UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--This is the reactionary phase for Penn State. It is the time when the loss to Indiana can linger and drown Penn State into the wild, underwater territory of sub-.500, or when the characteristics of focus, hard work and resiliency coach Bill O'Brien claims his team has can steer them in the proper direction.
For now, mystery prevails. The offensive line couldn't block well for the running backs, the defense couldn't hold together late in the game and a sky-is-falling mentality pervades social media and message boards -- the exact kind one would expect after a blowout loss to Indiana.
For O'Brien, that loss has turned into a forbidden subject. He spent his Tuesday news conference refusing to discuss specifics about the game, providing one-sentence answers to many questions and invoking a general mood of displeasure. He ended most of his responses with: "We're focused on Michigan."
Game: Penn State (3-2, 0-1) vs. Michigan (5-0, 1-0).
When: 5 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
"The team's confidence isn't shaken," O'Brien said.
The Nittany Lions could look a little different, though, as they move forward. O'Brien said more players will play this week than in previous weeks, so long as they excelled in practice.
That's one way to react -- to plot for change. O'Brien acknowledged the next game is different. This is Michigan. The No. 18 Wolverines (5-0) are somewhat rivals, a classic Big Ten opponent who is invading on homecoming weekend for a game that has already sold out, promising a nighttime of atmosphere filled with noise and white.
By late Saturday, players said they had already moved onto this game. The question is, can they actually do it -- fully release themselves from the anguish and doubt brought on by the Indiana loss?
The word O'Brien has often used describe his team is resiliency. Pressed about where the trait came from and if Penn State needed to capture the most of it at this juncture of the season, he didn't answer.
"I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist or anything," O'Brien said.
Linebacker Glenn Carson said the attitude stems from the past, from the belief Penn State searches for a certain type of player and that these players endured the NCAA's sanctions last year. He believes they've reacted to adversity well, and that they can do so again.
"We have a bend, don't-break kind of mentality," Carson said. "And we just continue to push through."
NOTES -- Safety Ryan Keiser's status is up in the air for Saturday. He missed the Indiana game and O'Brien said the team would likely know more about his status by the end of practice today. ... Wide receiver Allen Robinson, who hurt his back Saturday, is ready for game action, as is receiver Brandon Felder, who missed the game Saturday.
Mark Dent: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05. First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM