Penn State to focus on special teams during bye week

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Nittany Lions and Coach Bill O'Brien will look to improve its special teams during their bye week.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien plans to put his team's bye week to good use by spending time on special teams this week, he said on Tuesday.

Coach O'Brien: "We're going to really spend a lot of time on special teams. We started that yesterday and we'll continue that today. I do agree that areas of special teams have struggled, but really it's the specialists that have struggled. The kickers, punters, and snapper have all struggled at times. I think overall there has been some really good things on our kickoff team. I would say our punt return team has been decent. I think our kickoff return team is pretty close to doing something pretty good. I think we have to be careful when we say that our special teams haven't played well. I think our specialists need to play better, but overall our kids on special teams have done good things."

Penn State (4-2) allowed a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown to Northwestern's Venric Mark in the third quarter of last week's game. The score gave Northwestern an 11-point lead in the final two minutes of the third, but the Nittany Lions scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win, 39-28.

O'Brien also updated the injury status of running back Bill Belton:

"I think that probably Billy's not 100 percent. I think that was a significant ankle injury that he had against Ohio. I think that was a high ankle injury. So he was out and he hadn't played running back, we moved him there in the spring. It's a new offense and now he's out for a few weeks. He comes back and now he's trying to get back in the groove of things. Billy's a good football player and, this week, starting yesterday, he's practiced hard. I do think this bye week will help him heal, but also get back into the rhythm of the offense."

Penn State, which has won four in a row after losing its first two games of the season, is back in action Oct. 20 at Iowa.

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