FEATURE: Complementary Football Fuels Lions Past Purdue

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Nov. 17, 2013

By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since the day he arrived on the Penn State campus, head coach Bill O'Brien has stressed the importance of each unit on the field feeding off one another.

When the defense does its job, it lends to better scoring chances for the offense. When the offense scores points, it gives the defense more breathing room on the scoreboard and more rest on the sideline.

It's no surprise that when a team plays good complementary football it usually walks off the field a winner. Saturday's 45-21 victory over Purdue was a fitting example of why O'Brien preaches the importance of playing consistent complementary football to the Nittany Lions.

Penn State marched 75 yards in 5:49 on the game's opening drive against the Boilers before Bill Belton visited the end zone for a score. With a 7-0 lead, the Nittany Lion defense stepped onto the field and limited Purdue to just nine yards before a three-and-out and a punt.

The Nittany Lion offense got the ball at its own 34 on the ensuing possession. Zach Zwinak plunged into the end zone 10 plays later and the Lions led 14-0 on the scoreboard.

"When the defense makes a play, we have to make sure that we come back and convert for them," sophomore tight end Kyle Carter said.

The Penn State defense forced three turnovers on Saturday, beginning with sophomore Jordan Lucas's third interception in Big Ten play on the first possession of the second quarter. The turnover handed Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State offense the ball at the Purdue 33-yard line, and six plays later Zwinak was in the end zone for the second time.

 

 

"When they make a play, it gets us jacked up and we are ready to go," said guard Miles Dieffenbach. "They gave us great field position, and we were ready to capitalize and turn it in to points."

The defense created three turnovers on Saturday. How did the offense respond? Penn State scored a season-high 21 points off of the three turnovers.

"It was big. The defensive guys created some turnovers and we turned the turnovers into points," O'Brien said. "The defense complemented itself, too. When they gave up a touchdown drive, they came right back and got a three-and-out."

Creating turnovers is a big point of emphasis every week for the Nittany Lion defense, but it was talked about throughout the days leading up to Saturday's win over Purdue. Penn State made plays on the football, and it created terrific scoring chances.

"It's really important for the offense to take what (our) defense gives us," junior wide receiver Allen Robinson said. "That's one thing we really wanted to do after the Minnesota game. The defense gave us some short fields, but we weren't able to capitalize. In this game, we played efficient and took advantages of our chances."

The Nittany Lions now shift focus to Senior Day in Beaver Stadium against Nebraska. Kick is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage from Big Ten Network.

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