This week’s questions from Adam Collyer at Black Shoe Diaries
BSD: The “Bend-But-Don’t-Break” defense is supposed to prevent the big play and force the opposition to put together a long, mistake-free drive if it wants to score. Last week against Purdue, the Nittany Lion defense did the opposite, giving up multiple plays of 20 yards or more while forcing drive killing turnovers. What was the reason for that difference – a shift in defensive philosophy or just uncharacteristic breakdowns?
WFY: I don’t think the defensive philosophy shifted (aside from less blitzing than the previous week), I think the Boilermakers were just more successful than many teams have been against the Nittany Lions defense getting the big play. It just worked out that Purdue played a higher risk, higher reward offense and Penn State got a bunch of turnovers out of it. It was an atypical game, but ultimately, the defense bent but didn’t break.
BSD: Silas Redd has gained 100 yards or more in each of the last three games. Last year, he rushed for 131 yards and an eye popping 11.9 yards per carry against Northwestern. Do you expect a repeat performance this week?
WFY: I think expecting any back to average almost 12 yards a carry is foolish. I’m all for Redd averaging that much, but if he averages half that, I’ll be pretty happy. The biggest concern is that they don’t give him so many carries, they need to keep him under 25 and give Curtis Dukes about 10 carries.
BSD: Dan Persa is still Northwestern’s best offensive weapon. How do we make sure we contain him?
WFY: Everything I have heard about Dan Persa this season is that he’s still recovering from his ACL injury and not as mobile as last year. So, I think PSU needs to blitz him early with Gerald Hodges and test Persa’s mobility. If he’s not mobile, send Hodges often. I don’t know if Persa can be rattled much, but even if they don’t hit him, making him run is going to wear him out.
BSD: In our Indiana Roundtable, we wondered whether Nate Stupar could keep up the frenetic pace set by Mike Mauti. How do you feel Stupar’s played since returning to the starting lineup? Has the defense missed a beat?
WFY: Nate Stupar has really impressed me this season. I knew he would be solid, but he’s been all over the place since Mauti got hurt. I think Stupar has played his way into a NFL training camp if he keeps this up. I do not think the defense has missed Mauti yet, but there will probably be a game this season when they do.
WFY: A prominent player’s mother will be shown on television several times. Pat Fitzgerald will be mentioned as a possible successor to Joe Paterno. Penn State won’t come out flat. Matt McGloin will play fairly well against the Northwestern secondary, but still throw some passes that make over 140,000 dues paying alumni cringe. Rob Bolden will start, but be pulled early and thus continue to be humiliated. Penn State will win and cover, but it will be back and forth and decided in the 4th quarter. Penn State 27 Northwestern 19