NITTANY NOTES: Nickel 'Backer

In this exclusive report, Fight On State gives its two cents on how Penn State will buffalo opposing passing attacks.

On Tuesday, Penn State coach Joe Paterno confirmed what has been reporting throughout the preseason. Namely, his Nittany Lion defense has spent little to no time focusing on nickel coverage.

"We don't have a nickel back so far," he said. "We really don't. Our linebackers have been good."

One practice observer added to that comment, telling us, "You can put this group of 'backers up against any other unit in the country. They're aggressive. They're fast. They're smart and reckless. And they could end up being among the best Penn State has ever seen."

Fair enough, especially considering the Lions are breaking in four new starters in the secondary. But how are they using linebackers to try to shut down opponents in obvious passing situations?

For obvious passing situations, the staff has been leveraging that linebacker speed and talent with a 3-4 scheme. It sets up as follow:

Defensive Line

DE: Jared Odrick
NT: Ollie Ogbu
DE: Jack Crawford

Ogbu, who plays the one-technique tackle in the base 4-3 scheme, steps in as the nose tackle, while Odrick, who plays three-tech tackle in the base, moves out to play end opposite Crawford, who has been first-team end in the 4-3.

Odrick saw some reps at the defensive end position in Blue-White Game, albeit in a 4-3.

As one observer explained, "This front line has a lot of speed and power and is built to demand a lot of attention [from opposing offensive lines]."


OLB: Nate Stupar
ILB: Sean Lee
ILB: Josh Hull
OLB: Navorro Bowman

Basically, the staff shifts Lee from his outside position in the 4-3 to an inside position with Hull, who plays middle 'backer in the base set. Bowman stays on the strong side and Stupar comes in to man the weak side.

One observer point out that Lee, "knows the [inside] role well, and Stupar was an animal on special teams [last season]. He as the speed and nose for the ball to make plays outside. As Joe alluded too, this look gives a lot of options." is the exclusive home to the BEST content and community covering Penn State football.


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