When asked about it this summer, nearly every Penn State player on offense said the new playbook was noticeably thicker.
Garry Gilliam actually went and weighed the thing.
‚??Just our summer camp playbook weighed five pounds itself,‚?Ě the junior tight end said. ‚??And that‚??s just summer. No spring stuff or anything. It‚??s a lot more complex and things change within plays. The playcalling is more complex, too.‚?Ě
Naturally, the Nittany Lions aren‚??t about to go into detail about what makes up those five pounds.
The playbook will make its debut on Saturday against Ohio. But it could look radically different a week later down at Virginia.
Bill O‚??Brien has repeatedly referred to the scheme as a ‚??gameplan‚?Ě offense, one that is flexible enough to morph from game-to-game to best suit the opponent.
The trick for the Lions‚?? new coach is to make sure his players are comfortable enough to pull it off.
So far, so good.
‚??I feel good about the offense,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??I think we‚??ll be a multiple personnel offense. We‚??ll be in different personnel groupings throughout the day. I feel good about Matt McGloin and his ability to run the operation. I think these guys have really grasped what we‚??re trying to do.
‚??I don‚??t think it‚??s a real intricate gameplan. It‚??s just a gameplan where we want these guys to go out and be able to play fast, play at a good tempo and try to find some balance.
‚??But we‚??ve got to (adapt) as the game progresses. We‚??ve got to do what‚??s necessary to win the football game. So if we have to throw it 60 times, we‚??re going to throw it 60 times. If we have to run it 60 times, we‚??re going to run it 60 times.‚?Ě
Against the Bobcats on Saturday, the Lions figure to strike a balance between those two extremes.
On one hand, the Lions have a significant size advantage up front, which could lead to some open lanes for Bill Belton and the team‚??s new stable of backs.
On the other, it has been a rough few weeks for the Ohio secondary, which recently lost its best player ‚?? cornerback Travis Carrie ‚?? for the season because of shoulder surgery. A senior safety, Gerald Moore, has also been banged up and another potential starter in Xavier Hughes was demoted to the scout team last week for disciplinary reasons.
Either way, much of the responsibility will rest with McGloin, who will have far more freedom under O‚??Brien to audible and check out of plays at the line.
‚??The exciting part of this offense is that the quarterback has a lot of control out there,‚?Ě McGloin said. ‚??You have to be able to change from a bad play into a good play. We don‚??t want to waste plays, we don‚??t want to run any bad plays. Coach O‚??Brien puts a lot of faith, a lot of trust into the quarterbacks. So the most difficult challenge is to figure out what play is best on that down and against that defense.
‚??I like where we‚??re at. Hopefully we‚??ll show you guys how far we‚??ve come on Saturday.‚?Ě
Also under wraps for the opener are the identities of Penn State‚??s primary punt and kick returners.
On Tuesday, O‚??Brien said he typically makes that decision late in the week, sometimes not until game day.
Coming out of spring practice, sophomore defensive back Adrian Amos ‚?? described by teammates as one of the top athletes on the roster ‚?? was a favorite to see time at both spots.
When asked Wednesday if he expected to be returning punts and kicks on Saturday, he said that, yes, he did. He proceeded to clam up, however, when asked if he would be on both return teams.
‚??We‚??ll see on Saturday,‚?Ě he said.
O‚??Brien has also mentioned sophomore wideout Alex Kenney as a candidate to return kicks and punts.
Ohio University vs. Penn State
TV: Noon, Saturday, ESPN
Series: PSU leads 5-0.
Last meeting: Penn State defeated Ohio 35-16 on Nov. 16, 1974 at Beaver Stadium