Penn State looks ahead, not back on its off week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Somewhere deep in Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg's mind we can assume that he'll cherish and remember his final drive Saturday night against Michigan. Same with coach Bill O'Brien. There's no way that doesn't rank as one of his all-time favorite games.

They just can't talk that way. Not right now. Not yet. For them, and presumably the rest of Penn State, this off week has been about moving on, which means thinking about Ohio State.

"Right now, I really haven't had the opportunity to sit back and think about it," Hackenberg said.

Said O'Brien: "I'd have to really probably have to wait until the end of the year because really, our staff, our players, we've moved on. We've got to start getting ready for the best team in our conference, Ohio State.

Preparing for the Buckeyes this week has meant some rest. O'Brien said he gave veterans and key players the day off Monday, aside from conditioning, because of the duration of the Michigan game. After the conditioning, the younger players scrimmaged.

As the players did after the Oct. 5 Indiana loss, Hackenberg and defensive end C.J. Olaniyan spoke Wednesday of moving on. It didn't matter that this had been an impressive victory. They want to spend the off week looking ahead, knowing what they did against Michigan only will help.

"Every win is good, but a win like that is going to help improve our confidence and keep us rolling," Olaniyan said.

Akeel Lynch's role

Running back Akeel Lynch, who has averaged a team-best 7.7 yards per carry this season, did not have any carries in Penn State's victory against Michigan. O'Brien said he had plans to use all three running backs but decided to focus on using Bill Belton once he started having success.

"That's my decision," O'Brien said. "It's not a reflection on Akeel Lynch. We think the world of Akeel Lynch, and we'll continue to work him into the lineup."

Future schedule

The Big Ten released the 2018 and 2019 schedules for conference games. Penn State's home slate for 2018 contains games against Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Maryland. It will play on the road against Illinois, Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan.

The 2019 season features home games against Purdue, Michigan, Indiana and Rutgers. Road games are Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State.

Censorship or not

Last week reported that on O'Brien's weekly radio show fans were told not to ask any questions about the Indiana loss. This followed a Tuesday news conference with the media in which he was touchy about Indiana questions and said he wouldn't talk about the game anymore.

But this Tuesday O'Brien said he never told anyone to censor fans from asking any question.

"Whether that happened or not, it didn't happen when I was there," he said. "And I will tell you, any question anybody wants to ask me they can ask me. ... I'm not in charge of my radio show, but, if that did happen, I'll make sure it doesn't happen again. My thoughts on those things, it's a free country."


Mark Dent:, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05. First Published October 16, 2013 7:34 PM


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