Thin defense, freshmen playing signs of the times
Penn State’s defense has to lick its wounds after last week’s pasting by Central Florida, and be ready to play Saturday. The good news is the Lions may see only one or two offenses that are better than UCF’s the rest of this season, and the better news is that this week’s opponent is not one of them.
Kent State is 1-3, coming off a 45-13 loss to LSU. The Golden Flashes are averaging just 91 yards a game on the ground and 137 through the air. Just what the doctor ordered for PSU’s defense to regain some confidence.
It’s no secret depth is a problem for this defense, especially at linebacker, where Mike Hull and Dallastown’s Ben Kline continue to fight injuries. It’s also no secret this situation will persist, and probably get worse, between now and 2017, when the NCAA scholarship limits expire. Penn State was at the 65 player limit this year, asked to have the sanctions start now and end a year early, and was turned down. So, the official penalty starts next year.
Injuries and scholarship limits have already put several true freshmen on the field. Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman are obviously ready, but you’d like the coaches to be able to make the call on whether to burn a redshirt on whether they think the player is set to take on major college competition, not because there’s nobody else left.
Bill O’Brien says he and his coaches do evaluate each player on that individual’s situation, and have a red, green, yellow system in place. If it comes to the coaches thinking they could use the true frosh, the final decision lies in where that player falls on the color coded evaluation.
Given what we’re seeing this year and are likely to see for the next four seasons, I have a feeling more of those evaluations will end up with green lights, ready or not.