When he finally was able to start coaching again, Bill O'Brien gathered his new charges on offense in the film room. Armed with hours of video from his previous job with the Patriots, the new Penn State coach went to work.
Showing off the schemes that would become the Nittany Lions' own, O'Brien started teaching. Not long into the session, however, he had to bring it to a stop.
"I looked back at the team and I saw a lot of wide eyes," O'Brien said. "Because they were watching that film as fans."
Off went the projector.
"Look, guys," O'Brien told the squad. "We're looking at the schemes here. Don't worry that that's Tom Brady and don't worry that that's Wes Welker and Gronkowski and the other guys."
That's when the Lions started making some progress.
O'Brien and his players have kept their lips sealed about many of the details, but there's little doubt that the offense will be dramatically different in this new era of Penn State football.
But it's going to take some time.
"We aren't the Patriots," guard John Urschel said. "We aren't that. But I feel we can be successful in that offense."
Just how much of New England's scheme will make its way to Happy Valley remains to be seen. Some recent developments – like an emphasis on the tight ends in the passing game – will be ported over.
The Lions obviously don't have the personnel to run everything the way the Patriots do.
"But what we're trying to do there is put in the foundation of what we did in New England," O'Brien said. "Of course, when you have Tom Brady, who is the best quarterback in the NFL, a future Hall of Famer, the thing that people have to understand is that he's been in that offense for 12 years. He would tell you the same thing – that offense has evolved as he's evolved."
The entire offensive coaching staff from the old regime is gone. Charlie Fisher, Stan Hixon, Charles London, Mac McWhorter and John Strollo replace Dick Anderson, Galen Hall, Bill Kenney, Mike McQueary and Jay Paterno.
More than just the faces, however, the division of labor has changed significantly.
Penn State's former playcalling system was a convoluted one where Hall and Paterno would share the load up in the coaches booth, relaying calls to McQueary on the sideline before being signaled into the huddle. With the occasional change-up from Joe Paterno himself.
This year it will be O'Brien running the show himself from the sideline after serving as the play-caller for New England's prolific attack. London and Strollo are expected to be upstairs, with Fisher, Hixon and McWhorter joining O'Brien on the field.
At quarterback, Matt McGloin will have more freedom to call audibles and change the play at the line, something that rarely – if ever – was permitted in the past few years.
"Obviously the things the Patriots have done in the past, you're aware of," McGloin said. "They're not like any other team you see. They rely so much on the quarterback to get the team in the right play. Coach O'Brien puts a lot of trust in the quarterback.
"I'm not going to sit here and say what our offense is like, but the quarterback does have the ability to get into right plays. We don't want to run a bad play ever."