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Time To Step Up: Jack Crawford

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Okay, so yesterday we featured Curtis Drake in this series, and then later in the day the news came out that Curtis Drake broke his leg in practice which will force him to sit out the entire spring and puts his future in doubt for the fall. Since the two events are obviously linked together, a twitter mob came together last night to demand that today's post feature Jay Paterno. The thought crossed my mind, but since Brandon Ware didn't suffer some kind of buffalo wing injury on Tuesday, I think we're safe to keep going. So today we'll look at Jack Crawford.

To say Penn State's defensive line was disappointing in 2010 would be a pretty accurate statement. The Nittany Lions ranked 74th in rushing defense giving up 165 yards per game. They ranked 101 in sacks with just 17. Michael Mauti and Nathan Stupar combined for four of those from the linebacker position. For Jack Crawfords part, he only contributed two sacks. Not very impressive for a man who fans have given the nickname "Jack the Ripper".

In fairness, Crawford suffered an ankle injury against Iowa that forced him to miss the next three games. And after he returned it was obvious he wasn't 100% and it took him some time until he got back into playing shape.

Still, Crawford's career to this point has been a disappointment. Big things were expected from him the day he stepped on campus. Having been born and raised in Great Britian, he had no football experience until he came to America as a high school student. But from years of playing basketball he had exceptional agility and explosiveness for a guy that stands 6'5" and weighs 265 lbs. He was raw, but everyone was certain Larry Johnson could take that raw talent and mold it into a first round NFL draft pick like he has done with so many other players.

But to date the results have not been there. Crawford played sparingly as a true freshman in 2008. He landed a starting role in 2009 and started in all 13 games. He recorded 14.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks seemingly setting the stage for a fantastic career going forward. But most of those big plays came against lesser competition. Against better teams with respectable offensive lines, Crawford seemed to get lost and disappear not being a factor in the game. Then, of course, there was last year which we already discussed. Any way you look at it, Crawford was a disappointment.

This year Penn State needs Jack Crawford to step up and anchor the strong side of the defensive line. Everyone says he's a beast in the weight room, and that his technique is superb on the practice field. The problem I see is aggressiveness, or I should say a lack thereof. Crawford has to stop thinking about what he needs to do and just do it. He needs to be physical and make offensive tackles he's a psycho deserving of his Jack the Ripper title. Penn State can't afford to give up 200 yard rushing games and not get to the quarterback all season like they did last year. Jack Crawford needs to step up.