Penn State aware MSU tough on run

Nit­tany Lions vow to con­tinue bal­anced at­tack, de­spite prow­ess of Spar­tans’ D

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - TRAVIS JOHN­SON

A bye week al­lowed Penn State play­ers to watch more film on their up­com­ing op­po­nent, but all view­ings showed the same thing: Michi­gan State stuffs the run and makes op­pos­ing teams one-di­men­sional.

“These guys are giv­ing up 33 yards per game run­ning,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “And I think the mis­take you make is when you’re play­ing a team like that is that you abort the run and go all pass.”

So the No. 8 Nit­tany Lions (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) will be pa­tient, Franklin said, when Michi­gan State (3-2, 1-1) brings its top-ranked rush­ing de­fence into Beaver Sta­dium on Satur­day where both teams will try stay in the chase in an East Di­vi­sion that’s get­ting crowded at the top.

No. 3 Ohio State and No. 12 Michi­gan are un­beaten in con­fer­ence play while the Nit­tany Lions and Spar­tans are com­ing off losses. Penn State quar­ter­back Trace McSor­ley is com­ing off his best rush­ing per­for­mance af­ter rack­ing up 175 yards on 25 car­ries against the Buck­eyes. But he handed off on a fourth-down play the Buck­eyes eas­ily stuffed to hand the Nit­tany Lions a one-point loss. McSor­ley’s ready again if de­signed quar­ter­back runs and scram­bling are what it will take to open Michi­gan State’s de­fence up.

“Their men­tal­ity that teams aren’t go­ing to run the ball against them, it’s given them the rush de­fence they’ve had over the last cou­ple years,” McSor­ley said. When Michi­gan State coach Mark Dan­to­nio looks at the num­bers, he doesn’t see a sec­ondary that’s strug­gling that badly con­sid­er­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs are be­ing forced to throw on av­er­age 44 times against the Spar­tans and are av­er­ag­ing just un­der eight yards per at­tempt. “The an­swer for that prob­a­bly is, they’ve hit some deep balls on us where deep ball judg­ment comes into play,” Dan­to­nio said. “And again, I go back to a game of inches.”

It’s also a game of bod­ies and the Spar­tans have lost a hand­ful. Cor­ners Josiah Scott and Scott Smith are out, leav­ing a thin group for Penn State to at­tack.

Michi­gan State quar­ter­back Brian Lew­erke threw for 400 yards and two touch­downs when these teams last met but could have a tougher time now. Penn State de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Brent Pry said he’s seen the de­fen­sive line im­prove each week and will get end Shane Sim­mons back into the ro­ta­tion. Sim­mons has been limited af­ter an un­spec­i­fied in­jury in camp.

CHRIS KNIGHT/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Penn State quar­ter­back Trace McSor­ley fig­ures to be up against it fac­ing the na­tion­ally ranked Michi­gan State Spar­tans de­fence in NCAA foot­ball ac­tion Satur­day.

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