As the young season begins its adolescence, so to speak, and approaches a Week 4 matchup with visiting Temple on Saturday, it's clear that O'Brien and his players have a strong mutual respect for each other.
After the Navy game, many players expressed their happiness that they had gotten a win for their coach. On Tuesday, O'Brien spoke about the relationship.
"I really have a very strong relationship with these guys, and so does our staff. We talk all the time to these guys," O'Brien said. "They're not always like these rose-colored conversations, but they're honest conversations. I think the guys appreciate that."
Knock on wood
While being asked about the offense minimizing turnovers, O'Brien knocked his fist on his table.
He doesn't want any jinxes.
"If you don't turn the ball over and the other team turns the ball over, you have a better chance this win,'' he said. "Although we proved that theory wrong in the Virginia game, hopefully that theory holds true most of the time. We have to continue to take care of the ball. We stress it all the time. Again, it comes down to the individual player, and so far they've done a decent job of that."
Penn State's offense has only turned the ball over twice, and one was a desperate Matt McGloin interception near the end of the Ohio game. Both turnovers came in the season opener against Ohio.
Redshirts on horizon?
If he could have his druthers, O'Brien would be doling out the red shirts.
The coach said the plan is to redshirt his true freshmen who have yet to play. Of course, injuries could derail those plans, but redshirting some freshmen, like running back Akeel Lynch, could be very beneficial to Penn State, especially with the scholarships it will be losing as a result of NCAA sanctions.
"Some guys go back and forth between the [scout team] and the first- and second-team practices," O'Brien said. "That's tough on them, but this is a very strong freshman class that I think has a really bright future here."
Penn State has 30 true freshmen. One of them, Steven Bench, is the backup quarterback and played in the Virginia game, and another, wide receiver Trevor Williams, got his first career catch against Navy.
A freshman may be redshirted only if he hasn't appeared in a game or is injured before playing a specified number of games.
On Wednesday, Penn State will have its walk-on tryouts. O'Brien said he's not sure how many will show, but he's hoping for some defensive backs because of Penn State's lack of depth at the position.
Other than that, it's pretty standard.
"I just want to try to get out there and see if we can find some good football players, guys that are just hungry to play football that can move around a little bit, maybe catch the ball well," O'Brien said.
Running backs Bill Belton (ankle) and Derek Day (shoulder) remain day-to-day. Center Ty Howle (chest) has been upgraded from out to possible for the Temple game, while defensive end Pete Massaro is out with a shoulder injury. Linebacker Nyeem Wartman will be out for "a while" with a knee injury.