September 29, 2012 at 7:27 PM
After shutting out another opponent in the first half, Penn State has now given up a total of just nine points in the first half of its first five games.
The defense’s ability to get off the field allowed the Nittany Lions to jump out to an early 21-0 lead and ultimately give up just seven points in the team’s win.
The linebackers led the way with nine tackles from both Glenn Carson and Gerald Hodges, and two interceptions from Michael Mauti.
Coach Bill O’Brien said the defense, which gave up only 74 yards on the ground and 366 yards overall, has improved immensely from the first game of the year.
“They play well as a unit. They communicate really well,” O’Brien said. “They tackle well for the most part. I think they’re making plays on the ball a little better than they were earlier in the year. They’re doing a decent job on third downs.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the biggest improvement for the defense has been its performance on third downs.
After preventing Illinois from converting a third down until half way through the third quarter, the defense ultimately allowed the Illini to convert on just four out of 15 third down attempts.
Quarterback Matt McGloin said the preparation the defensive players put into the week of practice allowed them to shine on Saturday.
“The way those guys play, they’re constantly on the same page as each other,” McGloin said.
“We have to do our job and we know not too many offenses are going to score a lot on them.”