Penn State football: 3 players who could have a breakout game in the Peach Bowl

Most of the same Nittany Lions from the regular season will be on the field in Atlanta, but these players who were buried on the depth chart may get a chance to shine on Saturday.

Penn State defensive end Amin Vanover (15)
Penn State defensive end Amin Vanover (15) / Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Amin Vanover. 491. . Junior. Amin Vanover. player. Vanover. DE. . 6'4", 265 lbs

We have to start with the one opt-out and who will take up those snaps. Obviously, former five-star Dani Dennis-Sutton will be the starter opposite Adisa Isaac on Saturday, but Dennis-Sutton doesn’t qualify for a potential breakout considering he played more snaps than Robinson this season and equalled his 26 QB pressures. 

Amin Vanover however, is in a spot where his snap count will be elevated and he could show out. Penn State will need to determine whether Zuriah Fisher, who posted 13 pressures and two sacks in 192 snaps this season, or Vanover who recorded 16 pressures and two sacks in 116 snaps will be Dennis-Sutton’s primary counterpart next year. 

My vote is for the 6-foot-4 270-pound junior who wears No. 15. Vanover did not have much impact against the run this year with only four stops and six total tackles. However, Penn State is Linebacker U for a reason. Abdul Carter and Dominic DeLuca can take care of the run game, I want an edge that can heat up the opposing quarterback and that’s Vanover. 

Vanover hasn’t recorded a sack since Week 5, but on the season he’s played 57 pass-rush snaps and has recorded 16 pressures, which comes out to a pressure rate of 28% which is absurdly high. For reference, Chop Robinson posted a 17.5% pressure rate this season and Isaac, who led the team in pressures, was at 15.7%. 

Ole Miss finished the season 16th in rushing attempts and 77th in pass attempts, so Vanover will need to play much better against the run to stay on the field, but if he can survive on those downs, then he’ll dominate on passing downs and get after Jaxson Dart.