Bill O’Brien gave updates on Penn State’s injured players Tuesday at his weekly press conference.
True freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman isn’t going to be back for a while, O’Brien said. Wartman is no longer eligible to redshirt this season. His biggest contributions have come on special teams, where he blocked a punt and returned another for seven yards against Ohio.
O’Brien also said that Bill Belton and Derek Day remain day-to-day, and he won’t know more about their health until later in the week. The depth chart confirms either they or running back Curtis Dukes will get the start against Temple. Fullback Michael Zordich added he has also lobbied for O’Brien to continue handing him the ball.
Defensive end Pete Massaro, who has been struggling with shoulder and knee injuries, will not play Saturday.
Penn State currently has a 22-game winning streak against Temple, not including the Nittany Lions’ vacated wins from 1997-2011.
However, O’Brien said he doesn’t care about winning streaks.
“I don't know what they were like in 1940, but in 2012 they are a very good football team,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he has much respect for Temple head coach Steve Addazio, whom he met when Addazio was a coach at Syracuse.
“He'll probably be mad at me for saying this, but he's a little bit older than me, so I was a young coach and met him at that time,” O’Brien said.
He said the team is approaching this game as they would any other game, despite their win this past Saturday and Penn State’s winning streak against the Owls.
“I would assume our players will come out with a lot of intensity,” O’Brien said. “We only got two more months to play.”
“On November whatever, the season is over.”
O’Brien said he doesn’t mind that the passing game’s production hasn’t spread out evenly. Wide receiver Allen Robinson has caught the bulk of quarterback Matt McGloin’s passes.
O’Brien added that he’s been working personally with the quarterbacks everyday except Sunday — their day off.
“We just take what the defense gives us,” O’Brien said. “We throw to the open guy, we throw to the one-on-one guy, and hopefully we can continue to do that and these guys will continue to work hard and improve.”
O’Brien said that he’s been happy with how the special teams — outside of field goals and punting — has panned out, notably his coverage and return units. Players including Michael Mauti, Mike Hull and Michael Yancich have been standouts in the Lions’ battle for field position.
O’Brien said that the coaching staff needs to make better calls when Penn State has the ball in the redzone.
“There is always room for improvement with the play calling,” he said. “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.”
O’Brien said walk-on tryouts start Wednesday, and he’s keeping an eye out for some good defensive backs.
“Not sure how many guys will show up,” O’Brien said. “But I believe — males or females, I'm not sure how many will show up. We'll see after practice tomorrow.
“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.”