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Tackling Remains Penn State’s Biggest Weakness

When Penn State increased its fourth quarter lead over Ohio State to 12 points, the team needed just one defensive stop to secure another program-altering victory over the Buckeyes. Sweet Caroline started blasting through Beaver Stadium’s speakers, and I, along with most of the other 110,888 fans at the game, thought the Nittany Lions had the game in the bag.

Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeye offense proceeded to shred through Penn State’s defense on consecutive possessions to win, using mostly screens and other short routes. This, once again, highlighted perhaps the team’s greatest weakness: tackling.

Despite all the magical plays Trace McSorley made Saturday night, it was these two plays made by Buckeye receivers that I will never, no matter how hard I try, be able to forget.

If you think the game-winning score by KJ Hill was bad, you might not want to relive this play by Binjimen Victor a few minutes earlier.

James Franklin commented on the tackling postgame, saying his defense didn’t do a good job of handling Ohio State’s most athletic players when they found open space on those screen passes.

Tackling has been an issue for this defensive unit all year long, and many assumed the Buckeyes would be able to dominate because of that. However, the defense came to play for three-and-a-half quarters before falling apart in the final eight minutes.

Once again, tackling issues put this team in a situation where the offense needed to step up, but they were unable to bail them out like they previously had against lesser opponents. 

“The reality is, if we could just get guys down on the ground and just fight another down, another series, we got a shot,” Franklin said, “but you can’t give up those huge plays for touchdowns at the end of the game.”

Franklin mentioned needing some “erasers” to step up on defense who can make big plays in big spots last week. Although we saw a solid overall performance by the secondary for three quarters, missed tackles from that group late in the game ultimately costed the Nittany Lions a signature victory under White Out conditions.

Moving forward, it will take several complete defensive performances to keep the Nittany Lions conference and national title dreams alive.

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About the Author

Brian Bachman

Brian Bachman is a freshman in the school of communications and a contributor at Onward State. He is from northern Virginia but fell in love with Penn State a few years ago and knew after his first visit he wanted to come here. If you are a fan of the SUPER BOWL 52 CHAMPION PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (!!!) or sports in general, follow him on twitter @brianbachman_. Email is [email protected].

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