2012 Penn State Blue/White Postgame Roundtable: Reviewing the Defense

C.J. Olaniyan stood out by racking up three sacks on Saturday. (via Mike Pettigano)

In case you missed it, yesterday we shared our thoughts on the offense's performance at the Blue/White Game. Now it's time for our takeaways on the efforts of Ted Roof and company. As always, feel free to leave your answers in the comments section.

Which player pleasantly surprised you on Saturday?

Adam: Devin Pryor. Is this the Aric Heffelfinger Award Winner? Probably. CJ Olaniyan had a fine game, but he's been expected to be a player since his recruitment began. Pryor not only picked off a pass, but showed some nice moves in the return game, and an entirely infectious enthusiasm. He probably won't see much of the field, but if he can make some similar plays on special teams (either on the return or coverage teams), we'll be better off.

Dan: Adrian Amos. Once again, due to his transition to a new spot. Looked like a natural safety out there.

Jared: Jesse Della Valle. I'll admit I had to look him up in my program after I saw #39 on the field at the beginning of the game. I won't have to look him up again after Saturday. He made quite an impact, most notably making a great cut to intercept an underthrown McGloin pass, and a jarring hit that caused a drop by Allen Robinson. Don't be surprised if Della Valle works his way into the rotation come September 1st.

Cari: Devin Pryor. Seriously, who is this kid? And why didn't I put him in my defensive backs preview post? As with McGregor, not someone who should see significant playing time, but that kind of effort and enthusiasm on the scout team and in the locker room can be infectious. Attitude can be everything.

Nick: Brad Bars. I'm not sure how many snaps he played, but his name seemed to get mentioned a lot with his ability to penetrate into the backfield.

Devon: C.J. Olaniyan. He's been something of a forgotten man, the last couple years, but watching him this weekend, I can't wait for him to get into the rotation. Yes, the 3 sacks he had Saturday might equal the number he gets all season, given the depth along the line, but he'll be an important piece of LJ's rotation for years to come.

Who did you expect to see more from in terms of PT or performance?

Adam: I was perfectly content with the defense in every aspect, including this one. It's obvious they're suffering from injury attrition. Honestly, I'm just happy most of the team got out of there in one piece. A special shout out to TJ Rhattigan, who we hope wasn't injured too badly in first half.

Dan: Mike Hull's name wasn't called much. But that's something I won't put too much stock into in the spring game.

Jared: Mike Hull. I was hoping to see Hull make an impressions to demonstrate why he earned a 5-star ranking in 2010. Unfortunately, I just didn't see it on Saturday. He was around the ball, but usually seemed just out of position to make a play. Hull is entering his redshirt sophomore year, so there's plenty of time for him to become an outstanding linebacker.

Cari: Honestly, I expected the defense as a whole to dominate much more than they did. I know some key players were held out due to injury, and as precautions, but they started out very slow. Whether due to the new system, or perhaps new looks the offense was giving them, I expect our D to always be stifling. Though, in their defense (see what I did there?), the 3rd and 4th string D is well ahead of the 3rd and 4th string offense.

Devon: Granted, I was up in the booth, and focusing more on the offense, but I didn't see Pete Massaro too much, and I certainly didn't hear his name get called often. I thought he was a contender to follow in Aaron Maybin's footsteps as an edge rusher, and it would've been nice to see that he's fully recovered from that ACL.

Did the performance of the secondary allay any of your concerns or are you even more worried now?

Adam: I'm satisfied. I'm not particularly concerned with the talent at corner, safety, or nickel. I've desperately concerned about depth. The walk-ons looked pretty good yesterday, but I think it's best if we don't suffer any debilitating injuries.

Dan: They didn't play bad. The three interceptions was definitely a plus. Definitely a good starting point heading into summer.

Jared: The secondary looked solid considering they are breaking in four new starters. As expected, Adrian Amos impressed at safety and seems destined for stardom. I'm betting Mike Wallace, who sat out while healing from a minor injury, will surprise people in the fall. The talent seems to be there, it's just keeping everyone healthy through the course of the year.

Cari: Neither. I'm equally as concerned now as I was before, though less about depth--it seems we may have some more solid contributors than I thought before, but whether they're up there on the talent scale has yet to be seen.

Devon- Honestly, I was never as worried as most. We've got some good football players back there, and though there will be growing pains, I'm just really excited to see Adrian Amos unleashed, and Derrick Thomas stay on the field. Oh, and by all accounts, The Drake has made a smooth transition. The truly surprising takeaway was the depth: maybe our QBs are just that bad, but Jesse Della Valle and Devin Pryor--who?--looked fantastic.

Nick: I've never been as worried as some others about the secondary as long as they're not ravaged by injuries. There are capable guys back there, just not a lot of depth.

Do you feel any differently about the coaching staff than you did prior to this weekend?

Adam: It was about what I expected out of them. Uptempo, energetic, fairly competent on both sides of the ball in spite of the new systems being installed. I thought Ted Roof's defense was aggressive and entertaining, and will be much better when it's at full strength and guys like Mauti and Fortt return to the lineup.

Dan: No, they are still as unproven as I thought before Saturday. Once the rest of the offense is installed, a better judgement can be made.

Jared- No. Like O'Brien said, we only saw about 10% of the offense. I didn't expect much to be installed after a handful of spring practices. There was nothing that gave me a strong impression of the abilities of the new coaching staff one way or another.

Cari: Not really. In rewatching the game on BTN, I was glad to see BOB so involved in the play-callling--though this is what I expected. And the offensive line performed admirably--Mac McWhorter was perhaps the coach I was most excited to have join the staff, and so far that addition looks good.

Devon: Nah. I already thought pretty highly of pretty much everyone on staff, and they definitely impressed--the defensive backs, especially, under the tutelage of John Butler. But it's not like we saw enough to really formulate opinions one way or the other, though I continue to give the benefit of the doubt.

Nick: No, until we see meaningful games there's nothing to really change any of the reservations I've had about the staff.

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