Saturday, October 17, 2009
Penn State defense stands tall in win
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Penn State's defense has flown under the radar because of a cushy schedule and some early struggles from the Nittany Lions offense.
But after today's 20-0 shutout against Minnesota, it's safe to say this unit is pretty darn good.
Penn State entered Saturday ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 10.2 points a game. That average dropped to 8.7 points after the Lions held an opponent scoreless for the first time since a 31-0 blanking of Temple in 2007.
Linebacker Sean Lee (sprained knee) returned to the field and cornerback A.J. Wallace turned in a huge performance for a defense that held Gophers star wideout Eric Decker to only one catch for 42 yards. Penn State still hasn't allowed a first-half touchdown all season.
Credit the Lions' offense for dominating possession time with running back Evan Royster and quarterback Daryll Clark, who continues to show why he's the Big Ten's best signal-caller. Wideout Derek Moye (6 catches, 120 yards) had a big day as Penn State held the ball for 37:59. The Lions were very balanced and piled up 464 total yards despite very lousy weather.
Minnesota's offense continues to be a problem, and it will be interesting to see where head coach Tim Brewster goes from here. He changed the offensive philosophy from the spread to a pro-style set, but the running game has been incredibly inconsistent this season, producing only 37 yards Saturday. Junior quarterback Adam Weber endured another rough day, and the calls for backup MarQueis Gray undoubtedly will increase in the Twin Cities.
Penn State's defense faces a much bigger test next week at Michigan, which leads the Big Ten in scoring (37.3 points per game).