Phil Steele Sez...Defense and Special Teams

I probably spent more time on this than Steele did, but I suppose that's what blogging is all about.  I'll review the first teamers in depth, summarize the rest of the PSU representation, and give some final thoughts below:

Big Ten 1st Team:

DE Maurice Evans - Frank Cooney has Evans as the third best DE in the nation, so, ya, he's kind of a big deal.  He was also named to both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. The nice thing about DE's is they tend to bring a fairly consistent game week in and week out. Production is another issue, but this has a lot to do with the ability of an offense to scheme around select players. Either way, he is going to be making plays or making it easier for others to do the same.  There is also no question he belongs on the 1st team.

SS Anthony Scirrotto -I'll be the first to admit that I have a tough time judging how well a SS is actually playing.  You typically see them on three different plays: (1) lining up and destroying a receiver when the QB throws a 'hospital pass' (have to give credit to my high school hockey coach for that one). For example:

Ahh, good times.  Moving on...(2) when the corner either blitzes or blows a coverage, leaving the safty to cover as a corner, or (3) chasing down a guy who has already caught the ball in stride headed down field. It's difficult to judge which one of these things is the player blowing his assignments and which is his ability to make up for others' shortcomings. I do know this: he hits people hard (see above), he runs a 4.56 forty (solid, not great), he led the Big Ten in interceptions (6), and finished second amongst all players in the conference with 14 passes defended. What I'm getting at is that he's pretty good at what he does, even if he does look short on the field for some reason.

LB Sean Lee - I couldn't resist bringing him up, and I'm still not fully over his injury, which doesn't sound right but you know what I'm saying.  Rehab is coming along, although as suspected it sounds a little discouraging.

The Rest of The Story

CB AJ Wallace (2nd Team), DT Phillip Taylor (4th Team) and LB Tyrell Sales (4th Team) also made the list.  Wallace is what guys like Paterno call a "football player".  He doesn't dominate at any one position but has shown the ability to play WR, CB and return kicks with a high level of success.  King was as quick as any player on the field, but Wallace might have a better football sense and that will help him become the lock down guy we need.  Taylor gets the nod here despite make more bad news than good.  While he is a solid player I think Ollie Ogbu should have been named here instead.  Sales recorded 50 tackles last season and by most accounts has shown improvement during the off-season.  With the injury to Lee, he is going to have to "step it up", as they say.

Special Teams 1st Team

P Jeremy Boone - No question here, and with Paterno's ultra-conservative road game plans, Boone might end up being a lot more important to PSU's success than most people realize.  While he struggled in the loss to MSU, he posted an impressive 51.4 yard per kick average in the bowl game and shows consistency..

KR AJ Wallace - See above...basically Wallace and Williams are one of the better 1-2 punches in the Big Ten.

Special Teams 2nd Team

PR Derrick Williams - More of this, please:



Special Teams 3rd Team

K Kevin Kelly - Here's the deal:

FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+
Kevin Kelly 97.6 0-0 13-13 4-4 1-4 1-3

So basically, he's money inside 40 and, well, not money outside 40.  This is great if you are settling and want the three points, but it can be frustrating when you are trying to mount a drive at the end of a half or are facing a 4th and long on the opponent's 30 yard line.  Don't get me wrong, I'll take perfection from inside 40 all day long, I'm just saying there is room for improvement.

Other Defensive Notes...

-Ohio State has 10 of their 11 defensive starters on Steele's first three teams. 
-Illinois will never be able to replace J, he's an American Hero , but they appear to have another decent linebacker in Martez Wilson.
-Minnesota has just one player on the All Conference Team, 3rd Team LB Steve Davis.  Ok, that's the wrong Steve Davis, but there probably isn't that much to share about the football player anyway so enjoy the read on Snooker.

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