The Penn State defense will have its hands full on Saturday night trying to stop a Buckeye offense with plenty of weapons all across the field. The one weapon that has the defense the most concerned is Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
"We just gotta keep in mind that he's an explosive player, he can make a play at any time,'' Safety turned Linebacker Stepehn Obeng-Agyapong said of Miller on Wednesday. "If you find you've got him one-on-one, he can make you miss so we have to corral the ball.''
Penn State's defense knows all about Miller already. During Ohio State's 35-23 win at Penn State last season, Miller was responsible for three touchdowns and 134 yards on the ground. Much like Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, Miller mixes a deadly pass attack with elite foot speed and the ability to change of direction.
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien called Miller one of the Top 5 players in the nation earlier in the week. While Miller's numbers are down this year thanks to an injury, Miller still possesses every bit of the playmaking ability that he had last year.
"It's a very difficult challenge playing a guy like Braxton Miller," Head coach Bill O'Brien said this week. "In my opinion one of the top five players in the country; really good football player who has improved immensely since he's been in the system. Last year was his first year in the system. Now I think he's got great grasp of this system. He's throwing the ball well. I thought they played real well offensively against Iowa. And again, like you said, if he gets outside the pocket, he's a dangerous guy.
"You know, sometimes those things are going to happen. We've got to play hard and play with great effort and do the best we can to keep him in there, and when he gets out, we have to make sure that we understand our rules, our scramble rules when he gets out.
"But again, that's the difficulty with a lot of these teams that you face with these quarterbacks that are dual‑threat guys. It's just a dangerous thing when they get outside the pocket there. They're excellent quarterbacks in the pocket and they're good outside the pocket. We'll just do the best we can."
The good news for O'Brien and company is that Penn State's defense is as healthy as it has been all season. The Nittany Lions succeeded in slowing Michigan's offense due in large part to gang tackles and a complete effort from every player on the defensive unit.
Penn State will need that same kind of mentality when it comes to slowing down Ohio State's offense. As O'Brien notes that great players will make great plays, it's just about limiting the number of times it happens.
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