Blue White Illustrated

February 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 29 of 67

3 0 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 2 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Even with an extensively overhauled lineup and a new coordinator running the show, Penn State's defense will be looking to make plays in the backfield in 2022 T here's a reason why Brent Pry is now the head football coach at Virginia Tech. Penn State played some pretty good defense and produced its share of elite players during Pry's six years as the team's defensive coordinator, including this past year when the Nittany Lions tied for sixth in the FBS in points allowed at 17.31 per game. With its offense scuffling, Penn State asked a lot of its defense during the 2021 season. The Lions gave up ground, ranking fifth in the Big Ten in yards allowed (352.2 per game), but they had a habit of toughening up near the end zone, as evidenced by their opponents' modest scoring average. This coming year, Penn State's offense has a chance to be better. Indeed, the offense may have to be better, because the defense has lost a lot. Of the seven players who started all 12 regular-sea- son games in 2021, five are gone. Also gone is middle linebacker Ellis Brooks, who started 11 games. And the list of list of offseason departures includes Pry, who was succeeded by former Miami (Fla.) head coach Manny Diaz. James Franklin said that despite the turnover in per- sonnel, he's hoping that Diaz's philosophical approach will help smooth the transition, since the Lions won't be having to make a schematic overhaul. The idea, he said, was to find someone who was already in align- ment with Penn State's system "so that you're not starting all over with a completely different scheme. The current players on our roster had some concerns and question marks there, and then obviously the recruits as well." M AT T H E R B | M AT T @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Loss Leaders Loss Leaders

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