Thursday, October 3, 2013
PSU secondary not focusing on the past
By Josh Moyer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Safety Adrian Amos didn't want to talk about Central Florida's passing attack on Wednesday.
Amos kept his chinstrap buckled after that 34-31 loss in mid-September, even during the singing of the alma mater. He didn't talk to the media then; few players were eager to say much after that loss.
But that game was in the past, Amos insisted. He wasn't thinking about UCF's passing game or the sting of walking to the locker room without tugging on the victory bell. Indiana is another team, another opportunity against a high-powered passing attack, and he said that's what his team is focusing on.
"We're just looking at Indiana as Indiana," he said. "We're just looking at Indiana based on what they do."
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The cornerback-turned-safety couldn't be blamed for wanting to place his focus elsewhere, even if Indiana's passing offense is ranked higher than the Knights'. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles played nearly a perfect game against the PSU secondary by completing 20-of-27 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He finished with a QBR of 96.7; a perfect score is 100.
Penn State players this week were continually peppered with questions about UCF because Indiana's passing offense might just be better -- at least it certainly is statistically. (Indiana boasts the nation's eighth-ranked passing offense, while UCF is No. 22.) Some wondered whether PSU's secondary was in for a repeat of the UCF game. Or if Penn State would fare better this time around.
Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones came the closest to addressing Central Florida this week, but even he wouldn't totally admit to reflecting on it.
"It's always in the back of my mind -- but, at the same time, it's not," Jones said. "We want to go out there and play our game the way it's supposed to be played, Penn State-style.
"They are two completely different offenses. Indiana is more fast paced, quick throw -- stuff like that. I learned from UCF that I have to pick my game up that much more."
The UCF game was a popular topic of conversation because it's the only above-average passing offense the Nittany Lions have faced so far. UCF is the lone top-40 passing offense PSU has gone against -- and that outcome was far from ideal.
Jones said Indiana would be the most up-tempo offense the defense sees all season. Head coach Bill O'Brien focused on the issue of space during a Tuesday press conference, mentioning the word six times and explaining how the Hoosiers tend to get the ball to their playmakers.
Because of that, tackling is more important than ever. Missed tackles can lead to big, explosive plays in space -- yet another issue in the loss to Central Florida.
"They're going to probably get the ball to their playmakers out in space," cornerback Jordan Lucas said, "And they're going to try to make us make tackles in space. That's what the game is going to be."
Indiana tight end Ted Bolser said he watched eight hours of film on PSU's defense last week and planned to watch another eight hours this week. Several PSU defenders said they prepared by practicing against a no-huddle scout team headed by walk-on D.J. Crook.
Clearly, something has to give here. The Hoosiers are out to show they can score big in the Big Ten, and PSU wants to make sure UCF was just a one-time mistake. Both want to start 1-0 in conference play.
"It's a challenge," Amos said. "I don't know whether it's going to be the toughest or not."