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PSU Defense Shuts Down EMU

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He had always played strong safety, but Stephen Obeng-Agyapong moved to outside linebacker when Mike Hull sat out against Eastern Michigan. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.
He had always played strong safety, but Stephen Obeng-Agyapong moved to outside linebacker when Mike Hull sat out against Eastern Michigan. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Penn State’s defense has allowed just two drives of more than 35 yards in two games.

That’s pretty damn good.

The Nittany Lions also allowed just four plays of 10 yards or more against Eastern Michigan, three of them runs and one pass. I could go on, but it would eventually dilute just how good this defense was.

Defensive Line: B+

Defensive end Deion Barnes hasn’t recorded his first sack yet. The small defensive end still impacted on the game. He pressured the quarterback three times and funneled ball-carriers inside to the defensive tackles. Grade: B-

DaQuan Jones has the whole of FBS on high alert. He will decimate everyone in his path. Just incredible. Jones has his miscues, occasionally beating an offensive lineman so bad that he takes himself out of the play. He had seven tackles, three for a loss, was in on two sacks and hit the quarterback three more times. Grade: A

Kyle Baublitz has competition at defensive tackle, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Baublitz is playing poorly by any measure. He recorded three tackles and got a hit on the quarterback. His game wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t do anything particularly bad either. Grade: B

Defensive tackle Austin Johnson is coming on strong and poses a threat to Baublitz. Well, sort of. O’Brien has started using his second and third defensive tackles in a rotation, keeping them fresh every time they’re on the field. Johnson ended the game with three tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hit. Grade: B+

CJ Olaniyan dominated Eastern Michigan’s offensive line like Barnes should have. He finished the game with four tackles, two for a loss, a sack and three quarterback pressures. However, he also took himself out of two running plays to his side by not containing. Grade: A-

Anthony Zettel, defensive end, didn’t actually a record tackle, but what he did do in limited playing time was impressive. He pressured the quarterback three times, one time forcing the quarterback into a sandwich sack between Jones and Johnson, and defended a pass. Grade: B+

Brian Gaia was the last defensive tackle to get playing time in the last few possessions of the game. He finished with one tackle and one quarterback pressure in very limited playing time. Grade: B

Linebackers: A-

There wasn’t an offensive line in the country that could have stopped Glenn Carson in this game. He swarmed the Eagles offense and made nine tackles, three for a loss and one sack. He made every play that he possibly could. Unreal. Grade: A+

Outside linebacker Nyeem Wartman improved immensely in his second career start, recording four tackling and defending two passes. He did, however, take himself out of two run plays. Grade: A-

Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, typically the team’s fifth defensive back and backup strong safety, played outside linebacker for the injured Mike Hull and looked good doing it. This is what happens when you only have six linebackers under scholarship. Obeng-Agyapong, all 205 pounds of him, got manhandled at times, but also made four tackles. Grade: B

Defensive Backs: B-

Jordan Lucas has an unparalleled intensity. The great thing? He knows how to harness it and still play under control. He played one pass poorly, which luckily ended in an incompletion, but also made four tackles and one for loss. Grade: B+

Trevor Williams played a quiet, solid game at cornerback. He recorded a tackle, defended a pass and was never out of position. He just needs to work on shedding blocks on the outside. Grade: B+

Free safety Malcolm Willis didn’t get much action, because Eastern Michigan didn’t try to throw deep. He finished the game with two tackles and overpursued on two more tackle opportunities. Grade: B-

Strong safety Adrian Amos played a lot in the box and his five tackles show that. He did miss a tackle and took himself out of one more run stop. Grade: B-

Backup free safety Ryan Keiser had limited playing time. He recorded one tackle, but missed another. Grade: C-