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Penn State Football: Barkley Happy With How He's Seeing Blitzes

by on September 15, 2016 11:20 AM

For all of the impressive runs and jaw dropping moves that Saquon Barkley has put on the field over the past two seasons it's the little things he's still focusing on to become a complete running back.

And it's the sort of thing you may never notice unless it goes bad. Take for example Penn State's final play against Ohio State in double overtime two years ago, Buckeye defensive tackle Joey Bosa blowing up Akeel Lynch in pass protection and all but throwing him into Christian Hackenberg.

While that may have never been a matchup in the trenches Penn State was going to win, it still goes to show how important everything else, especially pass protection can be for a running back. The literal last line of defense between the quarterback and the ground, and often times the difference between enough time to run a play and taking a sack.

"I do a better job seeing the blitzes this year," Barkley said after practice on Wednesday. "Or seeing the blitz before it even comes, not waiting for the offensive line to figure it out, seeing the defenses eyes or reading the defensive linemen, the safeties, just the keys that they give off that we go over in practice."

"Coach Huff and Coach Moorhead and all the other RBs do a great job helping me see that. So if I had to say I improved on something, I'd say that I really improved in that area, that's something that I'm not satisfied with still, but I'm not satisfied with any part of my game because I always want to improve and always want to get better."

Through two weeks Penn State has given up just five sacks, which is a far cry from the 10 given up against Temple in the season opener in 2015. While both Barkley and the offensive front have a long way to go to become the pass protection gurus the Nittany Lions need them to be, it's equally true both Barkley and the line in front of him have improved in that area.

Will it hold up as the schedule becomes more difficult? Only a time will tell and a trip to Ann Arbor in two weeks ought to give some immediate answers to one of the season's most pressing questions.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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