To date, Penn State has been outscored 89-28 after halftime in each of its four losses, including 56-6 in the third quarter. O'Brien said the coaching staff would have more time after the season to dig into what they could be doing better after halftime.
"At the end of the day sometimes those adjustments work and sometimes they don't," O'Brien said. "I wouldn't make too much out of the second half thing ... but we just need to coach it and play it better."
There is at least one big adjustment to make — 6-foot-3 tight end Kyle Carter is out the rest of the year after leaving the Nebraska game with what appeared to be a right wrist injury. The redshirt freshman emerged to become a big part of O'Brien's tight end-friendly offense with 36 catches for 453 yards, both second on the team behind receiver Allen Robinson.
Carter has turned into an athletic, dangerous receiving threat between the hashes. The emergence of Carter and Robinson from relative obscurity, and O'Brien's near-flawless handling of the program in light of the sanctions, are among the reasons why O'Brien's name has been floated out on the NFL rumor mill as a potential coaching candidate.
O'Brien is in his first year as a head coach after spending five seasons as an coach for the New England Patriots, where he was offensive coordinator. Asked twice Tuesday about the NFL rumors, O'Brien insisted his focus was solely on preparing for the Hoosiers.
O'Brien's deal was extended in the offseason to cover the length of the NCAA sanctions, and he's now signed through 2020. However good a job he's done steering the program and his players through tricky times, O'Brien even seemed to acknowledge that his won-loss record may not seem too attractive to potential suitors.
"We're 6-4," he noted to a reporter. "I'm flattered that you would ask me that question."
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