Bill O’Brien took a lot of the blame for Penn State’s loss to Ohio and noted he needed to do a better job as a head coach Saturday.
On Tuesday, one of those things O’Brien — who also serves as the Nittany Lions’ offensive play caller — said he can improve on is finding more balance between run and pass plays on offense. Against the Bobcats, Penn State threw the ball 48 times, while the team had just 22 rushing attempts.
"I think we need to be more balanced. We can run the football," O’Brien said. "We’ve got a tough offensive line that…I think probably one of the units that played the best on Saturday was our offensive line, if not the unit that did play the best. We’ve got to be more balanced, and that starts with me. Hindsight being 20/20, I’d like to say we would not throw it 50 and run it 20."
The Nittany Lions were forced into throwing the ball later in the game after Ohio took the lead in the third quarter. They were also without starting running back Bill Belton for a good portion of the second half as the sophomore didn’t return to the game after leaving with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Quarterback Matt McGloin said he was unsure of what kind of run/pass ratio he would be calling in his first game in O’Brien’s offense. The fifth-year senior completed 27 of those 48 passes for 260 yards and noted a strong running game can take some pressure off the signal-caller.
"For any quarterback to be successful, [the team] has to be able to run the football," McGloin said. "I really wasn’t expecting anything going into the game. That’s just the way it turned out. … Sometimes you run it more, sometimes you throw it more than you run it. It depends on how you play the defense."
Penn State’s ground attack didn’t have a bad afternoon when it got its chances as the team averaged 4.2 yards per rush. But the team had just nine rushing attempts after halftime.
Like O’Brien, senior fullback Michael Zordich said Penn State’s play calls will likely result in more runs for the team in this Saturday’s game at Virginia.
"We ran the ball well [against Ohio]," Zordich said. "We had our plays where we didn’t really gain many yards, but we also had our plays where we went ahead and got 10-plus. Coach said he’d like to run the ball a little bit more, just to balance the offense out and keep defenses guessing on where we’re at and what our tendencies are."
It’s uncertain how much the ratio of plays will differ this week than it did last week for Penn State. McGloin said the team is just trying to keep it simple and run whatever it takes to get O’Brien his first victory.
"If we have to throw the ball, we’re going to throw the ball, but if have to run it, we’re going to run it," McGloin said. "Whatever is necessary to get a win on Saturday, we’re going to do. If that means throwing the ball 10 times, then we throw it 10 times. If we need to throw 100 times, we throw 100."