It seems like yesterday, but it wasn’t. Lo, those many weeks ago, back on August 16th, Film Room wondered what this new, 2018 PSU defense would look like with App State coming to town. Specifically, how would Dear Old State fare in its bid to replace the entire center of its defense, from DT to LB to S. And though it was a bit shaky at times, and it won’t have its name carved into marble inside the Lasch Building - in general, it’s mostly held up its end of the “complimentary foosball” deal.
In this final week of the regular season, Penn State’s defense gets yet another stiff test. The Maryland Terrapins come to Beaver Stadium - and like App State, and Pitt, and Indiana, and to a certain extent, even Illinois - these boys are planning to run the dang ball, and rely upon your lack of gap discipline to create holes that they can’t create by sheer force of will.
Kill The Lights
The really unfortunate part of this week’s test for Linebacker U is that, if we give the Terps a crease, then brother, we ain’t catching ‘em. Anthony McFarland (8.18 ypc) and Ty Johnson (7.67 ypc) can run-run. To wit:
In the gif above, Maryland motions weakside to strongside, potentially changing run defense responsibilities just before the snap, as well as drawing the defense’s attention toward the strongside - and then they catch OSU out of position, shooting the crease into the second level. And once McFarland hits the second level, he gone. OSU safety #25 Brendan White takes one wrong step inside, and is immediately burnt to a crisp.
But McFarland isn’t just pure speed. In the gif below, he roasts #25 again with a George Jefferson dead leg shimmy. And then, he gone. Again.
And, again. (#25 did not have a great first half).
Frankly, none of the OSU DBs fared very well in the magic eraser role. Below is superstar Jeffrey Okudah, #1, rotated into a 18-yard deep safety covering half of the field due to Maryland’s screwy alignment and motion - and even he gets his feet crossed up by McFarland on this one.
So what should you do? Should you man up the receivers, play single high, and load the box like you’re playing Navy, or 1983 Nebraska? Well, you can do that. But there may be consequences. Here’s Maryland’s #7 Dontay Demus, running past superstar CB Kendall Sheffield, and hauling in a perfectly thrown over the shoulder ball.
Hit The Lights
The nice part about Pitt in week 2 was that even when the Panthers creased us up front, we still had four or five dudes who could run down Qadree Ollison. Same deal with Indiana, and App State. Not the same deal with Illinois’ Reggie Corbin, but the Illini would only give him a few carries per game anyhow. So whoop-dee-do.
That’s not the case this Saturday on Senior Day. If there ever was a time to read your keys, ignore eye candy, and play your responsibilities whilst maintaining your gap discipline, and trusting your teammates to do their job - friends, this is the week. If last Saturday in Piscataway was our OL’s final exam, this week is the final exam for our run defense - particularly our LBs and safeties.