Bill O'Brien hopes to move on
September, 1, 2012
By Josh Moyer | ESPN.com
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien crossed his arms while his ball cap nearly hid his eyes. The first-year head coach wasn't happy.
O'Brien hoped to silence the questions surrounding his team with a Penn State victory: Can Penn State's football team overcome nine transfers? Will this season mark the return of those three- and four-win seasons? Will the offense impress?
He answered those questions with short replies Saturday afternoon and tried to leave his seat and return to the locker room at least twice. "We lost to the better team," he said minutes after the 24-14 loss.
Players spoke in hushed tones, and offensive guard John Urschel's voice cracked. Some players looked as if they just heard a eulogy.
They talked about losing with class, moving forward and still having a good season. But it was clear this game was emotional.
"We're definitely upset," quarterback Matt McGloin said.
This wasn't the emotional statement the Nittany Lions were supposed to make, players said. McGloin said the team came in ready, Urschel said the team felt good at halftime -- but a barrage of issues bubbled up in the second half.
The secondary, long thought to be a weak link, struggled mightily against Ohio and dual threat Tyler Tettleton. The defense allowed nearly 500 yards, including 324 passing yards from Tettleton.
Historically, Penn State's strength has been defense. It wasn't on Saturday. Players didn't try to pretend otherwise. And with cornerback Stephon Morris' injury -- the severity of which is unknown -- this season could be a hard one for a unit short on depth.
"We need to execute better all around," center Matt Stankiewitch added.
Sophomore wideout Allen Robinson said he wished the Lions could have one play back. Watching from the sideline, he became upset when he watched a 43-yard touchdown strike from Tettleton on a tipped ball.
Plays like that typified Penn State's afternoon. The Nittany Lions allowed more than four passes of longer than 25 yards, failed to execute on a key fourth-and-5 play and watched Ohio make two key third-down conversions on a 93-yard touchdown drive.
Players said they'd watch tape, get over the loss and continue on. "One game doesn't make a season," Urschel said.
Penn State hoped to answer some questions Saturday and prove it's focused. Instead, it faces even more questions after a second half that saw it outscored 21-0.