Micah Parsons returns to the Penn State defense this week. The sophomore standout was ejected for targeting in the first quarter against Maryland last Friday. Even though Parsons was out, the strong Nittany Lion defense has depth at each position. That depth allowed sophomore linebacker Jesse Luketa to enter the game. The defense did not miss a step. Penn State shut out the Terps 59-0, largely in part by the consistency across every defensive position.
Micah Parsons Returns to Solid Penn State Defense
The Penn State defense has a reputation as being tough. Throughout the years there have been many great Nittany Lion linebackers. Due to this, Penn State is fondly titled Linebacker U. The difference this year is that every defensive position is playing as one. Yes, there were hiccups throughout the first few games, but the Nittany Lion defense hit its stride against Maryland. It is unlikely that this group will look back.
Last week the focus was on Sean Clifford and the Penn State offense. Further, how the unit would fair against a tough Terps defense. Clifford connected with several different receivers and all of the running backs got involved. The offense finally looked in sync. Also, James Franklin stated that it was the most complete game he had seen from his team in six years. I think the fans agree. Historically, Penn State doesn’t look very sharp after a bye week. This year though, every single player looked prepared and ready to play.
Before Parsons was ejected he had two total tackles. After the ejection, Luketa stepped right in and the defense didn’t miss a beat. This is the kind of mentality that needs to carry-over into Purdue. Luketa finished the game second in tackles and he had a pass defended. While it will be good to get Parsons back this week, it is good to know that the talent does not fall off if he is out of the game. Luketa wasn’t the only Nittany Lion to step up.
The defense had a field day with Maryland quarterback, Josh Jackson. The junior transfer from Virginia Tech had a rough day. Penn State freshman defensive end Adisa Isaac and junior linebacker Ellis Brooks combined for four sacks. In addition, Jan Johnson and Tariq Castro-Fields both had an interception. Finally, true freshman cornerback, Keaton Ellis had a forced fumble that he recovered. Even though everyone wants Parsons on the field, it was a good sign to see what the defense can do without him.
Looking Ahead to Purdue
The Purdue Boilermakers are 1-3 coming into Homecoming at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Not only will the Boilermakers be playing in front of a sold-out crowd, but they will also be without two key offensive starters. Starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar is out with a broken left collarbone. In addition, wide receiver Rondale Moore isn’t a go either with a hyperextended knee. Franklin stated this week that the coaching staff and the Penn State defense wish Moore was able to play on Saturday because he is a special talent. Last season as a freshman Moore scored 12 receiving touchdowns and had 1258 receiving yards. He also scored two more touchdowns on the ground. Before his injury this season, Moore had 387 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Hopefully, he makes a speedy recovery for Purdue.
Keys to Success Against Injury Plagued Purdue
So far this season the Penn State defense has seen many different players step up and make plays when it counted. That will be no different on Saturday. Now that the Nittany Lions are in Big Ten play, they cannot take any opponent lightly. This starts with the defensive line. Getting penetration and getting to the quarterback is key for Penn State on Saturday. The redshirt freshman quarterback, Jack Plummer, already has four interceptions through two games this season, but he also has three touchdowns.
Look for Parsons to make an immediate impact on Homecoming, especially since he barely got to play last week. Also, expect to hear more from Yetur Gross-Matos and John Reid this weekend. Both were relatively quiet against Maryland. Gross-Matos did have five tackles and two for loss. Maybe he got lost in the shuffle because the announcers didn’t know his name for the entire first half? Regardless, the Penn State defense and the team, in general, will likely keep the momentum from Maryland going against Purdue on Saturday.