Heading into this season, there was a lot of talk surrounding the Penn State defense. Questions centered around how valuable starters from last season would be replaced. True, losing guys like Gerald Hodges, Michael Mauti, and Jordan Hill hurts, but so far, the 2013 team is continuing the long tradition of strong defense at Penn State.
Aside from having to replace key starters, 2012 defensive coordinator Ted Roof also had to be replaced. Defensive backs coach John Butler took control of the defense this season and has already done an outstanding job.
Depth issues on the defensive side caused several position changes, including moving two wide receivers, Trevor William and Malik Golden, to the secondary. Safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong has seen time at linebacker and former cornerback Adrian Amos has switched to safety.
Along with the position switches, the Nittany Lions have several players who are seeing significant action for the first time. Linebacker Nyeem Wartman, defensive back Jordan Lucas and defensive lineman Austin Johnson have all been impressive.
To date, the star of the defense has been defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. He’s been a major disruption to both opposing offenses so far. For the year, Jones has made 18 total tackles with two sacks. Fellow senior Glenn Carson has also been a pivotal part of the success. He’s made 16 tackles and led everyone with 10 tackles in Week 2 against Eastern Michigan.
Through two games, the Nittany Lions rank third in the Big Ten in both total defense and scoring defense. Penn State has given up an average of 221.5 yards per game and a total of just 12 points. The unit really made a name for itself in Week 2 by pitching a shutout against Eastern Michigan and holding the Eagles to just 183 total yards.
While most of the focus this year has been on Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State offense, the defense has quietly put together two solid performances. Defense has always been a big part of the game at Penn State and things don’t seem to be any different this season.
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