Jaquan Brisker Leads Penn State Defense In An Overpowering Performance
Four times on Saturday, graduate senior and captain Jaquan Brisker left the game due to injury.
Four times on Saturday, Brisker returned to the game.
His return was quintessential for Penn State, too, as he snared a late interception in the red zone to help lift the Nittany Lions to a top-25 win on the road.
Following the victory, James Franklin praised Brisker, not only for resiliency but also for his play when he was on the field. Brisker was all over the field today, and on top of his clutch interception, he chipped in four tackles, one of which was for a loss and a pass breakup.
“I thought Brisker [was] fantastic today,” Franklin said. “[He provided a] bunch of playmaking and production.”
Senior defensive tackle PJ Mustipher also recognized the job Brisker did today. Mustipher also noted just how much character Brisker has and what it took for him to continue to return to the contest despite the injuries he was dealing with.
“That’s just a testament to who he is as a football player, he did a phenomenal job,” Mustipher said. “He’s an All-American.”
Brisker helped lead a Penn State defense which nullified much of what Wisconsin threw its way, especially in the red zone.
The Badgers found their way inside Penn State’s 20-yard line only four times on Saturday, but only came away successfully once.
Last year, Penn State only stopped its opponents from scoring three times during the entire season after entering the red zone — the same amount of stops it got against Wisconsin alone Saturday.
“In camp we had a few red zone situations,” Mustipher said. “We knew that the red zone was something we had to improve on and we did.”
Brisker echoed the sentiment of the squad focusing on the red zone all offseason, and that preparation paid off for the Nittany Lions, who held Wisconsin to only 10 points.
One of the biggest red zone plays came late in the fourth quarter when Brisker intercepted a Graham Mertz pass intended for tight end Jake Ferguson.
Mertz targeted the 6-foot-5 tight end 12 times, and Ferguson hauled in nine of those targets for 52 yards.
Brisker was aware of how much attention Mertz was giving to his tight end, and he utilized that knowledge to jump the route.
“They kept going to [Ferguson] in the red zone, they kept looking at him,” Brisker said. “I figured I’m gonna sit to the right a bit and let the quarterback see that he’s open.”
Even after Brisker successfully baited a pass and intercepted it, his mind immediately went to his teammates, rather than himself.
“Once I picked it, I was like ‘I wanna give the offense some room’,” Brisker said.
Brisker did just that, as he ran the ball back to the 43-yard line before the Penn State offense gave the ball back, requiring Brisker and company to take the field for one last stand — and for one more time, Brisker came back out onto the field.
Whatever the ailments were that plagued him throughout the afternoon, Brisker continued to fight and show his toughness.
However, the captain looked beyond the injuries each and every time, acknowledging it was for his teammates.
“I just had to fight through it for my teammates and that’s what I did,” Brisker said.
Zech Lambert is a fourth-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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