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Concern, not panic, as PSU hopes to bounce back

Associated Press Modified: September 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm •  Published: September 4, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — After everything the Penn State Nittany Lions have already been through this year, one loss isn't going to cause panic.

Concern? Well, maybe.

Coach Bill O'Brien's crew took a day or so to sulk about the season-opening, 24-14 loss last week to Ohio before it shifted focus over to Virginia and the season's first road trip this weekend.

"I don't know if you've noticed, but with us, the whole adversity thing brings us together," fullback Michael Zordich said Tuesday.

The Nittany Lions were hurting Saturday night. The loss still stung during the off day Sunday.

By Monday, it was time to shake it off.

"Yesterday came along and Coach O'Brien said 'It was one game,'" safety Malcolm Willis said. "We've got to watch film and learn from our mistakes."

Putting together two consistent halves of football would be a start.

Penn State was outgained 301-115 in total yards and 15-8 in first downs in the second half. The Bobcats came up clutch by going 11 of 12 on third-down conversions in the third and fourth quarters.

Three-step drops by Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton neutralized Penn State's strength — its front seven — down the stretch. The Bobcats' 88 offensive plays were 18 more than Penn State's.

Willis and defensive tackle Jordan Hill said the Nittany Lions weren't able to build on the day's emotional lift after halftime, when they were outscored 21-0. With so much working in the first half, Hill said the defense didn't make many halftime adjustments.

O'Brien credited Ohio before boiling Penn State's issues down to simpler factors.

"Obviously I have a lot of respect for our players and their opinions," he said. "At the end of the day, we've got to go out there and execute better, coach better. ... Again, I think it's football, it was an emotional day, but it came down to turnovers, third-down conversions, and that's what it usually comes down to in close games.

"Hopefully we'll improve on that this week."

O'Brien saw bright spots in the loss. A Nittany Lions offensive line seen as a concern headed into the season didn't allow a sack. An offense with new or inexperienced players at most of the skill positions moved the ball well especially in the first half.

Sustaining longer drives to keep the defense off the field might be emphasized this week. Penn State had more than twice as many pass attempts than running plays last week (48-22), and O'Brien would like a little more balance next week.

Defensively, O'Brien liked the effort put forth by his defense, and his front seven contained the run up the middle.

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