The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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September 11, 2012

Penn State notebook: Coach not pleased with response to kicker's trouble

By Tim Owen

For The Daily Item

UNIVERSITY PARK -- After his 1-for-5 field goal performance in the loss against Virginia, a variety of threatening comments were directed toward sophomore kicker Sam Ficken on social media websites Facebook and Twitter. Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien took special exception to those messages.

"To go on space book or tweeter, or whatever it is, and put stuff on there is just absolutely ridiculous to me and very cowardly, to be honest with you," O'Brien said. "But that's just my opinion."

UP NEXT: Since the Virginia loss, O'Brien has stood by his kicker, saying "the kicking job is open every week and Sam's won the job every week."

More participants could join the weekly competition, though, as kicking tryouts are scheduled for Sept. 19. The tryouts have been scheduled since the summer and are not in response to the recent struggles in the kicking game.

Danville graduate Dylan Friday said he expects to tryout next Wednesday. Friday, a freshman at Penn State, played soccer for Danville, but he also kicked for the football team, kicking five field goals, including a career-best 42-yarder. He also booted a pair of 41-yarders in the District Four All-Star Game this summer.

SLOW START: O'Brien hadn't envisioned his head coaching career beginning like this: with two straight losses, a shallow roster holed from off-season transfers, mounting injuries and a scoring-deficient special teams unit.

But as O'Brien sat at the podium in the Beaver Stadium press room Tuesday afternoon — just over two weeks into his first season as Penn State's head coach — that's exactly the hand that he had been dealt.

After falling to Ohio in the season-opener, the Nittany Lions lost on the road to Virginia last Saturday. In both games combined Penn State allowed 18 of 21 third-down conversions in the second half and a score differential of 35-9 in the last two quarters.

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