While Penn State got the victory against West Virginia in Week 1, it wasn’t a dominant performance from the defense like many people expecting coming into the game.
After finishing last year as one of the top defenses in the country, there were expectations that this unit would hit the ground running and dominate from the jump. Perhaps that was a little overzealous for a team getting their first live game reps.
Regardless, this is a game against Delaware where they should flash the dominance that is expected of them.
So, what are the defensive keys to victory on Saturday?
The first is to dominate on early downs.
Delaware wants to throw the ball early and often. Their offensive scheme is to air the ball out in a spread look and use the run sparingly when the defense is expanded. Stopping this attack on the early downs will force the Blue Hens into long down and distance situations where Penn State should wreak havoc.
The second key is to lock up the opposing wide receivers.
Penn State’s secondary is more talented overall than Delaware, but this scheme will be a good test for the Nittany Lions. It’s a quick hitting offense that wants to get the ball out fast, so defensive backs and linebackers will need to cover in space quickly. Seeing how they look covering an offensive style like what the Blue Hens run, will be good to see how they perform going forward.
The third key to victory is stopping the run.
Again, this is something that could be harped on throughout the season if things don’t improve. It was something that was supposedly going to be addressed this year as their interior defensive lineman gained weight. However, some of the struggles looked the same in Week 1 and it would be alarming if that continued against Delaware in Week 2.