Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Next Big Test for Defense: Buckeyes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Next Big Test for Defense: Buckeyes

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Bob Shoop stepped off the elevator after calling Saturday's game from up in the box as usual. The Penn State defensive coordinator waited in the tunnel for a series of high- fives, pats on the back and hugs as his players exited the field.

There was a fist bump for safety Marcus Allen, a lively sophomore who returned to the field in Penn State's 29-7 win against Indiana after he missed the previous game with a shoulder injury. Middle linebacker Jason Cabinda was greeted with a hug after roaming sideline to sideline at a position the sophomore continues growing into after being thrust inside because of starter Nyeem Wartman- White's season-ending knee injury.

Out came a smile from defensive end Carl Nassib, usually intense and known by teammates as "Crazy Carl," who leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with 10 sacks and five forced fumbles. Nassib's disruptive linemates Austin Johnson, Anthony Zettel and Garrett Sickels followed.

When it comes to Penn State's defense, a unit that is 10th in FBS in total defense (275.7 yards per game), 11th in scoring defense (14.3 points per game) and 26th in rushing defense (117 yards per game), there's no shortage of playmakers. The unit was supposed to be the strength of the team again this year, and so far is more than holding up its end of the bargain while the offense - checking in at 103 in FBS (344.3 yards per game) - continues sorting through its challenges.

Finding answers for how to attack offenses is what Shoop does best, and with the Nittany Lions beginning preparations for a trip to Columbus, Ohio, to take on top-ranked Ohio State Saturday night, it'll be the defense once again that will need to come up with some type of remedy to slow down Urban Meyer's plethora of weapons.

Shoop adjusts his defense as needed to work to his players' strengths, and Saturday when the Hoosiers pushed the tempo, the Lions responded with a no-huddle defense. …

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