Penn State’s defense got a lesson in speed from Central Florida - The Daily Collegian: Football

Logout|My Dashboard

Penn State’s defense got a lesson in speed from Central Florida

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Steven Petrella

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013 12:00 am

Penn State’s defense got a pop quiz in speed Saturday and failed. It couldn’t slow down Central Florida and quarterback Blake Bortles because it got limited pressure and were simply slower than the Knights through most of the first three quarters.

“We felt good going in that we knew what we had to do to stop them,” Penn State defensive coordinator John Butler said, “and to be honest with you, we couldn’t stop what we needed to stop — by scheme, coaches-wise and players.”

Blame, defensively at least, should be placed all across the board for the 34-31 loss. Penn State allowed touchdown drives of 89, 64 and 89 yards in the first half, so it seemed both coaches and players weren’t ready. The defense limited UCF to just 13 points in the second half and seemed better prepared after getting 15 minutes to adjust.

Safety Malcolm Willis and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones said Butler didn’t change much at halftime, minus a few minor adjustments. They stuck to their gameplan, but it didn’t come through until the fourth quarter.

“We tried everything,” Butler said. “That’s one thing I know I can say, we emptied the game plan. We tried to play man, we tried to play zone, we tried to play half-man, half-zone. They did a good job.”

Last season, Penn State prided itself on starting fast. The team outscored its opponents 97-20 in the first quarter. This season, it’s 14-14 in the opening quarter through three games.

That’s not a bad number, but when it comes down to it, 31 points and 455 yards of total offense at home should be enough to get Penn State past Central Florida. The slow start really doomed the Nittany Lions, as they were forced to play catch-up all night.

Cornerback Jordan Lucas equated the learning experience to an exam.

“Definitely I feel like it was a test for us, it’s just like in school,” Lucas said. “When you have that first test and you see something like it again on the final, you know the answer. I think it’s good that we saw this early.”

But the test Bortles gave Penn State’s defense was a difficult one, and he knew it. The redshirt junior quarterback played with a chip on his shoulder and had something to prove.

As Penn State closed the gap to seven in the fourth quarter, he never lost confidence.

“I knew we’d be alright. They hadn’t stopped us all night,” Bortles said. “The only way they stopped us was us stopping ourselves. We knew were fine. We just had to stay calm and get two first downs, and run the clock out.”

The unique thing about Penn State’s sanction years is that at the end of the day, a loss doesn’t kill any end of the season hopes. There’s no bowl game or conference title to contend for, so as long as the Nittany Lions get better as the season progresses and don’t repeat the same mistakes, there’s a positive to take away. They did it last season.

“If there's one thing people around here know about our players, it's that they've been through a lot worse than losing to Central Florida,” Butler said. “Their confidence is going to be shaken, like it always is after a loss. But they'll come back and like coach O’Brien said, put their nose to the grindstone, correct what we have to correct and move forward.”

More about

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Connect with us

Football Columns

My View: Title IX is a scapegoat for college football’s role in decline of NCAA men’s sports
Posted: March 05, 2014

In this article, I argue that Title IX is a scapegoat for the true culprit for the decline in men’s non-revenue sports: the exorbitant spending on football programs by schools which fruitlessly pursue a mirage of revenue.

Comments (0)
In the midst of uncertainty, Penn State needs stability — whether it's Bill O'Brien or his successor
Posted: December 31, 2013

If Penn State brass is out shopping for a new coach in the coming weeks (or days), its representatives need to identify who could also be using this job as a way to boost their personal brand.

Comments (7)
Penn State football: given ‘new normal’ in Happy Valley, 7-5 record even more impressive than 2012 results
Posted: December 02, 2013

There wasn’t a grand reveal to honor Penn State’s season on Senior Day, nor will there be a Maxwell Coach of the Year award waiting for coach Bill O’Brien come winter.

Comments (2)
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell unwise giving Penn State bulletin board material
Posted: November 18, 2013

Hazell thought earlier last week that Penn State’s running game wasn’t on par with Iowa and Wisconsin. Bill O’Brien proved otherwise.

Comments (0)
If Jameis Winston deserves the benefit of the doubt, so does the woman who said she was sexually assaulted
Posted: November 15, 2013

Media, fans and those pesky pundits are responding in a typical way — they’re perpetuating the idea that sexual assault can be the fault of the victim by blindly criticizing a typical 11-month investigation.

Comments (4)
In recruiting ratings, the analysts tab the five-stars, but lower than that? It’s shades of gray
Posted: November 14, 2013

Rating Division I football prospects is a serious business that garners a great deal of national attention. So we had to ask: are these ratings indicative of how a player will perform in college?

Comments (0)
Column: Penn State football once again shows down doesn’t always mean out
Posted: October 13, 2013

A Penn State win appeared hopeless at several points in Saturday’s game against Michigan. But resiliency once again led coach Bill O’Brien’s squad to victory.

Comments (0)
Lions face a gut check in Michigan
Posted: October 11, 2013

The second-year coach said this week it’d be crazy to think Saturday’s all-stadium White Out on ESPN at night is a normal contest.

Comments (0)
Penn State football isn’t perfect, and that’s OK
Updated: October 08, 2013 - 12:00 am

Yes, a Joe Paterno-coached team never lost to Indiana. And no, Penn State didn’t play or coach its best Saturday in a loss to the Hoosiers. But come on, Internet. Settle down.

Comments (0)
Penn State didn’t play horribly Saturday --- it just didn’t play complementary football in a loss to Indiana
Updated: October 08, 2013 - 2:17 pm

While football seems like a game distinctly separated into offense and defense, the two indirectly go hand-in-hand. The units aren’t on the field at the same time, but one affects the other in a major way.

Comments (0)