Penn State's Defense Deserves All the Credit in the World

By Nick Polak on November 23, 2019 at 4:46 pm
Nov 23, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions safety Lamont Wade (38) and safety Jaquan Brisker (7) and safety Garrett Taylor (17) celebrate the fumble recovery during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State's defense had a rough go against Minnesota and a tough day against Indiana. Many suspected that same defensive group would be gashed by the high-powered Ohio State offense. However, instead of bending and breaking against what is potentially the best offense in the entire country, Brent Pry's unit put on what may have been its most impressive performance of the season when you consider the stakes and the opponent.

The Buckeyes managed 417 total yards on the day (229 on the ground, and 188 through the air) and put 28 points on the scoreboard. But when you consider how much time this Nittany Lion defense spent on the field, those numbers are incredibly impressive. Not just that, but the Lions were able to force three fumbles on what had been one of the most turnover-immune teams in the nation.

JK Dobbins, one of the best running backs in the country, certainly got his with 157 yards rushing, but it took him 36 carries to do it. And as far as how they handled Heisman candidate Justin Fields? He completed 16 of 22 passes for 188 yards. The leading receiver? KJ Hill who had 4 receptions for 46 yards.

Was the unit perfect? Of course not. They allowed Justin Fields to pick up too many clutch third downs, several with his legs. But to expect to complete shut down this offense was a pipe dream. All this unit had to do to have a successful day was to give their offense a chance to win. They did that and more, and had the offense had the benefit of a healthy starting quarterback, who knows what may have been.

Between Lamont Wade playing possibly the game of his life, Micah Parsons doing everything that makes him so special, and Yetur Gross-Matos rediscovering his unlimited potential before leaving the game with an injury, the defense rebounded in a way that kept Penn State close with the juggernaut Buckeyes.

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