Saturday’s game was brutal for Penn State football. What can’t be denied was the Nittany Lions respectable defensive effort.
Everything isn’t completely a train wreck for Penn State football. Sure the offense couldn’t move the ball at all against Michigan, but the defense was respectable against an efficient Wolverine offense. The final score doesn’t do the efforts of the Nittany Lions’ D justice.
One touchdown was scored off Tommy Stevens’ pick-six, and the defense did a decent job of slowing down the offense in the first half. Even though offense had almost zero time of possession in the first half, the defense gave up only 14 points before the game got out of control in the third and fourth quarter.
The defense gave up 403 total yards on 69 total offensive plays. It didn’t force any turnovers, but it kept Michigan contained for a bit. Junior starting linebacker and newcomer to the defense Jan Johnson was productive again, recording 10 total tackles and a tackle for loss. Freshman Micah Parsons followed with eight tackles. The incoming duo has done a great job of stifling the run game, as both are now the co-leaders in tackles on the season with 51 each.
Those two have been key to the defense slowing down offenses over the last few weeks. It seems that the new players have made huge strides and will be key for the future.
In addition to the continuing better play at the linebacker, is top-tier pass rusher Yetur Gross-Matos. With another sack against Michigan last Saturday, he has 40 total tackles, 13.5 for loss and seven sacks. Over the last three weeks, he has done a majority of that damage, compiling five sacks and seven tackles for loss.
As he continues to develop along with the rest of the defense, it looks like Penn State has a building block for the future. With a huge matchup looming against Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin run game. With the way some of these players keep stepping up, expect the defense to stifle the run game on Saturday.