Just a week removed from missing a key sack at Rutgers, that led to a passing score right before halftime, Clark gave Michigan arguably its biggest play of the game when he sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg inside the PSU 3, that would force the Nittnay Lions to snap the ball out of the end zone for a safety on fourth-and-32 on the next play. And the U-M offense would run out the clock to seal the 18-13 win.
“When I seen him step to the left and his ball came down, I knew it was going to be a sack before I even got to him,” Clark said, who finished with a sack, two tackles for loss, and seven tackles in the win.
“You’re taught as a defensive lineman, you see that ball drop, he’s scrambling,” Clark said. “I seen him attempt to scramble. I got hands on him with these paws. You’re not going anywhere when you get these paws on you.”
With the Wolverines trailing 13-10 at halftime, Clark said he motivated himself to come out stronger in the second half after a self admitted “frustrating” first half performance.
“I was kind of frustrated on the first half,” Clark said. “They was doing a lot of things to keep me away from the quarterback. A lot of sliding to me and stuff like that. I just told myself at halftime, ‘Stay within your game plan. And keep doing what you practice in practice.’ You knew was going to happen, it happened all year. Just sticking to what my coaches teach me. And sticking to my game plan within myself. We got that accomplished.”
And the missed sack against Rutgers was even more added motivation heading into his game with PSU.
“Like I told you on Monday, 99 percent of the time I’m going to make that play.” Clark recalled of his missed sack opportunity at Rutgers. “It’s that one percent that happened against Rutgers that I didn’t make the play. And it killed me the whole week. It forced me to stay after practice. Just focus on getting to the ball and level enough to get to the quarterback. And using my momentum to get to the quarterback. When I did all that, all that hard work paid off.”
The win serves as extra payback for U-M after losing a 43-40 4OT loss at Penn State last season. Which makes Saturday’s win an added bonus, Clark says.
“It felt good to finally finish the game,” Clark said. “You know we’ve been going through a lot of scrutiny as a team these last couple of weeks. Especially as a defense, it just feels good. Our last opponent we were unable to finish the game after the game was put on our back. And just to get them back, they got us last year. Hackenberg is a great quarterback. He won the game for them last year, driving them down the field. It felt good to cut that short and get that W tonight.”