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Penn State’s Secondary Shows Maturity In Bounce-Back Win Over Indiana

Getting a win coming off of a loss is important. Dominating off a loss is impressive.

Following a crushing 44-31 loss to Ohio State last week, the Nittany Lions went to Indiana trying to avoid consecutive losses for the fifth time in the previous five seasons.

Despite giving up 354 passing yards to Ohio State only one week earlier, Penn State’s secondary learned from previous mistakes and shut down Indiana’s passing offense in the team’s dominant 45-14 win this past weekend. This win set an important precedent for a group that was just finding its footing over the last few weeks.

Despite the brutal result, Penn State only allowed 145 passing yards in its 41-17 loss to Michigan, the lowest number of yards allowed this season before heading into Bloomington. The team continued in stride against Minnesota, only allowing 175 passing yards at home in the White Out.

That was all before giving up 354 passing yards to Ohio State the following week, 128 of which came in the fourth quarter. After a critical loss to the Buckeyes, a dominant win against Indiana would be crucial to stay composed and right the ship. That’s exactly what the Nittany Lions did.

The secondary showed out in epic fashion on Saturday, enforcing a no-fly zone at Memorial Stadium by allowing only 131 passing yards between the Hoosiers’ three quarterbacks. That’s the fewest number of passing yards the Nittany Lions have given up this season.

Having clearly learned from its mistakes and grown as a unit, the group also showed extreme poise. This ability to develop after a loss could be a difference-maker for the program moving forward, and the difference between a 7-5 season and a 10-2 season.

“I feel like we have the best corner room in the country,” cornerback Kalen King said after Saturday’s game. “Going against competition like [Ohio State] prepares us for games like this.”

Penn State’s front seven was also put consistent pressure on the quarterback throughout the game, allowing only 196 total yards of offense. With constant pressure on the quarterback, the secondary was opportunistic in its ability to force turnovers. One such play was King’s first career interception.

“We started out the game and [the defensive line] was very disruptive. They were making a lot of plays on the quarterback,” King said. “We knew it was gonna be a long game for the quarterback — the ball had to come out quick. I just took that and used that to my advantage.”

This ability to assess and capitalize shows just how far the secondary has matured over the course of the season. Instead of playing rattled after a loss to Ohio State or panicking after giving up an early touchdown, the defense kept its cool and shut down the Hoosiers.

The group finished the game with three total interceptions, two of which came from the secondary. Daequan Hardy’s interception, the last of the three, set the team up for a relatively easy scoring opportunity.

Defensive end Chop Robinson attributed the defense’s success to the players’ ability to learn from the film before the game but also to adapt during the game by communicating with one another on the sidelines.

“After every drive, we always come back to the sideline, talk to each other as a group, figure out what they’re doing, see what keys we can get off on,” Robinson said.

After successfully defending three different quarterbacks over the course of the game on Saturday, it’s clear that the secondary has grown in its ability to adjust during the game and shake off a loss.

While Penn State likely isn’t headed to the College Football Playoff this season, the defense’s improved ability to correct mistakes within the week and avoid consecutive losses is a necessary skill to maintain composure and make a run at a New Year’s Six bowl game.

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About the Author

Mikey DeAngelis

Mikey DeAngelis is a sophomore majoring in film production, working in his role for Onward State as a social media editor and photographer. He is also the creator of the Mad About Disney YouTube channel and an aspiring filmmaker. Mikey loves Philly sports, traveling and hiking in National Parks, and watching movies. To reach Mikey, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@mikey_deangelis) or by email ([email protected]).

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