October 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Defensive line: B
Deion Barnes continues to thrive on the line in his first season of eligibility. He and Jordan Hill shared a sack Saturday against Northwestern. Defensive end Pete Massaro returned to the field for significant play, playing about 20 snaps and breaking up a pass.
Gerald Hodges played like a man "with his hair on fire" — a phrase coach Bill O'Brien coined on Sept. 18 to describe the way his coverage units played. He broke up two passes, forced a fumble, and made 1.5 tackles for loss. He led the Lions with 11 total tackles, earning him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Mauti followed up his record performance against Illinois with nine tackles. The linebacking corps helped contain Kain Colter on the ground, holding him to just 24 yards.
The defensive backs limited Northwestern's receivers to less than half of the receiving yards (135) of Penn State's (282). Cornerback Da'Quan Davis fell on a fumble forced by Hodges. Cornerback Adrian Amos was a non-factor with no tackles on defense.
Special Team: D+
Sam Ficken made another chip shot field goal, but went unused on potential kicks with even a little extra range. Alex Butterworth has shown gradual improvement as a punter, pinning three inside the 20 on Saturday. Nonetheless, he shanked one and overkicked another that resulted in a touchdown return by Venric Mark. Jesse Della Valle helped down a Butterworth punt at the 1-yard line, but fumbled a Northwestern in the punt in the next quarter that resulted in a Wildcat touchdown.