The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

October 9, 2013

College football: O'Brien, Penn State look toward Michigan

By Tim Owen

For The Daily Item

Immediately after Penn State's 20-point defeat on Saturday -- the program's first loss to Indiana in 17 games -- a frustrated Bill O'Brien briefly let his guard down. First he credited a talented Hoosiers squad, he placed blame upon himself and his play-calling, but then he made a rare statement.

"I don't think in any stretch of anybody's imagination that this is a normal Penn State team: 61 kids on scholarship and 40 walk-ons," he said. "(We) can't go to a bowl, we can't play for championships. It's not an excuse, but we have a lot of resilient kids here"

With a roster punished with NCAA scholarship restrictions, it is clear that Penn State is at a disadvantage to its fellow Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. But O'Brien's acknowledgement of the fact created a stir among media and fans throughout the weekend.

That might have been a one-time comment. During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, O'Brien was asked if he thinks the lack of scholarship players "is starting to catch up." The second-year head coach had no interest in revisiting the conversation.

"I'm not talking about scholarships, sanctions -- anything," he punctuated. "I'm talking about Michigan. Our team is focused on Michigan. We feel like we got off to a good start (at practice) on Monday. I'm not here to talk about scholarships, sanctions or last week's game. I'm here to talk about Michigan, and Michigan only."

The NCAA announced on Sept. 24 that it will restore Penn State's scholarship allotment to 75 for the 2014 season and to a full 85 by the 2016 season.

n Keiser questionable

When Penn State takes the Beaver Stadium field against Michigan on Saturday, it could be without Selinsgrove High graduate Ryan Keiser for the second consecutive game.

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