Penn State (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten) has played host to announced crowds of 97,186; 98,729; and 93,680 in its three home games this season against Ohio, Navy and Temple, respectively, but those crowds were mostly slow to fill in. The only one of those games that was a noon kickoff was Ohio, as Navy and Temple began at 3:30.
Noticeable gaps of seats in the stadium, which holds over 106,000, have been in the student section as all three of the home games have kicked off.
But for the Nittany Lions' contest with the Wildcats (5-0, 1-0), O'Brien wants his support group there on time, no matter how they look.
"Whether it's a whiteout, this-out, that-out, I don't know, I just need them in the stands going nuts for this football team, because we gotta have a good home-field advantage and these guys feed off of that," O'Brien said.
More relatively good news for Penn State appears on the injury report this week. Only three players are on it - defensive end Pete Massaro (possible, shoulder), linebacker Nyeem Wartman (out, knee) and guard Mark Arcidiacono (out, foot). Bill O'Brien said Massaro should be good to go on Saturday unless something happens during the week in practice.
Sam Ficken has continued his to struggle with kicking field goals in the Illinois game. Ficken missed a 47-yard attempt and had an 18-yarder blocked. The sophomore, who is 2-for-8 on the year, did make one field goal, but had it nullified by a penalty.
To Bill O'Brien, more than just the kick went wrong on Ficken's blocked field goal.
"When we're kicking inside the 10-yard line, we put our tackle over, because of the angle of the kick when it's on a hash," O'Brien said. "They blocked it from the long side. So you're talking about something that really made me not very happy. We've worked on it already and we will continue to work on it but like I always tell you, we've got to coach it better and execute it better. But we can't let that happen."
O'Brien also touched on his recruiting strategy for place kickers and punters, saying it would be ideal to get a guy that could do both. He also said he's very well aware of how Penn State's scholarship limitations could factor in.
Running back Zach Zwinak, the redshirt sophomore "downhill runner" who came out of nowhere to become a prominent part of Penn State's ground attack this season, was due for some praise from his coach Tuesday.
"He's a physical, downhill guy who likes to press the line of scrimmage," Bill O'Brien said. "There are certain runs that he's good at, and there's other runs that maybe he's not as good at, but what makes you a downhill runner is you understand the intent of the blocking scheme we're running."
Zwinak gained a career-high 100 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns against Illinois. Starter Bill Belton had 65 yards on 16 carries. Zwinak has gained a team-leading 196 rushing yards this season.
Contact Tim Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org