New Faces Boost Defense

Following a lackluster effort at Alabama, the Nittany Lions pitch a shutout vs. Kent State at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State's 24-0 shutout victory over Kent State may indicate the Nittany Lion defense dominated the opposition Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley felt otherwise.

“I don't think we dominated at all,” said Bradley. “There were a couple of plays we missed, runs we could have stopped. There are a lot of things we can do better.”

Despite their coach's less-than-effusive evaluation, the Penn State defenders felt they responded positively from last week's humbling defeat in Alabama.

“We had to come out here and show we're still in this after last week,” said junior safety Andrew Dailey, who saw his playing time increase when junior starter Drew Astorino missed a tackle and was pulled from the base defense. “It's all about getting better and winning the Big Ten championship now.”

Dailey was not the only Nittany Lion defender whose number was called more often than usual on Saturday. Sophomore defensive ends Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley started in place of Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, both of whom missed practice time during the week due to minor injuries.

Head coach Joe Paterno was pleased with the sophomore duo's performance.

“I think Massaro did well. I think he's going to be a good football player,” said Paterno. “I have to get Stanley a little more fire. He should be making more plays than he does. But, overall I think Massaro and Stanley did a good job.”

The new-look defense got off to a flying start when D'Anton Lynn recorded the Penn State defense's first takeway of the season, picking off Kent State quarterback Spencer Keith on the Golden Flashes' third play from scrimmage. Fellow cornerback Derrick Thomas would add a second interception right before halftime.

“We knew some people had to step up because we hadn't been creating those big plays,” said Lynn. “I'm not going to look at the (interception stats) though. As long as they didn't score, that's the only stat I really care about.”

The Nittany Lion defense elevated its performance in the second half, limiting Kent State to only four first downs in the game's final 30 minutes. The Golden Flashes did not record a gain of more than 14 yards during that time, a result that pleased the team's coaching staff.

Throughout the week Paterno focused on the defense in practice, demonstrating how the players should be tackling. Although the coach didn't take anyone down, the message was made loud and clear to Massaro.

“He was doing it to make the point that if he can do it at his age, we should, too,” said Massaro.

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