Tuesdays with O'Brien: Upcoming tryouts

Coach Bill O'Brien usually declines comment on individual players, but on Tuesday he spoke glowingly of Big Ten defensive player of the week Michael Mauti (42), a player with whom he said he'll keep in touch for the rest of his life. Andrew Weber-US Presswire

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien has stressed the importance of walk-ons this season -- and today's weekly news conference was no different.

Penn State will hold open tryouts Wednesday evening at Holuba Hall, and O'Brien said he hopes to unearth a handful of contributors.

"I'd say, positionally, hopefully there's some DBs in the crowd there," O'Brien said. "That's the position right now that we're looking for. Other than that, I just want to get out there and see if we can go out and find some good football players."

Thirteen players have left the team since July 23, when the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions against Penn State, and those departures have created depth issues. O'Brien has just two place-kickers on the roster following Matt Marcincin's departure last week.

On defense, true freshman Da'Quan Davis played in three games and now boasts more experience than most of the secondary's backups.

"Males or females, I'm not sure how many will show up," O'Brien said. "But we'll see after practice tomorrow."

Injuries: O'Brien remained mostly mum on injuries to his tailbacks, but he said Derek Day was slightly ahead of Bill Belton in terms of recovery. He said they're both day-to-day.

Left tackle Donovan Smith is also questionable for this weekend; O'Brien said he was uncertain whether Smith would practice today.

O'Brien did not expect linebacker Nyeem Wartman or defensive end Pete Massaro to play this weekend.

Stickin' with Ficken: O'Brien said Sam Ficken -- who has made just 20 percent of his field goals and missed two extra points -- remains the starting kicker.

"Right now, it'll be Ficken on Saturday," he said.

Quotable: The first-year head coach normally doesn't say much when asked about individual players, but he made an exception for Michael Mauti.

"Usually when you guys ask me a question about an individual person, I'll try to relate it to the team," he said. "But I'm more than happy to talk about him individually. He's just a fantastic guy; he's a guy that I'll keep in touch with the rest of my life.

"He's a guy that's meant a lot to this football program, to this football team, to his teammates. He's great in the locker room. And just watching him play -- boy, you wish you could've played that way. He plays every play like it's his last play. ... He's a guy that means a lot to me and that means a lot to our football program."

Replacing Shawney Kersey: Brandon Moseby-Felder now appears at No. 1 on the depth chart, ahead of true freshman Trevor Williams.

Both will likely see time Saturday. Williams caught his first pass last weekend but couldn't haul in one that ended up being deflected into the hands of Allen Robinson.

Redshirts: O'Brien said he would like to redshirt all the freshmen who have not yet played in a game.

That means Akeel Lynch, Austin Johnson and Eugene Lewis will redshirt -- unless more injuries arise.

"This is a very strong freshman class that it has a bright future," O'Brien said.