At first we heard some sounds, but couldn't make them out. Off to my right, somebody said "is that The Undertaker's music?"
It wasn't. But as Bill O'Brien came into the press room wearing a sequined black velvet kimono with blue feathers, and with the WCW Championship Belt over his shoulder, we knew this week's press conference would be a lot different than last weeks.
Instead of the normal table and microphone, SID Jeff Nelson had hired "Mean" Gene Okerland to MC the presser.
Gene: "Bill, you notched your first win last week, how's it - "
Bill: "WOOOOOOO!!!! And WOOOOOOOO!!!!
Gene: "Big test this week with Temp-"
Bill: "We'll see how tough they are. WOOOOOOO!!!"
Bill: "-ek Day. To. Day. WOOOOOO!!!!"
Gene: "Zero rushing touchdowns so far. Your thoughts?"
Bill: "Points come from the passing game, lil' Gene. I'll take 'em anyway they want to give 'em. WOOOOO!!!!"
Gene: "Stephen Obeng, Da'Quan Jones..."
Gene: "Predictions for this Saturday?"
Bill: "I'm comin' out like a house on fire! You think I'm stoppin' because it's 4th and 26, Addazzio? You're a fool! What you got to match Allen Robinson, huh? We HAVEN'T EVEN TRIED TO RUN THE BALL YET!!! We're unleashing the Zordich beast this weekend, bee-atches!! Bringin' it home before conference play!! You want to claim Pennsylvania, Temple? YOU WANT TO CLAIM PENNSYLVANIA TEMPLE?!?!? WELL YOU GOTTA BEAT THE BEST, TO BE THE BEST!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!"
More of this crazy press conference after the jump.
Actual Press Conference
Q. Can you assess how things have gone for you as a play‑caller through three games?
COACH O'BRIEN: There is always room for improvement with the play calling. We have got to do a better job of continuing to get the play in quicker. We've got to do a better job of calling better plays.
There is always improvement there, always improvement that can be made.
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries
Q. How difficult has it been for you to deal with the tailback situation with how it's been with a new starter each week, and where is it at right now looking to Saturday in your eyes?
COACH O'BRIEN: I have a lot experience with that, because when you play runningback ‑ whether it's in college or in the NFL ‑ you get hit. It's a very, very physical position. It's a position where guys really lay it on the line and take some really tough, tough hits. Those are guys that are tough guys.
But at the same time there are injuries that occur, so I believe we're fortunate here at Penn State because we have a decent amount of guys there. They all do something a little bit different. One guy is a little bit bigger than the other guy; one guy is more of a third‑down guy; other guy may be more of a first‑ and second‑down guy.
So we've got some guys that can really play, so I don't think it's been as difficult. It's more like we said from day one, it's the next man up. So the next man's got to be ready to play when the one man goes down.
Q. Just wanted to ask you about the Nyeem Wartman. Do you expect to get him back soon, and how disappointing is it to see a guy get sidetracked just when he's getting started?
COACH O'BRIEN: It is disappointing because you feel bad for the guy. He's just a great kid who has a really, really bright future at Penn State. You are just feel bad for him that he was playing pretty well and then he has the injury.
I wouldn't expect him back for a while though.
Q. (Question regarding Derek Day and Bill Belton.)
COACH O'BRIEN: I would say that Day's probably a little bit ahead of Belton as far as where that is injury‑wise. But they're both, no pun intended, day to day. We will just continue to monitor that.
Like I was saying to the other question, these guys get beat up during the season. They're runningbacks. That's the nature of the position, so the next guy has got to be ready to go.
We've gotten decent production out of other guys. Curtis Dukes came in and did some good things on Saturday; Zordich did some good things; Zwinak needs to probably play a little bit more.
So we've got some guys there that can step up, we believe.
Q. Do you expect Donovan Smith to be available this week? Just to quickly follow up on the question about the redshirts, do the scholarship limitations factor into those decisions at all?
COACH O'BRIEN: No. We think about the here and the now, what's best for the football team right now. There are certain conversations that we have that do look to the future a little bit, but not as it relates to this team here, this freshman class here right now. That doesn't have a factor in it. It's just what's best for the Penn State football team in 2012.
Donovan is day to day. I know you guys hate that answer, but it's the truth. If he comes out today and he can move around, then maybe he's got a better chance to play. If he comes out today and he's gimpy, then probably won't play.
Walk-Ons, Run-Ons, Calling All Kickers and Cornerbacks
Q. Winter walk‑on tryouts; how many guys are looking to try out and what are some of the positions you're looking to bolster maybe through that process?
COACH O'BRIEN: Yeah, I believe they try out tomorrow. They try out tomorrow after practice. Not sure how many guys will show up, but I believe ‑‑ males or females, I'm not sure how many will show up. We'll see after practice tomorrow.
