KNOW THE ENEMY: Penn St

judgefudge101

Member
Oct 25, 2020
15
38
1
Auburn fan here. Last year I came over to post this and seemed to have gotten some appreciation for the good read. We have a member on the Bunker that is currently a fb coach. Leading up to the games, he watches game film on the opponents and gives a breakdown/prediction in his series titled KNOW THE ENEMY. These articles have always been much more in depth and detailed than the BS analysis you’ll see elsewhere like “well team A has been tested while team B hasn’t, so I except team A to win”. I apologize in advance of some of the formatting gets screwed up since it’s copy/paste. Anyways, here ya go and I look forward to a great game this weekend.


With pressure mounting almost exponentially and a wave of orange curiosity washing over them, the Auburn Tigers play host to the Nittany Lions of Penn State this weekend as both teams chase a 3-and-0 start to the season.
There is much on the line for both teams.
Quarterback Sean Clifford.





Quarterback Sean Clifford. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
The Lions’ offense is led by super-senior quarterback Sean Clifford. The veteran quarterback’s strengths are his mobility and his accuracy in the quick game; two skills that have already been problematic for the Auburn defense.
Clifford also is effective on play-action passes, which is a major component of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s scheme. He moves tight ends around constantly to create blocking angles and challenges the coverage discipline of safeties.
Penn State has a capable running game that has been serviceable so far this season. They boast two very talented freshmen running backs that have dynamic skill sets. Five-star freshman Nick Singleton is the home-run threat. Fellow freshman Kaytron Allen is a power back with a quick first step that can press gaps vertically and move the line of scrimmage in a hurry.
The effectiveness of the two running backs is what opens the play-action game up for Clifford down field.
Wideout Parker Washington is the team’s most dangerous threat in space. Like his predecessor Jahan Dotson, he will operate from the slot and on the perimeter, he will come in motion to take jet sweeps. He's also a threat on screens. Washington is a mismatch in space with any Auburn defender.
Mitchell Tinsley will pair with Washington and offers a steady, well-refined target that understands how to run routes against zones and get open. Last season, Brenton Strange hurt Auburn from his tight end position motioning across the formation and getting lost on play action — specifically targeting Smoke Monday.
That matchup yielded a long touchdown pass last season.
The team also expects to have the super athletic Theo Johnson available for the first time this season. Johnson is a 6-foot-6 mismatch player who could be a huge factor attacking the middle of the field and in the red zone.
The Lions’ offensive line is solid enough to give them a chance in big games. They’ve rotated seven players consistently so far to accentuate their strengths. Center Juice Scruggs is the anchor and the team’s best people-mover. His ability to push interior defenders off the ball is the most effective part of the Lions’ inside-zone run plays. The guards flanking him haven’t been as effective, especially at climbing off their double teams to get to linebackers.
Safety Keaton Ellis.





Safety Keaton Ellis. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Auburn teams have faced Manny Diaz defenses numerous times. His approach does not change.
He wants to press down on receivers with physical defensive backs to disrupt pass routes and forcefully accelerate the quarterback’s clock. He augments this by bringing multiple (and elaborate) pressures to create sacks, tackles for a loss and turnovers.
His teams don’t play for shutouts. They play to create chaos and opportunity.
Diaz will use three down linemen anchored by a solid space-eating PJ Mustipher and a true edge player, Adisa Isaac, to attack the offensive line. One tackle will line up in 2 or 2i defensive alignments and slant, stunt or twist in some fashion on every play.
Mustipher generally is the guy they ask to force a double-team block and hold it for a linebacker to stay clean. They want to manifest discomfort in their opponents' blocking schemes.
In long-yardage situations, Chop Robinson will become a stand-up, 5-tech guy as a true speed rusher on the edge. He'll even side wider into a “Ghost 9” alignment from time to time. The former Maryland Terrapin is the group's most athletic frontline defender.
Last season the linebacker corps was a legit strength for this team. This year's group has several solid players, but lacks an all-around playmaker like they've had before. Jonathan Sutherland is a lot like Owen Pappoe, even wearing the same number, as an undersized hyper-athletic linebacker that excels at blitzing. Freshman Abdul Carter is wearing the famous No. 11 of Lavar Arrington and Micah Parsons, but hasn’t demonstrated the same level of impact to this point.
Cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Is one of the nation’s best all-around defenders. He is ultra-physical, plays over outside and inside receivers and tackles like a linebacker. He excels in press coverage and has a history of creating takeaways.
The secondary is the team’s best unit.
Ji’Ayir Brown and Keaton Ellis are versatile, play-making safeties that can play near the line of scrimmage or off the ball, blitz or cover receivers across the middle. They allow Diaz a tremendous amount of creativity.
Jake Pinegar has been erratic in his kicking duties for several seasons now. He also has limited range.
PSU will not want to lean on kicking duties to win a game.
Washington as a return man gives the Nittany Lions the advantage in special teams. He is a threat to score anytime he gets a chance to return the ball. Oscar Chapman and Anders Carlson must be deliberate in their efforts to keep the ball out of his hands.
zsiaxw5m8hgbeatm2rmz


