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Penn State to focus on special teams during bye week

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

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

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.