Nittany Lions Clean Things Up In 44-13 Win Over Ball State
“I am a hybrid” said DE/LB Jesse Luketa after his monstrous, 4 tackles, 0.5 TFL, interception for touchdown, performance. The former starting LB has made a smooth and impactful transition to the defensive line. A move that demonstrates the selfless attitude of this defense.
The defense set the tone once again on Saturday afternoon. This time grounding the Ball State Cardinals passing attack led by WR Justin Hall, who finished the game with 6 receptions for 35 yards and at least two drops. The defense was also able to force two interceptions and sacked the quarterback one time–an impressive feat when the ball was getting out of the opposing team’s quarterback’s hands fast.
Most importantly, the defense showed that their bend, but don’t break mentality, demonstrated against Wisconsin, was no fluke. They held Ball State to two short field goals, with the longest one being 24 yards. It wasn’t until the backups came in did the Cardinals find the end zone–aided by two 15-yd penalties.
And although the defense was impressive it was the offense that marched up and down the field all day long. In the first half they were able to score on their first three possessions, giving their defense a 17 point cushion. Quarterback Sean Clifford showed the ability to get the ball out quick, extend the play when he needed to, throw it away when he wasn’t comfortable throwing it into tight coverage, and he even broke a 41 yard run.
Yet again the offense did not turn the ball over, although RB Keyvone Lee did temporarily cough up the pigskin before falling back on it. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since the backup averaged 8.5 yards per carry and was obviously the most violent runner for the Nittany Lions.
In the air, the Nittany Lions look more balanced than ever. Ten different Nittany Lions hauled in a pass, including a comforting six catch, 57 yard game by WR Parker Washington, who also had an impressive one-handed grab. WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith also had a difficult catch over the middle on a tight throw by Clifford.
The offense did stall some in the second half and Kicker Jordan Stout hasn’t necessarily relieved the pressure put on him after missing one 45 yard field goal attempt. But they didn’t do anything stupid and they didn’t show too much with the Auburn Tigers (2-0) coming to town for a College Game Day, White Out extravaganza.
Sometimes that’s all you need from your offense–don’t do anything stupid and move the ball–the Nittany Lions did that and more on Saturday. When your defense is playing with their hair on fire, complementary football will win you a majority of your games.
It’s yet to be seen how the offense will respond if the defense comes back down to earth, but for now they can rely on the “hybrid” and the mentality he has helped instill on this defense.