Bill O’Brien on Iowa game
Bill O’Brien’s Teleconference Monday, October 16
Q. How close are you with Brian Ferentz, and is there anything you have to change up this week for the game because he’s on the sideline?
BILL O’BRIEN: You know, I’m close with Brian. Any time you work with someone 24/7 six months out of the year for four years and you go to a Super Bowl with a guy and you have a lot of respect for his football knowledge and all those things, yeah, there’s no question that that’s a great friendship there. I obviously have a lot of respect for his dad and what he’s done at the University of Iowa. As far as changing things up, we’re just going to stick with our game plan and take what Iowa gives us defensively. It’s a very, very tough defense, and we just need to try to do the best we can.
Q. In recent history for Penn State it’s been difficult to play at Iowa. How do you approach places that are difficult to play at on the road?
BILL O’BRIEN: Well, it is; it’s a very difficult place to play, as are most of the places in the Big Ten. It’s going to be an electric atmosphere. The crowd noise is definitely going to be a factor, so we’ve got to make sure that we deal with that in the right way. We’ve got to practice with crowd noise and make sure that our players do a great job of communicating offense, defense, special teams. But again, it’s not going to be anything like what it’s like on Saturday night, so hopefully we can just give them a picture of it, and then when they get there Saturday night, they have a better understanding of how to deal with those things. But it’s a very tough environment, and they’re playing well right now. It’s a very tough football team. It’s not going to be easy.
Q. Iowa running back Mark Weisman got a little banged up at the end of the Michigan State game. He might not be able to go or be limited this weekend. Does that alter your defensive game plan?
BILL O’BRIEN: Again, let me just say about Weisman, he’s a very tough, big back that they’ve done an excellent job with. They’ve blocked well for him, and he’s broken tackles, and he’s having a heck of a year. And then whoever they bring in next, whether it’s the young guy there ‑ that’s another guy that’s a good player ‑ it doesn’t alter our game plan. We just have to go in there and we have to play against the guys that line up against us.
Q. A lot of these games with Iowa have been low scoring, real physical. Is this going to be the biggest physical challenge that you guys have had so far?
BILL O’BRIEN: It’s a big challenge, no question about it. This is a physical team. They play a very tough brand of football. I believe we play a tough brand of football. So I think it’s two very, very evenly matched teams. Like the old saying goes, you are what your record is and says you are, and we’re both 4-2, so to me it’s two evenly matched teams that are going to really fight it out physically to see who can win the game. I think you’ve also got an Iowa team there that’s very, very well‑coached. They know what they want to do. They do it well. The techniques are good. They’re a smart team. They don’t make a lot of mistakes, if any, and hopefully our team can show that the same way on Saturday night, and it should be a heck of a college football game.
Q. Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in this conference. You’re a first‑year coach. Does it say something about college football that a guy that’s only been around 13, 14 years would be the longest tenured coach in a conference and how difficult it is to keep a job of this magnitude?
BILL O’BRIEN: Yeah. I’ll tell you what, first of all, it’s a ton of credit to Coach Ferentz. I’ve gotten to know him because of my relationship with Brian a little bit, and I’ve even ‑‑ I went out to Iowa when I was in New England, I worked out Ricky Stanzi, and so I watched firsthand what he did out there in spring practice, and just does an excellent job of teaching fundamental, physical football, smart football. And I think it is a statement a little bit. I think obviously I’m a coach, I’m biased, I think there’s a ton of great coaches in the country. Everybody has got their own style, and I respect that, and I think all the coaches deserve time. When you’re a new coach, it’s important that you’re given time. It’s important that you’re given time to put your own direction on the program. So Kirk has done a really good job of that at Iowa, and obviously he’s stayed. But again, like you said, 14 years, in my opinion he should be at Iowa for however long he wants to be there. He’s done a great job there, and he deserves to be there for a long time.
Q. As far as this game being at night, Allen Robinson had said maybe earlier on this season you guys had a couple practices at night. Is there any sort of atmosphere you have to get ready for a night game?
BILL O’BRIEN: Sure, that’s a good question. It’s hard to practice at night here at Penn State because of the class schedules and the tutoring and the study halls and everything that takes place, so we won’t be able to practice at night, but what we can do is maybe go out there a little bit later so when the sun is going down, put the lights on so maybe we’re fielding some punts in some lights or catching some long balls in some lights, things like that, and then obviously the crowd noise. We’ve got to pipe crowd noise into practice because it’s an extremely loud place. Our players are only going to be able to communicate with each other through verbal communication and through signaling. So we’ve got to do a great job of that. That’s a big part of practice this week, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
Q. Stephon Morris said on Twitter last night, “we hate them, they hate us,” in regards to Iowa. Do you sense any ‑‑ talking to players, do you sense any type of extra ‑‑
BILL O’BRIEN: Do you know what I hate? I hate Twitter. I think these guys are young guys, and I think “Tweet this, Spacebook that.” Whatever. We’ve got to go play the game. We don’t have any hatred for Iowa. We respect Iowa. We have a tremendous amount of respect for their football program and for how they play the game, for how they’re coached, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for their coaching staff and their players and the longevity of Coach Ferentz at Iowa and the amount of wins ‑‑ he had his 100th win last week. Just done a great job there. So there’s a lot of respect there. I think that’s just young guys Tweeting this, twitting that, and that’s how it works, I guess.