Penn State DC Manny Diaz vs. T.J. Finley
Diaz is going to pour the pressure on Finley, force him to make fast decisions and try to exploit his limited mobility. Finley must slow his cadence, see what the defense is doing pre-snap and make quick, accurate throws to exploit PSU's man coverage.
Eku Leota vs. Penn State's RT
The Nittany Lions’ primary right tackle, Caedan Wallace, has been subbed out in the face of speed rushers already this season. He’s strong and heavy, but so are his feet. Leota can beat Wallace off the ball and has a chance at some pressures, sacks tackles for loss. PSU now lists Bryce Effner as a possible starter, in fact, and he actually looked better in one stint as a replacement against Purdue. Effner was just so-so against Ohio last week.
Owen Pappoe vs. Penn State QB Sean Clifford
Most well-developed defensive schemes use the middle linebacker as a secondary contain player once the quarterback breaks the pocket. Pappoe has elite closing speed and can put pressure on Clifford faster than most when he goes on the run. Pappoe's speed can make Clifford a one-dimensional guy.
dfoujsticsepkrotnepf


What I'll be watching ...
• Auburn hasn’t gotten much from the receiving corps so far. To have any chance at all, this group must make some things happen in space and make PSU pay for its aggressiveness.
• Auburn’s most effective running set was the two-tight end Ace set last week. Using this set can help control where and what PSU can do with its safeties. This also negatively affects PSU's linebackers in the run game by moving them out of position horizontally.
• Auburn has played a ton of zone and “off” man coverage so far. That has allowed teams to hit the Tigers with quick passes that are hard to defend — and keep the pass rush from getting home. Auburn must close that space pre-snap, dictate where receivers can release and go and make Clifford hold the ball for a bit longer.
io6loorumnhorxotjkhe


Auburn DE Derick Hall
I sense a break-out game coming — he will get home a few times when PSU tries some of its longer-developing, play-action passes.
Penn State WR Parker Washington
He's going to move around all over the field. Auburn’s secondary has conceded some big plays to Group of 5 athletes out in space already. Washington can make these Tigers pay dearly. If he gashes them more than once, it could be deadly.
Penn State QB Sean Clifford
The veteran quarterback has the traits that already have proven problematic for the AU defense — mobility and a quick release. If Auburn can’t disrupt Clifford and instead gives him the kind of room afforded San Jose State last weekend, he’s going to have a huge game.
arybcuapslmqtb9c1mqr


There is a chance that Jordan-Hare Stadium will be the most hostile environment this PSU team will have ever faced.
There is a chance that Auburn has held a lot back so far this season in preparation for this game.
There is a chance that Auburn had a look-ahead game against SJSU with its eyes on this week.
If all those theoreticals are representative of reality, Auburn can win this game and reset the rudder for this season. I just haven’t seen anything to make me believe anything other than the first theoretical is plausible. This Auburn team seems too flawed at key positions to withstand such an aggressive pressure defense and hasn’t shown enough inclination creating necessary turnovers
I'd love nothing more than to be very wrong here. Nonetheless, I see James Franklin going 2-and-0 against Bryan Harsin.
PSU 27, Auburn 17
 

lazydave841

Well-Known Member
Jan 9, 2021
2,542
2,512
1
Appreciate you coming over and reading some outside perspective.

I don't want to let this best understated, but the Auburn run game vs our front 7 is going to be the most vital aspect of this game if I had to place my bets on one. Our best LB is a Sam playing Will. Our Mike is inexperienced. Brooks wasn't all world, but he did well against yall last year.

On the DL, PJ '22 hasn't come close to PJ '21 yet. We're playing smaller in the 3 and it hasn't produced much yet. DE has talent, but they mostly fit the role of pass rushers vs run stuffers. To make that worse, they aren't getting home for sacks either.

One thing about this group is we have depth. No superstars yet, but everyone is at least solid and not a huge liability (yet).

I'm expecting some very tight coverage on your WRs and Diaz perhaps creeping Brown into the box to help defend the run unless our front 7 show out better. Road game in the heat, I wouldn't touch this one with a prediction.
 

