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Penn State Football: Defense Swarming As Speed Takes Control

by on October 01, 2017 1:30 PM

"Oh yea, it's faster." 

That's all Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda had to say about Penn State's defensive speed this season compared to years past. Four words and 14 tackles.

"It's been crazy, we've been working on that before the season and during the season," Cornerback Christian Campbell said after Penn State's 45-17 win over Indiana. "Our speed is tremendous, our practices are harder than the games. So when we come out in the game we look faster and better on the field. We practice that all the time, it's a tremendous effort for our defense and the 11 people running to the ball to make plays is exciting to play with that kind of speed."

It's impressive to watch too, the Nittany Lions rarely find themselves alone trying to make a tackle. Where a missed tackle not long ago may have resulted in a long gain by the opponent, Penn State is swarming to the ball, and a missed tackle usually means three more players ready to clean up the play.

"Every day Coach Pry puts an emphasis on all 11 guys running to the ball," Campbell said. "We're working on that every day in practice."

So far the work has paid off, Penn State is third nationally in tackles for a loss with 44 on the year. It's a pace that would tie 2016's total of 114 tackles for a loss, the most in past decade for a Penn State team. In fact the Nittany Lions have been on a historic run when it comes to stopping the play in the backfield, Penn State has ended each of the past two seasons in the Top 6 of tackles for a loss nationally. The 106 mark in 2015 was the most since 2009 when 105 plays ended in the backfield for the Penn State defense.

The results speak for themselves. Penn State is currently third in scoring defense at 9.4 points a game, and not far behind national leader in Alabama. The Tide are giving up just 8.6 points a game.

And swarming to the ball, it pays off in coverage too. The Nittany Lions have picked off seven passes so far this year, only nine teams have more.

It isn't rocket science, but it is something else.

"It's pretty fun." Campbell said with a smile.

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