STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Matt McGloin stepped up to the interview chair and offered his usual, confident smirk.
The clean-shaven fifth-year senior looked as if he had arrived straight from the barber. He relaxed under the bright lights of the media room, in a chair that causes some to stutter and others to grasp at loose thoughts, and appeared as if he was sitting for a job interview -- as the boss.
The cocksure quarterback talked about how this Purdue game would be different, how Penn State reflected on its flaws and corrected them. But, when asked how he specifically could respond to another heavy pass rush, that smirk faded slightly.
"Nothing," he said.
"As a quarterback it's not your job to worry about whether or not the defender's closing in on you or who's blocking this guy or who's blocking that guy. ... I definitely believe my linemen are capable of blocking anyone they face. I think we should have some time to throw the ball Saturday."
There was no talk about spending more time in the shotgun, or perhaps leaning heavily on three-step drops. Maybe that's in the game plan, maybe not, but McGloin spoke in an even tone as if he held no doubts the line would improve.
The Buckeyes often brought an extra rusher Saturday, and McGloin seemed to dance in the backfield with scarlet and gray jerseys every other play. Trading Johnathan Hankins and John Simon for Purdue's Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston seems to be a similar challenge -- another where McGloin might be able to do "nothing" -- but McGloin's teammates know their response isn't pinned to the shoulders of their quarterback.
"We have to do a better job of protecting Matt," offensive guard John Urschel acknowledged.
Urschel thought emotions might have gotten to this line, maybe taking their minds off protections or practices. But Bill O'Brien disagreed without elaborating much.
O'Brien said he called upon McGloin and center Matt Stankiewitch earlier in the week, sat them down and emphasized communication. That silent cadence is more detailed this week, O'Brien said, and he's hoping that reinvigorates his passing game.
McGloin just shrugged and reiterated he'll keep doing what O'Brien asks. The new coach has brought the former walk-on a long way, and McGloin isn't worried about other units on this offense. If a receiver drops 10 balls, McGloin said he wouldn't hesitate throwing to him again if he finds a seam. And if the offensive line stumbles, the quarterback refuses to grow fearful of taking another sack.
Whatever problems or plans Penn State possesses, concern was not an emotion painted on McGloin's face. Slight irritation at a few questions? Yes. Confidence? Absolutely.
But there was no sense of panic. McGloin looked back at the press, smiled at most questions, and swore this team's desire to finish strong outweighed any lingering disappointment from last Saturday.
"They were full of some good athletes on that team, but we can't focus too much on Ohio State," McGloin said. "That game's in the past and, like I said, we have four left to keep pushing on here.
"And it starts with Purdue."