Nittany Lion D-Line Impresses the Eagles

It'll be strength vs. strength when the PSU defense takes on the BC offense in the Pinstripe Bowl. Eagle QB Tyler Murphy and C Andy Gallick discuss the matchup.

QB Tyler Murphy On The Penn State Defense

BRONX, N.Y. -- Something's got to give when Penn State faces Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl here Saturday, especially when the Eagles' offense is on the field.

The Nittany Lions lead the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 84.8 yards per game. BC, meanwhile, lives and dies by the run, and checks in at No. 13 nationally in rushing offense with 251.8 yards per game.

Running the show for the Eagles is senior quarterback Tyler Murphy, who leads the team in rushing (89.9 ypg) and passing (127.2 ypg). The first-year transfer from Florida, who in less than a full season has already set a program record for career rushing yards by a QB (1,079), said his crew is excited about the strength vs. strength matchup.

“It's a challenge that we're really looking forward to and I'm sure they're looking forward to it as well,” Murphy said. “It's just one of those games where you have to strap your chinstrap up a little tighter and really just go out there and have fun. Because it's gonna be a challenging game. It's gonna be tough, it's gonna be competitive. But as a college football player, this is something you look forward to.”

Added center Andy Gallick: “The two teams are just traditional tough, physical powers from the Eastern side of the country that always have bloodbath kind of games. Everybody plays with a little more of a chip on their shoulder. It's gonna be exciting.”

Gallick, a second-team All-ACC pick, believes the key to Penn State's defense is a front four that has played with strong gap integrity most of the season.

“They have some really big-body guys up front and they're really good with their technique,” he said. “A lot of stuff that they do makes their linebackers look really, really good. It's kind of the way their defense is built. They hold their gaps and the linebackers kind of play off of that.

“They're really explosive guys, they're tough, they're physical.,” he added. “They're great with their hands, they're quick on their feet.”

However, Gallick was quick to note, “But it's not anything we haven't seen already this year. We've gone against a lot of good defensive lines.” He believes PSU's defensive line most resembles that of Florida State, a team against which BC rushed 51 times for 240 yards and a score in a tighter-than-expected 20-17 loss.

Statistically, however, Penn State is more like Louisville, which ranks third nationally in rushing defense (93.7 ypg). The Eagles managed only 166 rushing yards (on 43 carries) in a 38-19 loss to the Cardinals.

Regardless, every opponent BC faced in the regular season schemed to stop the run and most struggled. Having already dealt with a variety of such tactics should work in the Eagles' favor come Saturday, in Murphy's view.

“We've seen a lot of different defenses throughout the year,” he said. “We expect them to have a few wrinkles up their sleeves, especially being a bowl game -- they have a month to prepare. We haven't see the exact same defenses as Penn State (runs), but we've seen some similarities in stuff with teams we've played before.”

Both Eagles believe this battle will be less about strategy and more about toughness.

“We feel like we have to win the battle up front,” Murphy said. “We have a very good offensive line, and they have a very good defensive line. When you play a physical style, the game is won in the trenches. We feel like it's gonna be important that we move the (chains). And it's gonna be important that as running backs and quarterbacks, when we do have the ball and run, we have to do a good job of staying on our tracks, reading our blocks, accelerating and hitting holes, and making sure guys are blocking downfield.”

Added Gallick: “We think that being mentally tough and physically tough can help us get through a lot of times of adversity. If things aren't going well in a game, that's where the toughness training kicks in. And you see that a lot from the guys at Penn State. I've seen it on film. Guys are always battling throughout the whole entire game. You kind of feel like their motors never die down at all.”

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