August 16, 2012 at 2:29 PM
Coach Bill O'Brien talked to reporters on Thursday about the team's progress so far in fall camp. Here are some highlights from his comments:
-O'Brien said he doesn't have a feel for what the strength of the offense might be this season. "I think we're still working on the identity of what the offense will be and hopefully we'll have a better grasp on that over the next week."
-On offense, O'Brien said Matt McGloin has solidified himself at quarterback and he expects Allen Robinson to start at one of the wide receiver spots. At tight end, he praised incoming freshman Brent Wilkerson, but stopped short of naming a starter. Defensively, as expected, will be Jordan Hill, Pete Massaro, Sean Stanley and DaQuan Jones on the defensive line with Mike Mauti, Glenn Carson and Gerald Hodges at linebacker. O'Brien also mentioned Ben Kline and Mike Yancich as linebackers who have had a productive fall camp.
-The coach reported no major injuries, but said some players are dealing with "bumps and bruises."
- Bill Belton has "definitely cemented himself as the starter," at running back in O'Brien's mind following Silas Redd's transfer to USC earlier this summer. O'Brien said Belton had an 80-yard touchdown run two scrimmages ago and has improved his pass protection so far in camp.
-O'Brien said OL Donovan Smith has not been practicing much while battling a hamstring issue. Mike Farrell has been practicing in his place, and O'Brien said he's having a good camp so far.
-O'Brien said kicker Sam Ficken has "done a really nice job of place kicking. His kickoffs look decent, his field goal range looks pretty decent and I've been happy with Sam." The coach said the punting situation, however, remains "up in the air," and that he's still looking for some consistency from that position.
-The coach cautioned media and fans about comparing Penn State's tight ends to the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the duo O'Brien coached in New England and called them "two of the best players in the National Football League." "We're not asking our tight ends at Penn State to be Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. We're just trying to ask them to block well and understand route technique and understand their assignments."
-O'Brien praised Emery Etter and said he will likely be Penn State's long snapper this season, but declined to name any front runners for the kick and punt returner spots.