Scouting Penn State Defense, Special Teams

Penn State's defense is a lot like its offense in that it is a pretty straightforward group that tries to limit big plays, but doesn't make a ton of big plays either. On the year they are giving up 23 points a game, with 165 yards on the ground and 188 through the air. They've given up at least 21 points for eight straight games, winning four and losing four.

The inability to stop the run is Penn State's biggest issue as evidenced by the 165 yards and 4.5 per carry. The best guy on the line is right tackle Devon Still who is a big guy (6-5, 311) in the trenches and leads the team with four sacks. Left tackle Ollie Ogbu is quick off the ball and has 8.5 tackles for loss. The defensive ends are decent size, but not significant factors. Left end Pete Massaro (8 TFL, 3.5 sacks) is the better of the two.

Penn State has long carried the nickname "Linebacker-U" and they have a couple of good ones in middle linebacker Chris Colasanti and outside linebacker Nate Stupar. Colasanti leads the team with 102 tackles and Stupar is next with 72. Both will shoot gaps and make tackles for losses.

The secondary is careful and not very disruptive. They lost their best player, safety Nick Sukay at mid season. He had three interceptions in the first six games and still leads the team in that category. The strong safety (the call the position "hero") Drew Astorino has 68 tackles while cornerback D'Anton Lynn has a couple of interceptions. Penn State is allowing opponents to complete almost 62 percent of their passes for 19 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. The only reason they allow less than 200 yards through the air is that they give up 165 on the ground.

In all this is just an okay defense. The Gators have faced several better units. I expect them to crowd the line of scrimmage against the Gators and care Florida to beat them through the air as FSU and South Carolina did quite effectively. Florida's QB play is the key, as usual.

Penn State special teams ----

Penn State's Chaz Powell has one return for a TD, but averages right around 20 on his other 20 returns. Stephfon Green is also back there but is not a home run hitter. Their kickoff coverage has been solid and has not allowed a 50-yard return all year.

The Nittany Lions have not mustered much on punt returns, just 8.8 per return with a long of 25. Opponents have been less effective averaging 7.3 with a long of 30. Penn State does have one blocked punt.

The punter Anthony Fera has a solid 41.6 average on only 11 of his 43 boots have been returned. He has had 19 punts require a fair catch and 13 downed inside the 20.

The place kicker Collin Wagner is 19-24 on FG with a long of 49 yards and is perfect on 31 extra points.

The bottom line to this one is you have a pair of 7-5 teams going at it and they are teams with obvious strengths and weaknesses. Penn State will try to get its running game going and hit play action passes. Florida, depending on its QB at the moment will try and exploit the weak Nittany Lions run defense.


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