Last Saturday with a 20-0 lead over Navy, Penn State faced a 4th-and-goal from the eight-yard line towards in the end of the second quarter. Common sense would seem to dictate a field goal attempt here, especially considering that Penn State’s current kicker, Sam Ficken, was in apparent need of a confidence boost.
Instead of rolling out the special teams squad for a low pressure field goal attempt, O’Brien stuck with the offense and went for the touchdown. The try failed, but the important part was that O’Brien made an unorthodox decision and in doing so, he denied his struggling kicker a chip shot field goal. Here’s what he had to say about the decision:
I felt like we had a play that’s been a bread and butter play for us for a long time. We’ve thrown it for two touchdowns over the first two games against Virginia, and we had basically the same type of play against Ohio.
So it’s a play that I think has really been a bread and butter play. I went with it. We blew the protection on it. I think if we got the protection picked up we had a play there, but Matt (McGloin) had to scramble.
O’Brien went on to say that the decision to go for it had nothing to do with confidence in Ficken. I actually believe him in this instance. If O’Brien really had no confidence in Ficken, he’d be fine with him kicking a field goal in a 20-0 game. Instead, O’Brien decided to forgo the potential confidence booster and do what he felt gave his team the best chance to win.
Other might be skeptical because Ficken had missed an extra point earlier in the half and maybe O’Brien didn’t want the fans to see him miss another short try. I think we’ll have to reserve judgement for a situation in which Penn State is down by three or up by four (or in another obvious field goal situation) and faced with a fourth down in field goal range.
Derek Day is day-to-day
I would say that Day’s probably a little bit ahead of Belton as far as where they are injury wise. But they’re both, no pun intended, day-to-day. We will just continue to monitor that.
It looks like we’ll get more of the Michael Zordich and Curtis Dukes show on Saturday. Last week against Navy, Zordich and Dukes each carried the ball 11 times. O’Brien also hinted that we might see Zach Zwinak a little more this week.
Left tackle Donovan Smith is also day-to-day, and O’Brien seemed to have no clue if he was going to be able to play or not.
Kyle Carter might be the leader of a super sophomore justice squad
During the press conference, one reporter asked O’Brien to praise the play of tight end Kyle Carter, which he did. We then also got an unexpected little nugget about the Penn State sophomore class.
Again, he’s part of that sophomore class year. They’ve designated themselves the “Supa 6,” which I don’t know about that. But that’s a really good core group of players, and he’s definitely in that mix there.
Who else is in the “Supa 6”?! Here’s my best guess: Allen Robinson, Adrian Amos, Donovan Smith, Bill Belton and Deion Barnes
That’s pretty awesome that all those guys are sophomores and they are some of the team’s best players. Carter, Smith and Barnes are all actually redshirt freshmen, which means they can still play for Penn State for three more years after this one. Quarterback commit Christian Hackenberg has got to be impressed that Penn State’s two leading receivers are so young and talented.
More Paul Jones?
Considering that we had just learned last week that Paul Jones was going to start lining up at tight end, I was very surprised to see him catch one pass for seven yards against Navy. O’Brien said he would try to play Jones more this week, which is impressive considering Penn State’s depth at tight end. Of course, it’s possible that with O’Brien you can never have enough tight ends.
Penn State plays Temple at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Follow me on Twitter @apy5000 for more fun stuff.