Earlier this week we looked at the offense. Thanks for the feedback, and I'll be sure to keep these post game reviews going from now on. Now let's discuss the defense.
Outstanding performance by the defensive line on Saturday. They held the Badgers to just 87 yards rushing, or about half of their season average. The unstoppable P.J. Hill averaged 3.9 yards per carry and finished with just 75 yards. In the first half they were constantly flushing Tyler Donovan from the pocket forcing him to scramble. In the second half they started getting to him and finished the day with 3 sacks as a group.
Maurice Evans is arriving as one of the premier defensive ends in the league. He's probably playing 95% of the snaps now and goes hard on every play. He finished the day with 2 sacks and 3 TFL. Josh Gaines is doing a fine job opposite of Evans and forced the fumble by Hill on the first play from scrimmage that set the tone for the day.
|Even when you hold me you can't stop me!|
I was a bit worried when rumors were floating that Phil Taylor and Chris Baker weren't going to play. But Odrick and Ogbu did a fine job at defensive tackle. Baker did manage to get on the field some as did Tom McEowen and Abe Koroma. Change out any one of these guys with any other guy and the line doesn't skip a beat. I've never seen Penn State so deep at defensive tackle.
There were two injuries to report. Jared Odrick broke a few bones in his hand, but all indications are that he will play through it. Jerome Hayes tore his ACL and he's done for the year. This should open up opportunities for Aaron Maybin to see more time.
I sound like a broken record here but I don't know what else to write. The linebackers had yet another stellar game. Connor and Lee each had 12 tackles in the game. Lee gets the gold star for registering 2 sacks and recovering a fumble. Connor will have to deal with the fact his 1.5 sack wasn't the best performance.
On a side note, it's a shame Lee isn't getting the same level of recognition Connor is with the post season awards. Connor has been named a semi-finalist for the Lombardi and Butkus awards. Lee has been left off the list despite having nearly identical statistics. I guess it's because he's a junior and Connor is a senior, but Laurinaitis is a junior too and Lee has more tackles and TFL than the Buckeye. So what gives?
|Tyler Donovan knows Sean Lee|
The combination of Josh Hull and Tyrell Sales is doing an adequate job at the other outside linebacker spot. They combined for six tackles on the day. But these guys don't have the look of playmakers. Perhaps this is why the coaches made the decision to lift the redshirt on Chris Colasanti last week. I'm hoping we see him in the rotation to get some meaningful reps this week.
I've been somewhat disappointed in our defensive backs this year. I'm questioning the move of Tony Davis to safety as he seems to be splitting his time there with Mark Rubin. He hasn't shown the play making ability he did last year, but in fairness he suffered a shoulder stinger against buffalo that has hampered his play.
Anthony Scirrotto has been mostly invisible this year just popping up here and there with a key pick. Maybe teams aren't throwing his way over the middle because I can't think of a play this year where he flat out leveled someone like he did all last year.
Lydell Sargeant is starting to look more comfortable at corner. Teams are picking on him as evidenced by his 8 tackles. He broke up two passes and picked one off, but truthfully he was beat on the pick and got lucky that the receiver tipped the ball right into his hands. Still, he's playing good football right now.
|Don't bring that cheese in my kitchen|
Justin King has not looked like the shutdown corner he did last year. He's getting beat on plays where he's in perfect position but just doesn't look back for the ball. Maybe he's become complacent from teams not throwing to him. I believe it was him and Davis who missed the tackle that allowed the 32 yard pass that set up Wisconsin's only score.
It's hard to complain when your defense holds the opponent to seven points. My only complaint is that the secondary is playing too much soft zone for my taste. If you have a premium membership to Fight On State you know there is a reason for this. I'm dying for some local newspaper to break the story so I can share it with you, but I can't divulge premium material so I'm going to have to wait until after the season.
Jeremy Boone is doing a fantastic job as the punter. He nailed four punts this week for a 40 yard average. Two of them landed inside the 20 yard line. He currently has Penn State ranked #3 in the country in net punting.
The return game is not as dynamic as I thought it was going to be. Williams had one good return and fumbled it away at the PSU 38 yard line. Fortunately the defense held and forced Bielema to punt. A.J. Wallace only got one kick return for 23 yards.
Kevin Kelly made good on a 30 yarder and missed on a 42 yarder. Fortunately we haven't had many games this year where field goal kicking has been paramount. Fortunately he's doing a fantastic job putting balls deep in the endzone on kickoffs. This is good because Penn State is giving up a whopping 25.8 yards per return on kickoffs that don't go for touchbacks.
(Images from PennLive.com)