Player to Watch: Penn State Faces Off Against the Top Linebacker in the Country in Kentucky’s Josh Allen

By John Morgan on December 28, 2018 at 11:52 am
Oct 27, 2018; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock (3) looses the ball as he is sacked by Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen (41) during the second half at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. Kentucky won 15-14.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There was some question if Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen would even play in the Citrus Bowl against Penn State. It would have been hard to blame him given his NFL Draft prospects. However, after a 9-3 regular season, Kentucky is playing in their best bowl game in years and Allen joined star running back Benny Snell Jr. in suiting up for the Wildcats.

Allen was named the top defender in the SEC while also taking home the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Award, and the Chuck Bednarik Award. He finished the season with 14 sacks (28.5 in his career) and 18.5 tackles for loss. He also forced five fumbles. He’s a disruptive force and the key to the stout Kentucky defense.

Much like last year when Penn State faced the Washington and  Pac-12 defensive player of the year Vita Vea, the offense faces another tough test in Allen. Kentucky’s success in 2018 is largely attributed to their defense which only allowed 16.25 points per game. The Wildcats are ranked 21st in total defense and no player on that defense is as important as Josh Allen.

Trace McSorley was clearly banged up for the latter part of the regular season and a month of rest was much needed. Ricky Rahne’s game plan must find a way to neutralize Allen’s impact on the game. With a healthier McSorley, the run-pass option that wasn't in full gear late in the season will be helpful in keeping Allen on his toes. If he's able to pressure McSorley with any regularity, it could be a long day for a Penn State offense that struggled for long stretches this season.