Key Departures: Anthony Zettel (to defensive tackle)
Newcomers: Curtis Cothren (RS FR), Garrett Sickles (RS FR)
Projected Starters: Olaniyan at RDE, Barnes at LDE, with Bars, and....let's go with Nassib as the fourth guy in the rotation.
Highlights From 2013
You want highlights? Throw on the Eastern Michigan, Kent State, and Syracuse games, or whenever Michigan tried to run the ball, which was hilarious. But beyond that, Penn State, Linebacker U, finished 37th in rush defense. While that's obviously not good enough, it was also Penn State's best national statistic. Here are the rest: 74th in pass defense, 49th in total defense, 47th in sacks, and a pathetic 86th in tackles for loss. Multiply aggressive.
Hello, CJ Olaniyan. After tallying a grand total of 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss in his first two seasons in Happy Valley, CJ registered a break out junior campaign with 5 sacks and 11 TFLs. Joining CJ was then-sophomore Anthony Zettel, who earned equal playing time - or nearly so - as part of the defensive end rotation around halfway through the season. Zettel planted the QB 4 times, and tallied 6 TFLs - pretty sweet for not getting a ton of snaps in the first four or five games. I thought Zettel displayed the best pass rush technique of our defensive ends, and he has one of the best motors on the team.
First, Zettel is now listed as a brand new defensive tackle, weighing in the neighborhood of 250 lbs. So, there's that. The other "bad" was Deion Barnes' performance last season: 2 sacks, 4 TFLs, and he lost some playing time by coaches' choice during the year. That's not what you hope for from the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
What to Watch In the Blue-White Game
There are a ton of questions, and we won't get all of the answers from the scrimmage. What can Brad Bars give us coming back from a blowed-out Achilles? Have Evan Schwan and Carl Nassib added any lead to their skinny asses? And what, if anything, might we get from the two redshirt freshmen this year, Curtis Cothren and Garrett Sickles? Does either have Aaron Maybin's first step, or Tamba Hali's motor? Because it would cool if they did.