Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Hoosiers ready for Nittany Lions’ defensive front

As coach of Penn State for the past 43 seasons, Joe Paterno has been around football long enough to understand the importance of never looking past an opponent.

“We’ve got a tough football game this week,” Paterno said. “Obviously, I haven’t spent much time looking at Michigan State, but I’ve looked at Indiana. Indiana has had some awfully tough luck – some of which was based on bad officiating.
“We may not be good enough for Indiana, but we’ll find out,” he said.

And while Paterno might not be sure of what to expect from the Hoosiers on
Saturday, IU has a good idea about the team they will take on in Beaver Stadium.

“They are a typical Penn State team in the sense that they are so well-balanced on offense – they can run it, they can throw it and have some great players,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “Defensively is probably their strength. When you look at the statistics and turn the film on, their front four is very, very good.”

The focal point for the Hoosiers on Saturday will be establishing their offensive attack from the opening kickoff.

But it won’t be easy.

Led by an all-upperclassmen set of linebackers in Navorro Bowman, Sean Lee and Josh Hull, Penn State ranks in the top 10 nationally in total defense. The Nittany Lions are the No. 1 team in the Big Ten for sacks, tackles for loss, scoring defense and passing defense.

A major threat on the defensive line is senior defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who has 36 tackles and leads the team with six sacks.

“They are athletic, they have guys who blitz well and I think their front seven is the strength of their team,” IU senior running back Bryan Payton said. “Getting through their front seven will be the key to the game. They are a force to be reckoned with.”

The Nittany Lions also have the second-best offense in the conference.
Senior quarterback Daryll Clark has been efficient this season with 2,283 yards, 18 touchdowns and only eight interceptions in the air. He is second in the conference in passer rating, despite having his three starting wide receivers enter the season with 16 combined receptions in 2008.

Junior running back Evan Royster provides excellent speed and versatility that has caused problems for opposing defenses. He is second in the Big Ten with an average of 89.5 rushing yards per game.

IU freshman defensive tackle Larry Black said limiting Royster’s big play ability on Saturday is crucial.

“He’s not like the backs we faced last week as far as size and weight, but he is a back that is shifty and quick,” Black said. “We are going to have to stay after him. They like to pass the ball based off of the run.”   

While balanced on both sides of the ball, Penn State has shown it is beatable.

Last week on their home turf, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw two touchdowns and ran in another en route to a 24-7 win against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State did not score a point in the second half and had possession in the fourth quarter for 2:43.

In comparison, the Hoosiers had a breakout game against Wisconsin with 14 points in the fourth quarter of a 31-28 loss.

“We had a good second half offensively, so we have to build on that,” IU junior quarterback Ben Chappell said. “It’s all about execution. If we execute better, I think we will be fine.”

Get stories like this in your inbox