Penn State aware MSU tough on run
Nittany Lions vow to continue balanced attack, despite prowess of Spartans’ D
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.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley figures to be up against it facing the nationally ranked Michigan State Spartans defence in NCAA football action Saturday.