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Michigan football defense will have hands full with Penn State

This weekend, the elite Michigan football defense will have its hands full with an explosive Penn State offense.



Michigan football, Penn State, Steve Clinkscale
Oct 15, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) rushes in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan football defense and Penn State football offense — two of the top forces in college football — are both coming off of impressive games last weekend. The Wolverines held Purdue to just 13 points coming off the bye week, while the Nittany Lions hung an impressive 51 points on Maryland in College Park, MD. On Saturday, these two forces will meet for the first time since last October; this afternoon, defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale gave some insight into what he is expecting.

Michigan football defense will have hands full with Penn State football offense

Offensive line

Penn State football has a new quarterback under center and a lot of explosive and talented players across the board. Starting with the Nittany Lions’ improved offensive line, the Michigan football pass rush and the team’s huge defensive tackles need to get leverage.

“Well, the first thing that stands out is (Penn State’s) offensive line — they do a great job protecting that quarterback. They give him a lot of time; he can go through his progressions.”

Tight ends

Steve Clinkscale also noted that, with every top-tier quarterback, such as Drew Allar, there is at least one deadly tight end to match. For Penn State, there are two tight ends to watch: Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren.

“The tight ends help as well. They are big targets — they have great hands. I’m not sure I have seen one of them drop a ball on film, to be honest with you. … Those two guys are definitely helping with their passing game.”

Wide receivers

Per usual, Michigan football will have to stop a plethora of talented Penn State wideouts. While this year’s team is not as talented outside as previous James Franklin-led offenses have been, the Nittany Lions boast talented and explosive weapons such as KeAndre Lambert-Smith and other big-play guys.

“Their wide receiver corps (is) very similar to every other year (that we) face them,” Steve Clinkscale said. “They are very explosive guys; they run great routes, you know, twitched up. They know where to be — why (Allar) is throwing the ball, where he is throwing it. They are coached up very well.”

Michigan football defense facing top challenge to date with Penn State

Steve Clinkscale made a point to add that, so far, Michigan football has not faced a bigger challenge. The Nittany Lions don’t just have one guy that can beat you; they have a number of incredibly talented players, and shutting down an offense like this will be massive for the Wolverines, who are yet to be tested by a team like Penn State thus far.

“I think this will be our best challenge, our number one challenge here to date,” Clinkscale said. “They don’t just have one guy — they have several guys that can take it to the house, break tackles, and make plays. (Penn State will be) a big challenge for us, and we’re ready for it.”

No. 3 Michigan football (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) will face No. 10 Penn State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) on Saturday at 12:10 PM (ET) in Happy Valley, PA. Jim Harbaugh has a 5-3 record against the Nittany Lions thus far, including a current two-game win streak, most recently downing PSU 41-17 at the Big House last October.

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CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball as a member of the credentialed media at both schools. Right now, CJ writes for Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. He also does some credentialed basketball coverage. Previously, CJ has made stops with sites like GBMWolverine, Saturday Blitz, Steeler Nation, and more.