Michigan’s Defensive Coordinator Thinks About Penn State Loss ‘Every Morning’

Penn State’s trip to Ann Arbor is still more than a week away, but Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown has had the matchup on his mind since the division foes met a year ago.

Brown appeared on the Inside Michigan Coach’s Radio Show Monday to discuss his unit’s big performance against Michigan State and look ahead toward its game against Penn State after a bye this weekend.

“They handed it to us last year. I did a poor job against them, and the players feel the same way,” Brown said. “I wake up every morning and think about it.”

At last year’s White Out, Penn State terrorized what had been a vaunted Michigan defense for 506 yards of offense. The game was a 42-13 win that turned into an absolute party of fans gawking at highlight reel plays and tasting the College Football Playoff on their lips. 

Trace McSorley threw for 282 yards and a touchdown in addition to running for 76 yards and three scores. Saquon Barkley also scored three touchdowns and amassed 176 all-purpose yards.

The onslaught was so bad that cameras for Amazon Prime’s All or Nothing caught quarterback John O’Korn saying “I’ve never seen our defense get torched like this,” after Barkley ran for this 42-yard-touchdown:

We’re not crying. You’re crying.

“You always want to have all your pieces, techniques, and fundamentals at your disposal for your players, and I’m not sure I provided that,” Brown said Monday. “We just want to understand what’s in front of us and then play fast.”

Fast forward one year and Penn State team is far from the juggernaut that exploded against Michigan for a statement win. The Nittany Lions have looked sluggish and confused as of late and are averaging 27 points per game during their last three games. Additionally, they’ll play the fifth-ranked Wolverines without some of the main cogs from last year’s high-octane offensive machine: Joe Moorhead, Barkley, and an actually reliable receiving corps led by Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton.

Comparatively, Brown’s defense has backed up the hype it entered Happy Valley with last fall. Led by linebacker Devin Bush, defensive end Chase Winovich, and cornerback Tyree Kinnel, the Wolverines have allowed the fewest yards per game in the nation and have held opponents to less than 24 points in every game this season.

After a full year of Don Brown ruminating over this game and two weeks to prepare for Penn State, next Saturday is already looking like a long day for Ricky Rahne’s vanilla playbook. 

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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