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Penn State Football: Even With Green Out For Michigan, Franklin Sees Plenty Of Threats

by on October 08, 2014 6:00 AM

When Penn State takes the field on Saturday against Michigan, the Wolverines will be without leading rusher Derrick Green.

He will miss the remainder of the season with a broken clavicle the university announced Monday.

Green led Michigan with 82 carries for 471 yards and three scores.

His unfortunate injury won't hurt a Nittany Lion team that's looking for all the help it can get, but as coach James Franklin pointed out on Tuesday, while Green was getting the majority of the carries it's not as though Michigan lacks options.

"It's not like you're in a situation where it was just one guy playing," Franklin said on Tuesday. "Most people rotate their tailbacks, so you've had a chance to see them and evaluate them. I mean, the guy that we're expecting to be playing, No. 4, De'Veon Smith, he's averaging six yards a carry and he has four touchdowns, from what I understand. He's played. He's been successful and we understand it's going to be a challenge."

"You always hate to see a young man get injured and not be able to fulfill his season that we have worked so hard for. But we are going to prepare for the next guy that's going to take on that role."

Even with Green out and Smith in his place, Penn State's biggest challenge will likely come when the Nittany Lions look to stop dual-threat quarterback Devin Gardner. Gardner may not have the legs of some of Michigan's former running quarterbacks, but his ability to avoid pass rushers and get yards on broken plays makes him a viable offensive option.

And containing him means getting the Penn State's defensive players all on the same page.

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"I think obviously it's discipline with your rush lane, your defensive line, what they call "caging" the quarterback. So that's getting push with your interior tackles, your nose guard and your three technique; and that's what the defensive end coming off the edge and containing the guy," Franklin said.

"I think a lot of times what happens is a guy gets out of his lane to try to make a play and no different than what we were talking about, the quarterback, sometimes that goes well for you and you get a sack because of it. Well, other times it creates a rush lane and the quarterback is able to hurt you."

Most of all, having lost three straight games Michigan will be a desperate team the Nittany Lions will face on Saturday in front of a packed house eager for a Big Ten win. 

And sometimes desperate teams are harder to beat than good ones.


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