Last updated: February 19. 2013 5:25PM - 178 Views

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After five years in the NFL, Bill O'Brien had almost forgotten about the longer college halftimes.

It took me awhile to get used to that, the Penn State coach said. In the NFL it's bang-bang-bang. There are no bands. When you're playing the Jets, there are no bands.

It's not the extra few minutes in the locker room that has been an issue for the Nittany Lions, but what happens after coming back out.

Penn State is the most successful first-quarter team in the country and one of the best in the first half, outscoring opponents 83-6 in the opening 15 minutes and 157-39 over the first 30.

That number plunges to an 80-55 deficit in the third quarter alone. In their four losses this season, Penn State has been outscored in the second half 89-28.

It's the same mood, same intensity, junior guard John Urschel said after Saturday's loss to Nebraska, in which the Huskers rallied with a 26-3 showing in the second half.

We try to go out and finish games. It's just something we need to go back and look at and see where things went awry.

We just need to do a little better job maintaining our focus in the third quarter, senior tackle Mike Farrell said. But by no means do I feel like we've come out flat after halftime.

O'Brien, likewise, downplayed the team's second-half swoons this year.

It's about a 20-minute halftime, and that's what we try to do – we make adjustments, O'Brien said. At the end of the day, sometimes those adjustments work and sometimes they don't. It's a bunch of good kids and good coaches trying to do the right thing.

I wouldn't make too much out of the second-half thing. I know that's what maybe you guys are driving at, but we just need to coach it and play it better.

The Lions have led at halftime in three of their losses – 14-3 over Ohio, 7-3 over Virginia, 20-6 over Nebraska – and were tied 7-7 with Ohio State in the other.

Regardless of any numbers, O'Brien said it's not a specific concern for the final two games of the season against Indiana and Wisconsin.

In the offseason we're going to dive into this thing and scout ourselves and see if we can improve, O'Brien said.

But over the next two weeks we need to make sure we do a better job of coming out after halftime.

National honor for McGloin

The story of Matt McGloin's rise from walk-on to one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Penn State history has been well-documented. Now the Scranton native has a chance to have the story engraved.

McGloin is one of 50 candidates for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is presented to the nation's outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on. The award is relatively new, having been first awarded in 2010.

The senior is likely to finish his career as the Lions' second all-time leading passer as well as the single-season yardage record holder.

Willis held out

Starting safety Malcolm Willis did not work with the team in the opening session of practice Wednesday made available to media, according to reporters in State College.

Willis injured his left knee in the second half against Nebraska and did not return. Jake Fagnano and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong played most of the snaps at the two safety spots following his exit.

If Willis can't play Saturday against the Hoosiers, Ryan Keiser and cornerback Jesse Della Valle are also options to see time at safety. Corner Adrian Amos has also played some safety this year.

I don't feel like we're too worried about it, said Obeng-Agyapong, who is nursing a shoulder injury that could require offseason surgery. Jake has gotten a lot of reps this season.

Me, Malcolm and Jake have pretty much been starting every game.



at Penn State

TV: Noon, Saturday, BTN

Where: Beaver Stadium

Last Meeting: PSU won 16-10 on Oct. 1, 2011 (vacated)

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