Obliviax

Well-Known Member
Gold Member
Aug 21, 2001
109,264
60,092
1
I love reading this. If Auburn establishes a good running game, this will be a close one. If not, it could be over by the middle of the third quarter.

I agree Auburn, on D, will attack our RT. That will be a test for our offense. I am not optimistic we can run on Auburn but our two young RBs show a lot of promise in making plays when the primary lane isn't there. I suspect PSU can have a good passing game as our WRs and TEs are very good (if our OL can give us the time).

It will be fun to see how PSU handles the environment. We have played in challenging environments @ tOSU, Iowa and recently, Purdue. But we are playing a lot of true Freshmen First Year players so who knows.
 

PSU2UNC

Well-Known Member
Feb 9, 2016
6,410
6,755
1
Thanks for sharing that. An informative write up for sure.

Regarding "Freshman Abdul Carter is wearing the famous No. 11 of Lavar Arrington and Micah Parsons, but hasn’t demonstrated the same level of impact to this point."
He only played one play against Purdue (ejected on a horrible targeting call) and had five tackles against Ohio while sharing snaps. So I guess it's true to say he hasn't made an impact, but he's played like half a game. He will be a good one, but is maybe playing "too fast" right now which can lead to mistakes.

Also, "There is a chance that Jordan-Hare Stadium will be the most hostile environment this PSU team will have ever faced." I mean if the author means this exact roster than yes, it will be the toughest so far this year. If you mean that the team leaders/starters have ever seen.....no. OSU is far more hostile. I'd equate JHS closer to Iowa (which is to say loud and intimidating, but not nearly as big/loud/nasty as OSU).
 

psu00

Well-Known Member
Jan 4, 2010
24,145
11,994
1
That was a well done write up. The game is a tough call and interesting because it’s so early in the season that we’re not sure what either side really has yet.

Like most big matchups it’s going to come down to the lines. If Auburn establishes a solid running game to control the sticks and the clock it will be a very long day for Penn State.
 

judgefudge101

Member
Oct 25, 2020
15
38
1
Thanks for sharing that. An informative write up for sure.

Regarding "Freshman Abdul Carter is wearing the famous No. 11 of Lavar Arrington and Micah Parsons, but hasn’t demonstrated the same level of impact to this point."
He only played one play against Purdue (ejected on a horrible targeting call) and had five tackles against Ohio while sharing snaps. So I guess it's true to say he hasn't made an impact, but he's played like half a game. He will be a good one, but is maybe playing "too fast" right now which can lead to mistakes.

Also, "There is a chance that Jordan-Hare Stadium will be the most hostile environment this PSU team will have ever faced." I mean if the author means this exact roster than yes, it will be the toughest so far this year. If you mean that the team leaders/starters have ever seen.....no. OSU is far more hostile. I'd equate JHS closer to Iowa (which is to say loud and intimidating, but not nearly as big/loud/nasty as OSU).
I read those points more as “a possibility somewhere in the universe” type of statements, not facts. With that said, JHS is regarded by many in the industry as a crazy hostile environment. The stadium is a bit more condensed and captures sound very well. Sadly this game won’t have the full night time experience, but you can expect the Auburn faithful to return the favor to Penn St. Obviously these lists change across sites (some of which are just hilarious) but here’s a couple from a quick search
FR14uJiXsAId99G
EyKFdVuWQAMWZAN.png
 

bison13

Well-Known Member
Dec 22, 2007
7,893
7,370
1
I read those points more as “a possibility somewhere in the universe” type of statements, not facts. With that said, JHS is regarded by many in the industry as a crazy hostile environment. The stadium is a bit more condensed and captures sound very well. Sadly this game won’t have the full night time experience, but you can expect the Auburn faithful to return the favor to Penn St. Obviously these lists change across sites (some of which are just hilarious) but here’s a couple from a quick search
FR14uJiXsAId99G
EyKFdVuWQAMWZAN.png
quietest is correct for sure
 

bourbon n blues

Well-Known Member
Nov 20, 2019
24,487
28,761
1
It’s a good article but I’m not buying the
Auburn fan here. Last year I came over to post this and seemed to have gotten some appreciation for the good read. We have a member on the Bunker that is currently a fb coach. Leading up to the games, he watches game film on the opponents and gives a breakdown/prediction in his series titled KNOW THE ENEMY. These articles have always been much more in depth and detailed than the BS analysis you’ll see elsewhere like “well team A has been tested while team B hasn’t, so I except team A to win”. I apologize in advance of some of the formatting gets screwed up since it’s copy/paste. Anyways, here ya go and I look forward to a great game this weekend.


