Penn State vs. Army Preview
Penn State will look to add on to their three game winning streak against Army West Point this Saturday in Happy Valley. It is their final non-conference matchup of the season, which the Lions intend to take advantage of by continuing to improve on their growth and confidence as a team. The Black Knights are also coming into this game with a 58- 36 victory over Eastern Michigan last week.
"We're playing really, really well up front," said head coach James Franklin. "That was kind of the expectation going into the season really the last two years. Our defense kind of feeds off of how our d-line plays."
Penn State’s defensive line has been key for the team’s recent success, especially in their last game against San Diego State. The defensive line finished with 21 tackles in total, five sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered, and a touchdown against the Aztecs. Austin Johnson, who provided the defense with their touchdown for the game, scooped up a fumble caused by Carl Nassib and scored his first career touchdown of 71 yards. The big guys up front, such as Austin Johnson and Carl Nassib, are wreaking havoc on offensive lineman, having a huge impact on Penn State’s success.
The main concern Saturday is overcoming Army’s triple option offensive play, which Penn State has not seen yet this season and has not seen often in past seasons. The Nittany Lions’ defense aims to continue to have elite play upfront in order to prevail over Army’s triple option attack. Franklin noted tackling fundamentals as the key area he is looking for out of his defense against the Black Knights’ offense.
Offensively for the Nittany Lions, the team’s ball possession in the opening half of the game against San Diego State was noteworthy. Penn State had 45 offensive plays and more than 22 minutes of possession in the first half of the game. Ball control was the main reason for their big lead ending the first half of the game.
Adding to Penn State’s offensive success on Saturday was the passing game and a strong performance from Christian Hackenberg. The Lions quarterback got the ball in the hands of seven different players in last week’s game against the Aztecs and finished the game with 296 yards.
"I thought we had some drops early on in the season, but I think overall we're doing some good things," said Franklin. "But as we continue to build confidence on our offensive line and grow with experience there, that those guys will be able to have a bigger and bigger impact as the season progresses."
On the other side, Army rushed 556 yards and held the ball for more than 41 minutes last week against Eastern Michigan. The Black Knights’ triple option attack will be a tough feat for Penn State to overcome and whether Army’s offense is successful against the Lion’s defense will be a major influence on which team wins the game this Saturday in Happy Valley.
Overcoming injuries this week will be another major task for the team. Running backs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley, safety Marcus Allen, defensive end Evan Schwan, and linebacker Brandon Bell, all suffered injuries in the game against San Diego State. However, Franklin stated that he doesn’t expect any of the injuries to be season ending injuries. To Franklin’s knowledge Penn State’s safeties, Jordan Lucas and Marcus Allen, are making returns in the upcoming game.
Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.