O'Brien meets his Penn State team
Penn State's new football coach Bill O'Brien is introduced with his son, Michael, 6, and wife, Colleen, during the first half of the Nittany Lions basketball game Sunday against Indiana.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- New Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien met with his team Sunday for the first time and two of last season's offensive mainstays were enthusiastic following the session.
Redshirt junior quarterback Matt McGloin and sophomore tailback Silas Redd said they liked what they heard about the offense O'Brien plans to install with the Nittany Lions. He also will call the plays.
"We're going to do a lot of things differently on offense and I can't wait to be part of it," McGloin said.
"I am excited," said Redd, who led Penn State in rushing last season. "He broke down each position on the offensive side of the ball and gave us all the information we needed. The offense is going to be completely different."
The meeting at the Lasch Football Building lasted 45 minutes, and O'Brien joked with an unidentified player who wore a No. 7 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers jersey to the meeting.
Afterward, O'Brien left to rejoin the New England Patriots, where he will continue to serve as their offensive coordinator through the NFL playoffs.
O'Brien, who has directed a Tom Brady-led Patriots offense that scored an AFC-best 513 points this season, will work closely with all of Penn State's quarterbacks -- McGloin, sophomore Rob Bolden, redshirt freshman Paul Jones, from Sto-Rox High School, and redshirt junior walk-on Shane McGregor.
"Offensively, we will be a game plan offense," O'Brien said Saturday at his introductory news conference. "The offensive philosophy will be to find out what our players do best, and we'll get going on that as soon as we can, by film evaluation and getting to know our players, and put them in position to take advantage of these strengths."
O'Brien inherits a defense that finished No. 20 overall in the country.
"Defensively, we will continue the great tradition of defenses that have gone before us here," he said. "It will be a multiple defense. It will be a defense that's creative, and it will be a defense that creates multiple looks for the offense."
On Sunday, two players confirmed that linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden has been retained from the previous coaching staff. On Saturday, O'Brien announced he was keeping defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
Vanderlinden and Johnson, both good recruiters, served as co-defensive coordinators the final four games after coach Joe Paterno was fired Nov. 9. Former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley served as interim head coach for the rest of the season.
Junior defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who decided to return for his final season rather than enter the NFL draft, said it will be nice to have two familiar faces back on the coaching staff.
"That's a big thing, just having two familiar people on the coaching staff," Hill said. "That will help tremendously. There's going to be stuff that's going to be different, but we have those two guys who are going to be there to help us get through everything."
Also on Sunday, Charles London, an assistant/quality control coach in his first season with the NFL's Tennessee Titans, was hired as Penn State's new running backs coach. He is the third assistant on the new staff. O'Brien said he hopes to have seven in place by Wednesday.
London, a former Duke player, was a graduate assistant for the Blue Devils in 2004-05 and was named running backs coach in '06, when O'Brien served as the offensive coordinator.
Former Penn State linebacker Sean Lee, an Upper St. Clair native playing for the Dallas Cowboys, offered his support for O'Brien on Saturday.
"Many former Penn State players, including myself, had hoped an assistant coach from the prior staff would be appointed as the next head coach because we felt it would help preserve the tradition built by coach Paterno," Lee said in a statement released by the Cowboys. "The university has chosen to move in a different direction by hiring coach O'Brien ... we need to consider him a Penn Stater."
First Published January 9, 2012 12:00 am