition. We try to compete every day and we try to be as fair as we can as coaches and tell the players who are starting or who are going to play important roles, why they're playing and the other guys need to step it up and tell them why.
Those are conversations between myself and those players but that's really the deal with us, always, will be at Penn State that we're going to practice hard and reward players that practice the right way.
Q: Can you talk about the development of your running game how it's develop throughout the first eight, nine games?
O'Brien: Yeah, I believe it's‑‑ I definitely believe it's improved. I was sitting there this morning thinking about how much this team has improved from the first day we started spring practice to where we are now. It really an ongoing process, and football is about improvement and how can you get better, and how does that translate to winning games. I think the running game has improved; I believe it can be even better. I think some of that has to do with me as a head coach and making sure that‑‑ and as the play caller, making sure that I'm putting these guys in the best position to run the football. I think our offensive line has improved, I think our offensive line plays together and communicates well and they're tough and smart and they're coached very well by Mac McWhorter, and I think our running backs have competed, competed in practice, and they've improved as the year has gone on with different seems. These are different schemes than these kids ran before. We run the power one way; they ran it different from I got here, outside zone, inside zone, so it's not that easy to get used to the different ways of running the football and blocking schemes and things, so I do think there has been improvement and hopefully it can continue.
Q: When you are assessing quarterback talent, how much do you weigh someone's physical skills versus mental or intangible qualities? Can you talk about Matt's development in those areas?
O'Brien: Great question. They're really very equal. There are some things that are givens when you look at a quarterback. The guy has to be accurate. Doesn't necessarily mean that he has to have a rocket arm, he has to be accurate. So that's number one. Beyond that what else do you look for, decision making. So when you're watching a high school game, a high school tape you have to do the best you can to decide or judge is this guy making good decisions on tape. You don't really know what he's being coached to do, you're looking at the film and saying, okay, it's cover one, and he tried to stuff the ball in over here where really he should have gone over here‑‑ you're trying to make educated decisions on how he makes decisions. And then when you meet the young man which in college, and it is difficult because you're not allowed to be around them as much because of the rules, but when you do you just try to talk to them and learn about him as a person, learn how he communicates, how his mind works, how he thinks about things and obviously intelligence becomes a big, big factor. In Matt we knew right away we had a smart guy, a guy that was going to work, we knew we had a competitive guy. You have to give Matt a lot of credit because to this point in the season he's‑‑ people have critiqued him and this and that, but this guy has had a good year. The proof is in how he's played and he's meant a lot to our football team, and I'm proud of the kid for how far he's come.
Q: At this point in the season, are you able to find you are able to get nuanced with Matthew McGloin a little bit? Does he come to you and say, "Hey, I think we should do this?" Does he come to you that way?
O'Brien: No question he's earned my trust and he studies tape and I wouldn't say that he comes to me a lot with ideas, you know, but he does‑‑ during the games he sees things and he'll say, "Hey, they're doing this, we might want to try that," and they're good thoughts. The touchdown against Purdue, that was Matt. He said, "Hey, Coach, they're jumping that slip screen, we might want to go" ‑‑ that was Matt. So as you learn more about your role and the offense, you have every right to have communication between coach and player and Matt has definitely earned that right.
Q: Did you want to have that as a coach, with a player that makes suggestions?
O'Brien: I want a player that understands that he needs to earn the right to do that, but then once he shows us and gains our trust that he can go out there and make plays and get us into the right play and make good decisions, that, yeah, as the relationship builds you definitely want to hear what he thinks.
Q: Jesse James stepped in for Kyle Carter pretty well against Purdue. How has he developed this season and what kind of potential do you think he has going forward?
O'Brien: He has unlimited potential. He is a 6‑7, 265‑pound young kid who came out of high school early, took a while to learn what we were trying to do, but, you know, he kept working at it, he's a hard‑working Pittsburgh kid and he is coached well, again, by John Strollo, and he's done well in the weight room and we're expecting big things from over the next few years, no question, and the next few games.
Q: What do you think a stereotypical November Big Ten, football, are Zwinak and Zordich ‑‑ are they the type of guys that you need to win in this type of country?
O'Brien: Actually I was talking to Tony about when is it going to start snowing around here? But when I think of November Big Ten football I think of snow, tough, sound, fundamental football, good defense, good situational football and I just think of good teams going against each other with a lot of tradition so that's basically what I think of when I think of November Big Ten football.
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