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Thread: Penn State: Defense faces a big challenge vs Northwestern

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    Default Penn State: Defense faces a big challenge vs Northwestern

    Penn State: Defense faces a big challenge

    Saturday, November 06, 2010
    By Ron Musselman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa has completed 74.4 percent of his passes, which ranks second in the country.UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still looks at Dan Persa's completion percentage and shakes his head.

    The Northwestern quarterback is completing 74.4 percent of his passes, which ranks second in the country.

    "That means he is an accurate quarterback," Still said. "If we can get in his face, then we can disrupt him and have him think more than he has been thinking all season."

    The problem is Penn State's defense has produced just nine sacks through eight games. The Nittany Lions are on track for their lowest output since Larry Johnson became the defensive line coach in 2000.

    Penn State (5-3, 2-2) has managed just two sacks in the past four games entering today's matchup against Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) at Beaver Stadium.

    Still leads the way with three sacks. Defensive end Pete Massaro and outside linebacker Nate Stupar have two each for the Lions, who will try to get Joe Paterno his 400th career coaching victory today.

    The lack of sacks puzzles Still, especially after Penn State had 37 a year ago.


    Scouting report
    Game: Penn State (5-3, 2-2) vs. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2), 3:30 p.m. today, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions are favored by 6.

    TV, radio, Internet: WTAE; WEAE-AM (1250) and Penn State Sports Network;

    Penn State: WR Brett Brackett had 17 career receptions entering the season but has 27 for 378 yards and 3 TDs this year. ... Is 10-3 vs. Northwestern. ... OLB Michael Mauti had a career-high 10 tackles vs. Michigan. ... Has won 37 of its past 42 home games.

    Northwestern: WR Jeremy Ebert leads with 42 catches for 678 yards, 7 TDs. ... Is 6-1 the past two seasons in November. ... K Stefan Demos has made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts and 20 of 23 PATs.

    Hidden stat: Northwestern is 8-2 in Big Ten road games the past three seasons.

    "I am not sure why that is, but we're trying to find out and work on that so that we can get production up," he said.

    Two starters, defensive ends Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, have been slowed by injuries. Crawford (foot) has missed the past three games and Latimore (wrist) the past two.

    Another defensive end, Sean Stanley, was suspended two games after being charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. He started once this season.

    Consequently, in the past three games, Penn State's defense has surrendered 1,293 yards of offense, including 649 yards rushing. The Lions also have allowed six passing touchdowns and three rushing -- all to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

    "We're just working on being disciplined," Still said.

    Penn State will need to be disciplined against Persa, a former standout from Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa.

    He has completed 174 of 234 passes for 2,062 yards. He has tossed 12 touchdown passes and three interceptions. Persa also has run for a team-leading 360 yards and six touchdowns.

    He was not heavily recruited by Penn State, although he attended many games at Beaver Stadium with his mom and older sister, who are graduates of the school.

    "We looked at him and for some reason or other, maybe we decided there was somebody else around that would be a little bit better, I don't know," Paterno said. "But he certainly has become one of the better quarterbacks in the country."

    Persa's parents have rented a tour bus and will make the three-hour drive from Bethlehem to Beaver Stadium with 55 people on board. Other family and friends will follow in a motor home.

    A 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt junior, Persa entered last year's game in Evanston, Ill., after starter Mike Kafka injured his leg. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 115 yards and had 42 yards rushing on 14 carries in a 34-13 loss to the Lions.

    Persa, who was cleared to play after suffering a concussion against Indiana last weekend, said he doesn't hold any animosity toward Paterno or Penn State for snubbing him in the recruiting process.

    "Once you get into proving people wrong, you kind of just get yourself in trouble," Persa said. "I play for my coaches, my players and the people around me -- not the people who said I couldn't do stuff."

    Meanwhile, Rob Bolden is expected to get the call at quarterback for Penn State over former walk-on Matt McGloin.

    Bolden was knocked out of the Oct. 23 game at Minnesota in the second quarter with a concussion and sat out against Michigan as McGloin made his first career start.

    The quarterback situation will take a back seat to the biggest story of the day: Paterno is attempting to become the first major college coach to reach 400 wins.

    "It would be amazing," McGloin said. "To be a part of coach Paterno's 400th win, if it happens this week, would be a great honor. We're going to be a team to be remembered.

    "Who was the quarterback? Who were the running backs? Who were all the players on the team that got coach Paterno his 400th win?"


    NOTES -- Penn State's Nov. 20 game with Indiana at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., will kick off at noon and be televised by the Big Ten Network. ... The starting time and television network for the Nov. 27 home game with Michigan State most likely will not be announced until Nov. 21.

    Ron Musselman:

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    Default Re: Penn State: Defense faces a big challenge vs Northwestern

    ****in unbelievable....PENN STATE gets 5 straight TD's.,........overcomes a 21-0 deficit and is now winning 35-21...........WE ARE....................PENN STATE.................WE ARE..................
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    Signature by Viz...and in memory of him, Bill Shanaberger 1939-2010

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