It all starts in the trenches. The cornerbacks get notoriety for shutting down the other teams top receiver. The ballhawking safeties get noticed when they’re creating turnovers and laying the lumber. The linebackers get the make plays all over the field. And the defensive ends make the highlight reels by bringing down the quarterback and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
But it all starts at defensive tackle. A good defensive tackle can help stuff the run. A great defensive tackle makes the 10 players alongside and behind them better and frees them up to make plays. Fortunately, Penn State has one of the best defensive tackles you’ll find in the nation in PJ Mustipher.
Mustipher was way more than Indiana could handle on Saturday. He lived in the backfield and prevented the Hoosiers running game from even getting started, holding them to just 69 yards on the ground. It forced them to be one-sided from the get-go, and prevented any hope of even making it a competitive contest this time around.
Mustipher finished with six tackles, second only behind Ellis Brooks’ eight stops on the day. Yes, he did that from the defensive tackle position. He also added a TFL for good measure, and helped create the other three for the Nittany Lions defense throughout the game.
WR Jahan Dotson- Will Dotson leave the Nittany Lions as the best receiver in program history? He certainty makes his case every week. Another brilliant performance included eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a beauty of a pass that resulted in a 21-yard completion to get the ball deep in Hoosiers territory.
RB Keyvone Lee- It’s been widely observed that Lee has been trying too hard to make something happen with the ball in his hands instead of just putting his head down and running with the ball. Saturday was a return to form for Lee, as his patience with the ball paid off in a major way. Lee led the way on the ground on a night when the run game otherwise struggled, averaging 9.3 yards per pop with 74 yards on eight carries.
Every Nittany Lion who played a defensive snap - Talk about a total team effort. This is a special defense where EVERYONE contributes. There is almost never a single player dominating the stat sheet, just 11 dudes who play like their hair is on fire every single snap until the clock is all zeroes. I can’t state enough how much of a joy this defense is to watch each Saturday.