Penn State Secondary Struggles Continue in Win Over Indiana

By Barry Leonard on November 17, 2019 at 11:31 am
Nov 16, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Indiana Hoosiers tight end Peyton Hendershot (86) runs with the ball as Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (5) attempts a tackle during the third quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Indiana 34-27.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State picked up a much-needed conference win over the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday. Despite the victory, however, it wasn't all positive for the Nittany Lions. Considered among the best defenses in the nation just two weeks ago, Penn State struggled for the second consecutive week to stop an opponent's passing attack. 

After allowing Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan to throw for 339 yards and three touchdowns a week ago, there was a hope that the secondary would make some adjustments and show improvement for this week. 

However, Indiana entered the game as the best passing offense in the Big Ten, and even with backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey at the helm of the offense, there was still some concern for the Penn State defensive backfield heading into the matchup with the Hoosiers. 

From early on in the first quarter, it was clear that Indiana was going to try to take advantage of Penn State's recent struggles in the secondary. Ramsey connected on a 38-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Ty Fryfogle. There was a clear blown coverage on the play, as Fryfogle ran down the middle of the field and didn't have a defender within a several yards of him. 

There were several other examples of guys getting beat in coverage or not being in position, including near the end of the game, when Fryfogle was again allowed to get behind the defense and gained 46 yards on a fourth-and-six that would have ended the game. 

Indiana finished the game with 371 total passing yards, a new career-high for Ramsey. 

After the game, Penn State cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields credited miscommunication on defense as the reason for allowing the big plays. "I think we are one of the best defenses in the nation when we communicate, when everybody's on the same page, but those plays were just miscommunication."

When asked why there's still miscommunication in the secondary this late in the season, Castro-Fields replied, "It just happens sometimes, but everyone just needs to be attentive and remember what they did in practice."

Miscommunication is something that cannot happen 10 games into the season. The Nittany Lions better get things figured out in the secondary quickly before heading to Columbus for the next game to take on the dangerous Buckeyes. 

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