Bill O'Brien said during Tuesday's news conference that, in his first season as a head coach, he has to focus on things like game management a lot more than when he was an offensive coordinator.
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said his focus is on the game at hand, not what happened this summer.
He's also had to learn how to do things like answering what was essentially the same question four times.
The Nittany Lions will open their Big Ten season this Saturday at Illinois, the same program that sent several coaches to State College this summer after the NCAA lifted certain transfer restrictions on Penn State players.
O'Brien was asked about the subject four different ways Tuesday, and each time resisted to take the bait, instead saying his team was focused on the game and what he called a "very good Illinois team" that, like Penn State, will enter conference play at 2-2.
Did the "recruiting trip" by Illinois coaches bother him?
"It takes a lot to bother me," O'Brien said, not really saying if those Illinois coaches' visits fell into that category or not.
O'Brien's players also had little to say on the subject.
"I don't think we need any extra motivation for this game," running back Derek Day said. "It's the first Big Ten game of the season and that's what we're focused on."
The Nittany Lions' backfield should be a little more crowded this week. O'Brien said he expects opening-day starter Bill Belton to be back in the lineup Saturday after missing three and a half games with an ankle injury. Day is also expected back from a shoulder injury and Michael Zordich, who suffered a knee injury against Temple, did not practice Monday but is also expected to be available against the Fighting Illini.
O'Brien was not asked about and did not offer updates on left tackle Donovan Smith, who hasn't played since the Virginia game with a right ankle injury but is listed as "probable" on this week's injury report. Defensive end Sean Stanley should return to the lineup after missing last week's game with a back injury; defensive end Pete Massaro is likely out again with shoulder problems. Defensive back Adrian Amos had his helmet knocked into an awkward position late in the Temple game, O'Brien said, but was not seriously injured on the play.