Bill O’Brien said he’s focused on the Indiana and Wisconsin games, and not anything else for the rest of the season.
The Penn State football coach dismissed several questions at his weekly press conference Tuesday that looked beyond this football season.
One reporter asked O’Brien if he’s keeping an eye on NFL job openings after this season.
“We’re 6-4,” O’Brien said. “I’m flattered you would even ask me that question.”
One of those losses came last week to Nebraska in controversial fashion. Matt Lehman fumbled a potential game-changing touchdown into the endzone for a Nebraska touchback last Saturday. Officials upheld the fumble, even though instant replay appeared to show that the ball broke the plane in Lehman’s possession.
After the game, quarterback Matt McGloin came as close to calling the play a conspiracy as he could without saying it outright.
“We’re not going to get that call here, we’re not going to get that call ever, actually,” McGloin said. “No matter who the refs are, we’ll never get that call.
“That’s just the way it is.”
O’Brien addressed McGloin’s comments Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, it’s a free country, and Matt [McGloin] can say what he wants,” O’Brien said.
In addition, O’Brien declined to elaborate on whether McGloin’s NFL stock had risen in wake of his stellar season. McGloin leads the Big Ten in passing by more than 500 yards.
Zwinak is the top RB
For the first time this season, Zach Zwinak is Penn State’s No. 1 running back, not sharing the depth chart’s top spot with Bill Belton.
Zwinak has been Penn State’s primary runner in six games this season. Not including a team sputter on the ground against Ohio State, Zwinak has built upon his single-game rushing total in the other five contests — 94 yards against Temple, 100 against Illinois, 121 against Northwestern, 134 against Purdue and 141 against Nebraska.
“We definitely had a much different team after the Blue-White game than we do today,” O’Brien said.
“He really did a nice job doing what we coached him to do. He’s a tough kid. He can run. He’s faster than a lot of guys think he is. He’s a punishing runner.”
O’Brien added that Zwinak needs to improve his ball security. The redshirt sophomore lost a key fumble in the red zone last Saturday, which the Cornhuskers turned into a field goal.
Ficken is kickin’
O’Brien said kicker Sam Ficken has improved with the proper placement of his plant foot.
Ficken’s season spiraled out of control after making only one of five field goal attempts against Virginia in the second game of the season.
Ficken has made his last six field goals, dating back to the Ohio State game Oct. 27.
“There’s a lot of credit you have to give to him, because he’s really worked at it,” O’Brien said. “When you start to kick better and better, you get more confident.”
O’Brien said tight end Kyle Carter is out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury…Safety Malcolm Willis is day-to-day with a knee injury…Running back Curtis Dukes is day-to-day with a concussion.