PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Countdown to Blue-White / 27 Days: Who Steps up on the Defensive Line?

The season finale Senior Day overtime victory against Wisconsin is one of the most satisfying and memorable games in recent Penn State football history, but it may never have happened if not for Jordan Hill.

The senior defensive tackle saved his best performance for last, recording 12 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. He helped hold Badgers running back Montee Ball to 25 yards on 11 carries in the second half after it looked like Ball was bound for a huge game when he finished the first thirty minutes with 85 yards on the ground.

For the past four years, Penn State entered a season with the luxury of having a stud defensive tackle. There was future first-round pick Jared Odrick in 2009, Devon Still in 2010 and 2011, and Hill last season. Now, that is no longer the case as the Nittany Lions look towards 2013.

Hill was the biggest loss along the defensive line but far from the only one as the Nittany Lions also need to replace the contributions of Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley, who both started at times last season, and rotational defensive tackle James Terry.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. knows he has Big Ten Freshman of the Year Deion Barnes, a budding superstar who led last year’s defense with 6 sacks. After Barnes, there are a lot of bodies, and a lot of question marks.

Senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones figures to have one of those spots locked up but will need to greatly increase his production, something Bill O’Brien believes he is capable of.

“We think [DaQuan] is a really good football player,” said O’Brien. “He’s had a really good offseason and is in good shape. He’s strong. We’re going to have to monitor his reps this spring because he’s played a lot of football here at Penn State, but we really have high expectations for him going into next year.”

Outside of Jones, there is senior Kyle Baublitz and three redshirt freshman in Austin Johnson,  Brian Gaia, and Derek Dowrey.

“We think Austin Johnson has a chance to be a really good player, hopefully sooner rather than later,” said O’Brien.

“Then we have Derek Dowrey and Brian Gaia, two guys who gave us a ton of problems on the Dirty Show last year. I remember Matt Stankiewitch last year after one of those practices, we were sitting around shooting the breeze, and I remember him saying that Gaia and Dowrey were strong guys that could hold the point of attack, and that was coming from an All-Big Ten center. That was pretty neat.”

Opposite Barnes at the other defensive end spot figures to be sophomore Anthony Zettel, who showed some promise with 4 sacks in 2012. Redshirt freshman Evan Schwan should also be in the mix along with incoming recruits Garrett Sickles, Curtis Cothran, and Parker Cothren if they do not redshirt.

While a decorated group of linebackers received much of the accolades and attention on defense last season, the contributions of numerous linemen were key. The Nittany Lions were 7-1 when not allowing an opposing player to eclipse 100 rushing yards and had a 6-2 record in contests where they registered 3 sacks or more.

“There’s not a lot there, but there’s enough there, and we just have to do a good job of rotating those guys in and out and make sure we get the young guys enough reps that they improve and progress,” said O’Brien.

There are a lot of names to choose from, but most have very limited experience and not much of track record.

Who is next in line along the defensive line, and are they up to the task of matching the production of a solid unit in 2012?

Under Johnson’s tutelage, a few of these young players should emerge. The Blue-White game and O’Brien’s first summer depth chart should provide a better idea of who and what to expect here.

This is the seventh in a 33-day series about the Penn State football program leading up to the Blue-White Game on April 20. We’ve put together a team of football writers who will examine a variety of topics and answer key questions about Bill O’Brien’s team. Click here for past installments in the series. 

About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

Comments

More by Drew

McGloin Named NFL Rookie of the Week

The former Penn State record setting quarterback took home Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors following his impressive first NFL start that resulted in a 28-23 win for the Oakland Raiders on the road against the Houston Texans.

Will Adrian Amos Play Some Snaps at Linebacker?

Willis and Carson Talk Differences Between Butler and Roof

Athletics

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Penn State Hockey’s Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie Participate In World Junior Summer Showcase

Ally McHugh Wins 400 Medley National Championship

Student Life

Penn State Parking Office Runs Into Student Permit Purchase Issues

Students were delayed hours on Tuesday afternoon while trying to purchase on-campus parking permits.

Girirajan Lab Seeks To Bridge The Gap Between Fly And Human Genomes

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Madden NFL 19 Ratings For Nittany Lions

For the second consecutive year, Sean Lee is the highest-rated Nittany Lion in the Madden video game.

Send this to a friend