Tuesdays with O'Brien: Dual threat?

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Don't tell Bill O'Brien his quarterback can't be a dual threat.

"What are you talking about?" the coach yelled in mock exasperation Tuesday when a reporter made that statement. "Were you at the Northwestern game?"

An animated O'Brien thrust out his arm and smiled while addressing the athleticism of Matt McGloin, who's rushed for five touchdowns and countless first downs this season. Maybe "dual threat" wasn't the right adjective to describe a senior whose slides and dives have been known to cause a few chuckles, but O'Brien said his signal-caller can move.

"People always use that label 'dual threat,' and I always use the example of Tom Brady -- and one of the best qualities about Tom Brady is his feet in the pocket," O'Brien said. "What we've tried to do with Matt is teach him about pocket awareness, and Matt's done a good job of that."

Fullback Michael Zordich, who stood off to the side during the media conference, took the dais and -- joke or not -- smiled about the notion McGloin was a running threat.

"It's debatable, that comment," Zordich said with a laugh. "But, nah, we mess around with him because we always say he's not that athletic -- but he's very good at getting away from the pocket and evading pressure. It's really impressive.

"I wouldn't go as far as calling him an athlete, but I'll give him credit for that."

McGloin's awkward touchdown "dive" -- or faceplant, depending how you look at it -- became a memorable .gif in the world of social media. But there's no debating his efficiency: McGloin has 1,788 passing yards, 19 total touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Bench benched: Many pundits and fans wondered why backup quarterback and true freshman Steven Bench didn't see any reps during Saturday's blowout against Iowa.

O'Brien's reasoning? The game wasn't in hand. Yep, that's what he said. Penn State led 31-0 after three quarters.

"You can disagree with me, I don't really care," he said. "I just felt like the game was not really in hand like everyone else thought. I felt Iowa was still in the game and, yeah, maybe I could have gotten Steven in, but I think Steven realizes we're trying to win the football game, do what's best for the football team, so I stuck with Matt throughout the whole game."

Birthday boy: O'Brien turned 43 on Tuesday, and he insisted he had totally forgotten his birthday until his older brother texted him in the morning.

"I'm not a big birthday guy," O'Brien said, seemingly turning in his best Eeyore impression. "My wife will list all the things I really don't enjoy -- birthdays, weddings, theme parks, the beach. I'm not a big beach guy ..."

O'Brien said he had no special plans for Tuesday, outside of directing practice and breaking down film.

Injury report: True freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman, who blocked a punt in his first game, is now cleared to play. Wartman injured his knee against Virginia -- and could qualify for a medical redshirt.

O'Brien said he's not yet sure whether Wartman will play. "If we need him, he'll play," the coach added.

Kickoff team: Iowa's Jordan Cotton returned one kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown Saturday, but O'Brien said that was an exception to the way that unit has played this season -- and he's ensuring it doesn't happen again.

"Yeah, that wasn't very good football. I believe that we're better than that," O'Brien said. "I think, in the Iowa game, we somewhat relaxed on that play. We spent a lot of time over the last day and a half correcting that. Our players on the hit squad, the kickoff team, they've done a really good job all year, they really have, except for that instance."