Blue White Illustrated

May 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 23 of 67

2 4 M A Y 2 0 2 3 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M P enn State football will look different on defense in 2023, but its leader is back in the saddle. Manny Diaz started his second sea- son as the Nittany Lions' defensive co- ordinator when spring practice began in mid-March. He must replace four starters from a unit that ranked 10th in the FBS in points allowed last year (18.23 per game) while also finding reserves who can step into the rotation at all three levels. He'll be doing all that with a new posi- tion coach by his side. Former graduate assistant Deion Barnes was named the team's defensive line coach in March after John Scott Jr. left for an NFL job with the Detroit Lions. That might seem daunting, but to Diaz, constant change is just a fact of life in col- lege football. "There's always going to be attrition," he said. "But we get to add players as well. We're also very thankful for the ones that we have coming back, the ones that ei- ther chose to come back or are younger guys, because we've got really talented freshman and sophomore classes. And I think that's part of the allure of coaching in college. It's fun to have that challenge and see guys understand that there are big shoes to fill. "We lost not just some outstanding players, but some outstanding personali- ties in our locker room," Diaz added. "But that's all part of it. You're always trying to piece it together and find out what's going to make this team go, because it's never the same formula as it was a year before." Here's a closer look at how Penn State's Some Assembly Required Talented returnees abound, but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz still has holes to fill this offseason G R E G P I C K E L | G R E G. P I C K E L @ O N 3 . C O M Diaz is preparing for his second season in charge of the Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions ranked 10th in the FBS in points allowed per game (18.23) last fall. PHOTO BY DANIEL ALTHOUSE

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