Temple quarterback Chris Coyer had a long afternoon Saturday, partly due to the play of C.J. Olaniyan.
A redshirt sophomore defensive end, Olaniyan made his first career start as Sean Stanley was unavailable against the Owls with a back injury. Olaniyan made four tackles — three of which came as he dragged Coyer to the ground — and also broke up a pass in Penn State’s second victory of the season.
“C.J. is a guy who works extremely hard in practice, another really good kid who is coached very well by [defensive line coach] Larry Johnson,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He had that tipped ball on the second to last drive which I thought was pretty neat, and set the edge in the running game pretty well. He played, from what I could see on the sideline, a tough, solid ballgame today.”
Olaniyan, who played in six games and made three tackles last season, said he found out Wednesday he would get the nod against Temple, but it didn’t really alter his preparations.
“Nothing really changed, I just knew I was going to be in on a lot more plays,” Olaniyan said. “I made sure I had to hydrate, get my body ready.”
The four tackles Olaniyan made doubled his season total and he made a few more plays in the flat to help Penn State’s defense limit Temple to just 247 yards of total offense. Penn State’s defense didn’t force any turnovers, but limited Coyer 124 passing yards and sacked the southpaw three times.
“I thought he did a great job. He was out there covering their No. 3 receiver in the flat,” senior linebacker Michael Mauti said. “…He’s a great athlete and each game that he plays, he’s getting more experience. I like playing with both [Olaniyan and Stanley], our front seven is really starting to come together.”
Penn State was also without defensive end Pete Massaro, who is dealing with shoulder issues. Massaro has had injury problems all year, but redshirt freshman Deion Barnes has filled in nicely in the other end spot, with nine tackles and three sacks in three starts.
The starting role for Olaniyan may very well be short-lived as coach Bill O’Brien said Stanley should be ready to play this weekend against Illinois. Stanley, a senior, made 11 tackles and recovered a fumble in the Lions’ first three games.
“We wanted to rest it because he was coming in every Sunday and it was flaring up,” O’Brien said about Stanley’s injury. “We felt like a week off would help him and get him ready for the Big Ten.”
Regardless of whether he’s in the starting lineup or not, Olaniyan will continue to see snaps. And he said he has room to grow in all aspects of his game.
“I missed a couple of opportunities, I see room for improvement,” Olaniyan said. “But overall, I thought [my performance] was pretty good.”