I would say positionally you would love to hopefully maybe there is a couple DBs in the crowd there. You know, that's usually the position right now that we're looking for because of numbers‑wise.
Other than that, I just want to try to get out there and see if we can find some good football players, you know, guys that are just hungry to play football that can move around a little bit, maybe catch the ball well. Maybe they're bigger guys that we think have a future as a lineman.
Just different things we'll be looking for. Just looking for football players though.
Other Cool Stuff
Q. What has Mauti's presence meant to the team so far this season, especially the past few games?
COACH O'BRIEN: Yeah, I just can't say enough about Mike Mauti. Usually when you guys ask me a question about an individual person I try to relate it to the team.
With him I'm more than happy to talk about him individually. He's just a fantastic guy. He's a guy that I'll keep in touch with the rest of my life. He's just a guy that has meant a lot to this football program, to this team, to his teammates. He's great in the locker room.
Just watching him play, boy, you wish you could have played that way. He just plays every play like it's his last play and plays within the scheme of the defense and just does an excellent job out there.
He's a guy that means a lot to me and means a lot to our football program.
Q. After the game you said you thought you had a good play on fourth down rather than kicking the field goal. Are you sticking with that?
COACH O'BRIEN: Yeah, I did. I felt like we had a play that's been a bread‑and‑butter play for us for a long time. We've thrown it for two touchdowns over the first two games against Virginia, and we had basically the same type of play against Ohio.
So it's a play that I think has really been a bread‑and‑butter play. I went with it. We blew the protection on it. I think if we got the protection picked up we had a play there, but Matt had to scramble.
So, yeah, no I felt good about that play.
Q. A lot of guys said after the game on Saturday that they were happy to win for you. What does that mean to hear that many coming from your players? Why do you think you've been able to develop that relationship with them three games into a season where a lot of other coaches it takes them a couple seasons to develop that type of relationship?
COACH O'BRIEN: I don't know. I really have a very strong relationship with these guys, and so does our staff. We talk all the time to these guys. They're not always like these rose‑colored conversations, but they're honest conversations. I think the guys appreciate that.
I try to be fair. I try to critique but do it in a fair and positive way. I think the staff does that. We've got a really good staff of communicators.
Again, like I've said from day one, the team that's here right now, I just really have a strong feeling about this team. I don't know what's going to happen. We have a tough schedule ahead of us. I really enjoy being around these guys and how though work and how they operate and talk to each other and how they talk to us as a staff.
So I just really like this team.
Q. Might a little early to ask this ‑ and injuries obviously dictate this ‑ but are there any imminent plans to play any more true freshman, or are we going to have some redshirts with most of those guys?
COACH O'BRIEN: I would say right now, going into the fourth game, it's more of a plan to try to redshirt these guys that haven't played.
Again, injuries do, like you said‑‑ you just got to‑‑ these guys are ready at a moment's notice. They are. They practice that way.
Some guys go back and forth between the dirty show and the first and second team practices. That's tough on them, but this is a very strong freshman class that I think has a really bright future here.
We'll see how it goes the rest of the year, but, yeah, at this point right now you would like to try to redshirt the guys that haven't played.
Q. What did you see from Kyle Carter from the spring and then pre‑season camp and then into the season that kind of led him to the top of the depth chart there?
COACH O'BRIEN: Well, I noticed right away that he was a play‑maker and that he had really good hands and he understood how to run routes. It was very instinctive. I noticed right away that he was a very bright smart guy, very smart. He could pick up the schemes at a rapid pace, which is tough.
He got it. He plays two or three different positions. One snap he's a Y, one snap he's an F, one snap he's a Z. So in order to do all that, you have to have a heck of an IBM up here. So he's done that.
Again, he's part of that sophomore class year. They've designated themselves the Super 6, which I don't know about that. But that's a really good core group of players, and he's definitely in that mix there.
Q. I know you mentioned Paul Jones has done everything you asked of him. Mentioned he was a little hesitant with the switch to tight end. Do you think it was something that you said that helped him follow along with the switch, or do you think he knew that it was the right move for the team?
COACH O'BRIEN: I think it was a little bit of both. I'm sure he talked to his parents and they had some input on that, too. He's a young guy. I want these guys to make their own decisions, but I understand that part of it's me, part of it's their family.
Obviously it comes down to him and his willingness to do it. He's a team player. He loves the team. He loves Penn State. He just knew he wasn't going to get as much playing time at quarterback right now.
So he felt like he could help the team; I felt like he could help the team at that position; and now we got to keep getting him acclimated to that position and get him into the game more.
I would say it was more a mutual couple conversations, and he felt good about the move at the end of the day.
And a big thank you to Allentown's Morning Call transcribers, who graciously post the whole dern thing.
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