I really shouldn’t have signed up to write about the concerns on the defense because I am of the belief that this will be Brent Pry’s best unit during his tenure at Penn State. Regardless, let’s give this a try.
1. Starting Strong Safety
Assuming Garrett Taylor stays at his free safety spot, Penn State has a large hole to fill at strong safety. The “centerfield” safety in Pry’s defense, it isn’t much of a fit for noted run-defender Jonathan Sutherland so this job will likely come down to Lamont Wade or incoming JUCO Jaquan Brisker — who is also probably a better fit for the free safety spot.
To be honest with you, this is my only true concern defensively. I continue to be a Wade supporter — remember, last year was his first year playing safety — but it’d be nice if there was another true strong safety on the roster who could realistically compete with him for the job.
Maybe you start Sutherland at free safety, move Taylor to strong safety, and hope that works out? Maybe Brisker is more comfortable than expected playing the centerfield role? I don’t know, but it just seems like a lack of options which isn’t ideal.
2. Rounding Out The Defensive Line
Penn State returns two all-conference selections on the defensive line in defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and defensive tackle Robert Windsor, but who steps up around them remains to be see. Sure, there are plenty of options at defensive end (Shaka Toney, Shane Simmons, Jayson Oweh, and Daniel Joseph) and defensive tackle (Antonio Shelton, PJ Mustipher, Fred Hansard, and Damion Barber), but it’s a bit unproven at least from a starter perspective.
Personally, I do think the defensive line will be good — largely because Sean Spencer has proven to be one of the five best defensive line coaches in America — but a lot of that is based on projections, and not necessarily things we have seen thus far. I’m not usually a Doubting Thomas, but in the case of this article, seeing is believing.
3. Micah Parsons Potentially Suplexing Opposing QBs And Getting Suspended For It
I don’t know if you guys saw, but Micah Parsons (who is 6-foot-3, 241 pounds) ran a 4.41 forty a few weeks ago. This mostly good news because it means Parsons is going to be chasing down poor quarterbacks, but I worry about him suplexing — oh I don’t know Justin Fields — into oblivion like this.
In the moment, yes, it would be awesome, but one would have to think that the Big Ten will come down hard on a player who regularly suplexes his opponents. Would hate to see Parsons miss the second half of the Ohio State game because he took Fields to Suplex City.