Penn State notebook: O'Brien has variety in store for WR Robinson


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Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson has to be different this year. That goes without question. When defenses are geared to stop you -- as they will be for last season's Big Ten leader in receiving yards and receptions per game -- you must change.

A plan is in place, though, and it starts with variety. Robinson will likely have a much more diverse role in the offense, coach Bill O'Brien said.

Last year, Robinson was primarily used as the "X" receiver, the one who lines up the farthest away from the line, also known as the split end. This year, O'Brien said Robinson will move around a "ton" -- to spots such as the slot or the flanker, the receiver closer to the line.

And who knows where else? This is O'Brien's offense, which last year featured unorthodox formations and led to as much output from tight ends as any team in Division I.

O'Brien said he expects those tight ends to be legitimate receiving threats again this year, deflecting coverage away from Robinson. As for Robinson, O'Brien has seen improvement from him so far in practice.

"He's worked on just having better knowledge of the offense," O'Brien said. "He's worked on his own skill set. He's faster, he's stronger, he's really worked hard this summer to come back in tip-top condition."

Breneman should play

O'Brien said true freshman tight end Adam Breneman will likely play this year. Breneman, considered one of the best high school tight ends in the nation last year, missed his senior season at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Pa., and enrolled at Penn State in January.

"He's a smart kid, tough player, has good hands, and he can run," O'Brien said. "He'll be playing."

Quarterback update

The wait for a starting quarterback to be named between Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg continues, but the announcement should come soon.

"I'm pretty close," O'Brien said. "I don't know if I have an exact day yet."

His opinions on the competition have not changed much, with O'Brien saying it was "very even." O'Brien also said he wants to make sure whoever is named the No. 2 quarterback will be ready to play in case of injuries. He said he thinks either one could step in.

"One thing that has been apparent to me is we don't need to hold back too much with Christian or with Tyler," O'Brien said. "They study and they've come back one day to the next. They do a great job on our walk-throughs and they are really fun to coach, so we don't hold a lot back."

Belton makes it

Running back Bill Belton missed some summer workouts because he needed to focus on his academics, but O'Brien said Belton will be eligible for the season.

Belton will compete for playing time with starter Zach Zwinak and Akeel Lynch. He might also contribute as a kick or punt returner.

Belton began last season as the primary running back but injuries derailed him. He finished 2012 with 263 rushing yards on 60 carries.

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05 First Published August 16, 2013 4:00 AM


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