Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien still hasn’t decided on his starting quarterback for the season opener against Syracuse.
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien still hasn't decided on his starting quarterback for the season opener against Syracuse. (NABIL K. MARK -- The Associated Press)

With just over a week to go until Penn State's season opener against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium, the Nittany Lions still don't have a starting quarterback.

Or at least one that coach Bill O'Brien is willing to divulge at this point.

"I think the biggest thing is that we have two really good, young quarterbacks," O'Brien said Thursday during a conference call meant to preview next Saturday's game against the Orange in East Rutherford, N.J.

"The only thing I care about is that this football team understands the direction where we're headed. We have two very good, young quarterbacks and both will have to be ready to play for us this year."

O'Brien's timeline for naming a starting quarterback has fluctuated throughout this offseason. He said last month he wanted to choose between freshman Christian Hackenberg and junior college transfer by the midway point of training camp.

At media day on Aug. 8 he softened that deadline a bit and said the race was too close to call at that point. Earlier this week, O'Brien told reporters he hoped to have a decision by the end of the week.

Thursday he said that deadline could also be changed.

"I don't know. It might not come until next week," O'Brien said. "It might come the first play of the game on offense."


O'Brien demonstrated some understandable frustration with the amount of quarterback questions he's received over the past four weeks, but was adamant that the fact Penn State doesn't have a starting quarterback has nothing to do with indecision.

"It's my job to run this football team," O'Brien said. "As long as I'm the coach I'm always going to do what's best for the football team. That has nothing to do with indecisiveness. All I care about is that the guys in our team meeting room know where we're headed."

The only real insight O'Brien gave into the quarterback battle Thursday was listing Hackenberg among freshman he thinks will contribute on offense this season.

Kline practicing: O'Brien, meanwhile, had high praise for Dallastown High School graduate Ben Kline, who is trying to earn playing time at linebacker.

Kline is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. O'Brien said earlier that he expects Kline to be ready for the season opener.

"Ben Kline has been practicing," O'Brien said. "Ben's a tough kid, he's a Penn State guy. Ben's a 4.0 student. We talk about a lot John Urschel, and rightly so, but Ben's also a 4.0 student. He's a fantastic kid and a tough, good leader on our team. He's a big special teams player and he'll play some linebacker for us. He's been out there."