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Penn State Football’s Defense Flexes Depth Against Maryland With Notable Stars Injured

Defensive end Chop Robinson made the trip to College Park, Maryland, with the rest of the team. Robinson stretched with the team. Robinson even suited up and warmed up in pads with the team, but when game time arrived, the defensive star watched Penn State football’s 51-15 victory emotionally from the sideline.

Robinson was listed as out on the team’s availability report after he left the Ohio State contest with an injury and didn’t play against Indiana a week ago. James Franklin said that Robinson made the trip from a rehab standpoint and warmup reps were just to help the Maryland native stay fresh.

“There are certain things when you have certain injuries that you have to do to work back and be able to get back onto the field,” Franklin said. “Being able to get him out and to run him and be able to get some movement stuff without any contact is part of his protocol to come back.”

The rest of the team took notice of Robinson’s dismay and made sure to let him know his presence was being felt even though he wasn’t on the field.

Linebacker Abdul Carter had a career day on Saturday, recording four solo tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss along with a pass breakup that was almost an interception. Even while playing his best game of the season, Carter felt for Robinson.

“We talk all the time on the sidelines,” Carter said. “He always wants to be out there. Chop’s just one of those guys.”

Last week, the defense was also without Robinson and fellow defensive end Amin Vanover after he was listed as questionable on the report. The defensive line struggled without the pair, giving up 80 rushing yards to an Indiana team that has a notoriously underpowered rushing game. This week, the defensive line excelled, holding the Terps to -2 sack-adjusted rushing yards.

Everyone on Manny Diaz’s squad was involved in the backfield onslaught that occurred Saturday. Two safeties and two cornerbacks recorded tackles for loss along with eight different linemen and linebackers also notching tackles in the backfield.

“They had a hard time running the ball today,” Franklin said. “Where they get their run game is really in their screen game and we knew that. It just wasn’t overly effective.”

The Terps are a traditionally pass-heavy team, and Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw the ball 39 times during the loss for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the high numbers, the Penn State secondary bounced back from the past two games that didn’t go to plan.

Cornerback Daequan Hardy has been becoming more of a presence in the Penn State secondary but only recorded a tackle and a half tackle for loss in Saturday’s matchup. Despite his limited impact, Hardy feels this game was great for momentum moving forward.

“Coming off giving up a few scores last week I feel like we responded well,” Hardy said. “This is a pretty good offense, but we just did our thing tonight.”

The stifling showing from the Nittany Lions only reaffirms what Franklin has been preaching all season — his team has depth. Defensive ends Dani Dennis-Sutton and Adisa Isaac stepped up in place of the injured linemen, but freshman Jameial Lyons also saw game action and received praise from Franklin postgame.

The depth that led to the dominant showing hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Carter believes that taking away the ability to run the ball without key talent played a large part in the dominant victory.

“If the team can’t run the ball, they can’t win,” Carter said. “That’s what we did tonight, and the results paid off.”

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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