Penn St. defense gets message from coaches, shuts down opponents Print
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Tuesday, 11 September 2007 11:17
NCAAF Headline News

 STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -In Penn State football meeting rooms, coaches repeat a phrase to the defense: strive for perfection. The 12th-ranked Nittany Lions sure are getting the message.
Consider these gaudy statistics through two games: 13 sacks, no offensive touchdowns allowed and the top-ranked rush defense (minus-1.5 yards per game) in the country.
``You just got to be perfect, be perfect at everything for 80 plays,'' cornerback Justin King said Tuesday. ``You got to do everything right.''
Coach Joe Paterno likes to hear such lofty goals, but has a simpler philosophy of wanting to see improvement every week.
If the Nittany Lions (2-0) continue playing like they have in the first two weeks of the season, it could be a long afternoon this Saturday for heavy underdog Buffalo.
``Perfection - you're never going to get perfect,'' Paterno said. ``All we're trying to tell them is to get better, play better, pay attention. ... Don't make a mistake that's going to lose the game, and when you get a chance to make the big play that's going to win the game, go get it, go do it. Don't be afraid to take that chance.''
So far, Penn State is playing stellar defense, buzzing around the field like blue-and-white blurs. Opponents haven't stood a chance against the more athletic Nittany Lions.
Granted, the first two games have been against lowly Florida International and struggling Notre Dame. Penn State has outscored its opponents 90-10.
``We haven't been in a tough football game yet, we just haven't,'' Paterno said. ``We haven't been down there where we have to do some things under a tremendous amount of pressure, and we won't know how good we are until we do it.''
Chief among Paterno's concerns is an inexperienced defensive line that so far has bowled over opponents on the pass rush. But only one starter, defensive end Josh Gaines, has seen heavy playing time in tight games.
``They're doing OK, but we got some ways to go,'' Paterno said.
The back seven has been as good as advertised.
Linebacker Dan Connor finished with 12 tackles against Notre Dame, a performance that earned him Big Ten defensive player of the week honors. Fellow linebacker Sean Lee won the award the previous week.
The speedy King leads an experienced secondary that has benefited from the defensive line's early success in pressuring the quarterback.
``If we only got to cover a guy for 3 or 4 seconds, it makes the job a lot easier,'' said King, who broke up two passes and snagged an interception against the Irish.
King said his shoulder was sore after getting tangled up with a receiver on the interception, but the injury is ``nothing that will keep me off the field.''
Connor, a captain and the lone senior starter on defense, said this year's unit is the most athletic and deep he has played on while at Penn State.
Perfection means ``getting all 11 white helmets on the ball in every play,'' he said. ``That's what the defensive coaches stay on us for.''
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ey've got to make their place now.'' ... Guard Lou Eliades, held out last week because of a concussion, could play this week. Starting right guard John Shaw has a sore knee, Paterno said, though the injury is unlikely to keep the senior out of the lineup.
 

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