Blue White Illustrated

Illinois Postgame

Penn State Sports Magazine

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N O V E M B E R 2 2 , 2 0 1 4 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M N A T E   B A U E R | N B A U E R @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Following a 16-14 loss to Illinois on Saturday a7ernoon, Penn State could hardly hide its frustra- tions. Against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions could muster just 14 points, coughed up a costly fum- ble and produced just 265 yards for the game. In the minds of Penn State's de- fensive players though, that wasn't the issue. Instead, they were unhappy that they had allowed 16 points and failed to stop the Illini offense with the game on the line. "When you play on defense, the objec- tive of the game is to not let points up on the board," linebacker Nyeem Wartman said. "So at the end of the day, we need to stop them. We've just got to come out and play better." Opening the game by forcing six con- secutive Illinois punts, the Nittany Lions hardly looked susceptible defen- sively. Although the Illini were able to produce a touchdown drive late in the first half – thanks in large part to an offside penalty on a punt that extended the possession – the Nittany Lions were thoroughly dom- inant in giving up only 9 yards on the ground and only 104 yards through the air on 24 passing attempts. On top of that, the Lions held an 18:45-to-11:15 ad- vantage in time of possession at hal7ime. So there were few indications to suggest a departure from the habits that had contributed to giving Penn State the No. 1 rush and pass-efficiency defense and No. 4 scoring defense in the country. The fourth quarter would bring them, though. Following a 47-yard touchdown carry that gave the Nittany Lions a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, they allowed possessions of 11, nine and seven plays for 150 combined yards and 9 minutes, 20 seconds of ball possession. Making matters worse, multiple opportunities at finishing off those possessions with po- tentially game-saving tackles were missed. "We missed more tackles than we should have, tackles that would have ended drives," cornerback Jordan Lucas said. Wartman echoed his thoughts. "It was off. We didn't play like how we play every week," he said. "We have a standard, and we didn't play up to that standard." Following the game, Penn State head coach James Franklin cited his defense as being "worn out" like many other teams across the country, especially with the loss of linebacker Brandon Bell due to in- jury this week. But, he added, his Nittany Lions "are not fundamentally sound right now in tackling. We have gotten away with it for most of the year." As a result, the Nittany Lion defenders walked out of Memorial Stadium deter- mined to produce a different outcome when Michigan State travels to State College. Said Wartman, "For this game next week on Senior Day, we're just going to have to bring it and play with the mindset and the right way, and play vi- cious." REVERSAL OF FORTUNE Ineffective in the first half, Illinois comes alive in the second to edge PSU BACKUP PLAN Jason Cabinda filled in for the injured Brandon Bell against Illi- nois. Photo by Steve Manuel 10

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