Blue White Illustrated

November 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 19 of 67

2 0 N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 1 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Former junior college teammates Jaquan Brisker and Ji'Ayir Brown bring a rare chemistry to the back end of the Nittany Lions' defense I f it seemed as though Penn State senior safeties Jaquan Brisker and Ji'Ayir Brown knew where the ball was go- ing to go in the decisive final minutes of Penn State's season opener at Wisconsin, there was a reason for that: They did know where it was going to go. Or at least they came as close to knowing as you can get without actually knowing, which is often good enough. Brisker had been forced to the sideline several times due to muscle cramps and was riding the exercise bike when it struck him as he watched the game just how much the Badgers liked the short stick-and-nod routes in which receivers use quick cuts to shake free of defensive backs. He knew, too, that quar- terback Graham Mertz loved throwing to tight end Jake Fer- guson. And he knew that offenses in general have a tendency to use the same plays over and over again until defenses figure out a way to stop them; he did that himself whenever he played the Madden NFL video game. So when the rest of the Penn State defense came off the field during a change of possession, Brisker told Brown: Watch out for No. 84. They're going to keep looking for him. Late in the game, Brisker's attentiveness paid off. On their second-to-last possession, with the Badgers facing fourth- and-goal at the Penn State 8-yard line, Mertz's eyes never left Ferguson. The sophomore quarterback took a two-step drop and lofted a short pass over the middle. Brown was trailing Ferguson, but before he could even make a play on the ball, it was headed in the opposite direction. Brisker had stepped in front of the tight end and was sprinting upfield with the interception, ending Wisconsin's threat. M AT T H E R B | MATT@BLUEWHITEONLINE.COM Last Line Last Line Of Defense Of Defense

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