Penn State, now healthier than it’s been all season, will likely still have to defend against a banged-up Braxton Miller this Saturday.
Miller, Ohio State’s quarterback and a Heisman Trophy candidate, is still dealing with neck soreness this week after sustaining an injury against Purdue that landed him in the hospital. Miller passed all concussion tests, and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Miller would resume practicing this week.
Bill O’Brien said Penn State will not be able to completely stop Miller this Saturday, so the players need to be prepared to rebound if he pulls off a big play.
The Nittany Lions have recovered nicely after dealing with some key injuries from earlier in the season. Running back Bill Belton and defensive end Pete Massaro, who had been out several games, returned to full form Saturday at Iowa after a rejuvenating bye week.
O’Brien said true freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman is available for Saturday. Wartman was not listed on the depth chart or the injury report this week. He blocked a punt against Ohio and played against Virginia, so Wartman would need approval from the NCAA for a medical redshirt.
O’Brien said he stands by an interesting call he made Saturday when he left McGloin in the game against Iowa despite holding a large lead. He said his first priority was to secure the win, and that meant leaving McGloin on the field instead of entering injury-prevention mode and opting for true freshman quarterback Steven Bench. McGloin’s backup did not play, and McGloin stayed healthy.
O’Brien said he doesn’t expect injuries from either side to stand in the way of the intensity of the game, and he has a lot of respect for Urban Meyer and Ohio State.
He said there are players on both teams who are ready to play on Sundays.
“Having been in the NFL, I know what I'm talking about there,” O’Brien said.
Fans in the stands
O’Brien petitioned the fans — all of them — to be in their seats during warmups this Saturday.
“Our team just wants them to show up early and be in there for warm-ups,” he said. “Our guys are jazzed up when they’re in there for warm-ups. Our guys, they love that. If we can them out of the tailgate a little bit early and into the stadium a little bit early, and get 108,000 in there for warm-ups, that’d be pretty neat.”
It was Bill O’Brien’s 43rd birthday yesterday, but he said he doesn’t really care.
“I’m not a big birthday guy,” he said. “My wife will list all of the things I really don’t enjoy. Birthdays, weddings, theme parks, the beach…I found it was my birthday when my older brother texted me. That’s when I figured it was my birthday.”