Penn State Football: WR Brown Says Past Playbook Was Simple, But New One is More Creative
Penn State senior wide receiver Justin Brown said Thursday he feels like a freshman again, having to adjust to a brand new playbook and a new coaching staff.
But Brown doesn't feel any added pressure as the wideout tabbed to replace Derek Moye and called the pro-style offense brought in by first-year coach Bill O'Brien exciting.
"It’s a new offense, and whenever you go from one system to another, it's going to seem like a lot," Brown said during a conference call. "It’s a lot more stuff than what we did, because the past playbook was a little more simple, but this one is a lot more creative."
Though the new playbook promises to be exciting, it's still unclear who will be engineering the new system under center, and will be for some time, as O'Brien said during his spring practice press conference that he may not make a decision on the starting quarterback until the Friday before the Sept. 1 opener against Ohio. With that in mind, Brown shed no light as to who, if anyone, is taking the lead in practice.
"The QBs are all looking good," Brown said. "They are all looking good and competing, and Coach O'Brien is teaching them all the same thing and giving them the same number of reps."
Citing not wanting to get in trouble, Brown didn't elaborate much about what exactly the new playbook involves in terms of getting creative, but he said: "There are different things you can do out of it, and ways you can get receivers the ball, and it's going to be exciting and fun to go out there and run the plays. You'll see real soon."
While Brown didn't elaborate much, safety Malcolm Willis did during his teleconference, saying one of the biggest differences he's noticed is the skill players being able to get into space.
"There's a lot more things happening with guys like Devon Smith and Alex Kenney where they are getting the ball in space and can take a four- or five-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown and be athletes," Wilis said. "That's the big difference from the past."
On a final playbook note, Brown said the no-huddle offense O'Brien has implemented is one of the key factors in the new offense, and "is definitely going to help us out this year."
Brown also noted how relationships with the new staff are being built every day.
"I like [wide receiver] Coach [Stan] Hixon, he's a good wide receivers coach that knows a lot about the game and has been around it for a long time," he said. "A guy like that who has been at the college and NFL level can do a lot, and I've just been trying to take the constructive criticism in."
Brown also referred to the strength and conditioning staff as "high energy, high intensity" and noted the coaching staff is stressing fundamentals and the basic formations, and that "once we do that, we can see what all the formations and packages can do."
O'Brien said at his spring news conference that the job of the wide receivers is to get open and catch the ball, and mentioned blocking as if it was a brief afterthought.
However, Brown said that isn't exactly the case now that practice is in full swing.
"There is more of an emphasis on blocking," Brown said. "Coach wants the wide receivers to be real physical and already emphasized how important that is in the running game, and we've been doing live blocking drills with the defensive backs every day in practice."
Devon Smith Out
At practice Wednesday, Smith was seen riding a motorized cart and carrying crutches with an apparent foot injury. Brown didn't believe that Smith would miss any regular season games but also knows there are players on the roster that could step up.
"There's a lot of young guys that can step up, and some older guys that you might not know of yet that can go out and do what Devon is doing," Brown said.