Penn State Football’s Defense Frustrates Delaware In Blowout Victory
It looks like it was just first-game jitters after all.
Last week, Penn State’s interior defensive line gave up 146 rushing yards against a West Virginia team that struggled in every other facet of its performance. Against Delaware, that same defense gave up just 140 total yards in the Nittany Lions’ 63-7 win over the Blue Hens.
James Franklin praised his defense for allowing Delaware little productivity on offense. Delaware only crossed the 50-yard line twice during Saturday’s contest, scoring a touchdown on a long run and reaching the Penn State 29-yard line before missing a field goal attempt. And in a first half where the Blue Hens scored on a 66-yard touchdown, Delaware finished with 65 total rushing yards.
“I thought we played really well,” Franklin said after the game. “We had that one play where we were not gap-sound. The ball found that gap.”
That 66-yard touchdown stuck out. It was the only play on defense that Franklin took issue with. That standard applied to the rest of the Nittany Lions.
“It’s really not going to happen,” safety Keaton Ellis said. “We’re gonna watch the tape and learn from that.”
Outside of the touchdown, Franklin’s defense was near-perfect. Penn State’s front seven shut down the run game on early downs and forced Delaware to look to the air on long-yardage third downs, where there was nowhere for starting quarterback Ryan O’Connor to go. Penn State’s secondary allowed only 58 yards through the air on Saturday, with 28 of those yards coming on one play early in the fourth quarter.
Penn State erased any doubt about the middle of the defensive line after a sound performance defending the run and making Delaware’s pocket disappear. It tore through Delaware’s offensive line, recording seven tackles for loss and four sacks. The defensive effort culminated in a 26-yard pick-six from co-captain Dom DeLuca. In all, the Blue Hens held the ball for just shy of 18 minutes.
The Nittany Lions’ play was a bump from what they had done against West Virginia. Still, the team isn’t letting itself take its eye off the ball.
“We’re gonna keep going up,” sophomore defensive tackle Zane Durant said. “I feel like we still have more room for progress and we’re gonna keep working at it.”
During the second half, Franklin took the opportunity to put his second and third-team players in the game to get meaningful snaps. Safeties King Mack, Mehki Flowers, and cornerback Elliot Washington II all saw action on Saturday, combining for five tackles. Franklin’s depth swap came early in the action as well — not one Nittany Lion recorded more than four total tackles on a night when the entire defense combined for 31.
“It’s a great aspect we got to our defense,” veteran safety Jaylen Reed said. “A lot of the teams that have won big-time games and had big-time seasons, they have a lot of depth. I’m proud of us.”
“We are real big on toughness on the defense,” Reed added. “It really makes this team the most competitive team in football.”
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