UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — Turnovers, sacks, and tackles for loss have become the identity of Penn State’s defense under Manny Diaz, which has the Nittany Lions allowing only 18 points per game. Penn State is fifth in the nation with 88 tackles for loss on the season, which is a substantial jump from last year when they were 42nd.
“In the past whether it was Bob or it was Brent we were more gap controlled so we would take on a half a man and basically play through a man into our gap where we’re vertical pressure,” said Head Coach James Franklin. “We’re more gap controlled by getting vertical through the gap which allows you to be more disruptive.”
The defense has been a lot more disruptive in the second half of the season. The Nittany Lions have doubled their average tackles for a loss, now averaging more than 10 a game since the bye. The Nittany Lions have had three games with double digit tackles for loss, including a season high of 16 against Indiana.
“If I’m playing into the mark rather than shooting inside of the mark, you’ve got a chance to penetrate negative plays and tackles for loss,” said Franklin.
Manny Diaz’s defense has been wildly successful in recent weeks and it has helped him to be named a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, which is handed out to the nation’s top assistant coach.