August 21, 2012 at 5:21 PM
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien talked to reporters for about 15 minutes before the Nittany Lions' Tuesday practice session at the Lasch Football Building practice fields. Here are some notes from his comments:
- The coach called freshmen defensive backs Da'Quan Davis and Jordan Lucas "really good communicators," and said he believes they have a chance to contribute right away in the depleted secondary.
- O'Brien said offensive linemen Mike Farrell and Adam Gress are currently in competition for the starting right tackle spot. He called Farrell an "improved player," and said that he expects both players to see time, regardless of who ultimately wins the job.
- "You can expect [Adrian] Amos to be in any position on defense except for the defensive line," O'Brien said, signaling the sophomore defender could see time at linebacker. Amos played almost exclusively at cornerback last season and has been working out at safety in practice, too.
- On the defensive front seven: "It's a veteran group that have played a lot of football, so when you've played a lot you just have a really good understanding of football so you're very instinctive and they've done a really good job of picking up on the schemes. That's a good group. I've been around some good front sevens and that's a really good group of front seven for a college football team so we expect those guys to play well."
- "We don't always have to punt," O'Brien quipped, though he continues to look for consistency in the punting game. He said Alex Butterworth has been more consistent lately.
- O'Brien said tight end Jesse James is "a little bit ahead" of his fellow freshmen after enrolling early and participating in spring drills, though he noted James still needs to work on his blocking and adapting to the speed and strength of the college game. "He's obviously got a huge future," O'Brien said.
- The coach believes starting running back Bill Belton is prepared to handle 20-25 carries per game and make an impact in the passing game, too. "He catches the ball really well out of the backfield," O'Brien said. "That's what I really like about him. He can release into the defense and be a tough matchup for linebackers." O'Brien also said Derek Day has established himself as the No. 2 back behind Belton.
- On quarterback Paul Jones: "I think Paul's doing OK. I think Paul needs to pick it up and do better. He's a great kid. I really enjoy coaching him. He's got to play more consistent, got to make better decisions. Paul's shown flashes at times of doing pretty well and then other times of not doing so well and I think if he can just play more consistent, he'll be the player he wants to be."