Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense

Big Ten

Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense


Biggest Key To The Penn State Nittany Lions Defense

Don’t allow a lot of points. Duh … that’s sort of the whole point of playing defense. However, over the last four years under James Franklin, good things happen when his defenses keep teams under 27 points.

The Nittany Lions are 31-1 when allowing fewer than 27 points – only losing 21-17 to Michigan State in 2018. When allowing 27 or more, they’re 9-10.

So how does the defense keep the score low? Simple – get off the field.

Time of possession hasn’t meant a whole lot to Penn State over the years, but that means the defense can’t be taxed by giving up long drives. The defense was just okay on third down stops overall, but when it allowed teams to convert fewer than 40% of their chances, the team was 6-0, and almost always with ease.

Biggest Key To The Purdue Boilermakers Defense

Get the (bleep) off the field already. The Boilermakers have the pass rushers, and they have the experience overall, but the defense was a disaster far too often when it came to coming up with the big stop to get the ball back to the offense.

Part of it is a stylistic choice.

Purdue doesn’t care a lick about time of possession, which is fine when the offense is rocking and rolling. That’s bad when the defense gets gassed. Allowing teams to covert 40% of their third down chances isn’t totally miserable, but it’s not great.

For the most part, the D was able to do the job. But Penn State was able to keep things moving, and the wheels came totally off late in the season when Wisconsin and Indiana combined to convert 20-of-30 third down tries in the final two games.

In Jeff Brohm’s first two seasons, the defenses finished the seasons under the 40% mark. The year before he took over, the defense was giving up third down tries at a 49% clip.

NEXT: Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Wisconsin Badgers

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