With pressure mounting almost exponentially and a wave of orange curiosity washing over them, the Auburn Tigers play host to the Nittany Lions of Penn State this weekend as both teams chase a 3-and-0 start to the season.
There is much on the line for both teams.
Quarterback Sean Clifford.





Quarterback Sean Clifford. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
The Lions’ offense is led by super-senior quarterback Sean Clifford. The veteran quarterback’s strengths are his mobility and his accuracy in the quick game; two skills that have already been problematic for the Auburn defense.
Clifford also is effective on play-action passes, which is a major component of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s scheme. He moves tight ends around constantly to create blocking angles and challenges the coverage discipline of safeties.
Penn State has a capable running game that has been serviceable so far this season. They boast two very talented freshmen running backs that have dynamic skill sets. Five-star freshman Nick Singleton is the home-run threat. Fellow freshman Kaytron Allen is a power back with a quick first step that can press gaps vertically and move the line of scrimmage in a hurry.
The effectiveness of the two running backs is what opens the play-action game up for Clifford down field.
Wideout Parker Washington is the team’s most dangerous threat in space. Like his predecessor Jahan Dotson, he will operate from the slot and on the perimeter, he will come in motion to take jet sweeps. He's also a threat on screens. Washington is a mismatch in space with any Auburn defender.
Mitchell Tinsley will pair with Washington and offers a steady, well-refined target that understands how to run routes against zones and get open. Last season, Brenton Strange hurt Auburn from his tight end position motioning across the formation and getting lost on play action — specifically targeting Smoke Monday.
That matchup yielded a long touchdown pass last season.
The team also expects to have the super athletic Theo Johnson available for the first time this season. Johnson is a 6-foot-6 mismatch player who could be a huge factor attacking the middle of the field and in the red zone.
The Lions’ offensive line is solid enough to give them a chance in big games. They’ve rotated seven players consistently so far to accentuate their strengths. Center Juice Scruggs is the anchor and the team’s best people-mover. His ability to push interior defenders off the ball is the most effective part of the Lions’ inside-zone run plays. The guards flanking him haven’t been as effective, especially at climbing off their double teams to get to linebackers.
Safety Keaton Ellis.





Safety Keaton Ellis. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Auburn teams have faced Manny Diaz defenses numerous times. His approach does not change.
He wants to press down on receivers with physical defensive backs to disrupt pass routes and forcefully accelerate the quarterback’s clock. He augments this by bringing multiple (and elaborate) pressures to create sacks, tackles for a loss and turnovers.
His teams don’t play for shutouts. They play to create chaos and opportunity.
Diaz will use three down linemen anchored by a solid space-eating PJ Mustipher and a true edge player, Adisa Isaac, to attack the offensive line. One tackle will line up in 2 or 2i defensive alignments and slant, stunt or twist in some fashion on every play.
Mustipher generally is the guy they ask to force a double-team block and hold it for a linebacker to stay clean. They want to manifest discomfort in their opponents' blocking schemes.
In long-yardage situations, Chop Robinson will become a stand-up, 5-tech guy as a true speed rusher on the edge. He'll even side wider into a “Ghost 9” alignment from time to time. The former Maryland Terrapin is the group's most athletic frontline defender.
Last season the linebacker corps was a legit strength for this team. This year's group has several solid players, but lacks an all-around playmaker like they've had before. Jonathan Sutherland is a lot like Owen Pappoe, even wearing the same number, as an undersized hyper-athletic linebacker that excels at blitzing. Freshman Abdul Carter is wearing the famous No. 11 of Lavar Arrington and Micah Parsons, but hasn’t demonstrated the same level of impact to this point.
Cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Is one of the nation’s best all-around defenders. He is ultra-physical, plays over outside and inside receivers and tackles like a linebacker. He excels in press coverage and has a history of creating takeaways.
The secondary is the team’s best unit.
Ji’Ayir Brown and Keaton Ellis are versatile, play-making safeties that can play near the line of scrimmage or off the ball, blitz or cover receivers across the middle. They allow Diaz a tremendous amount of creativity.
Jake Pinegar has been erratic in his kicking duties for several seasons now. He also has limited range.
PSU will not want to lean on kicking duties to win a game.
Washington as a return man gives the Nittany Lions the advantage in special teams. He is a threat to score anytime he gets a chance to return the ball. Oscar Chapman and Anders Carlson must be deliberate in their efforts to keep the ball out of his hands.
zsiaxw5m8hgbeatm2rmz


Penn State DC Manny Diaz vs. T.J. Finley
Diaz is going to pour the pressure on Finley, force him to make fast decisions and try to exploit his limited mobility. Finley must slow his cadence, see what the defense is doing pre-snap and make quick, accurate throws to exploit PSU's man coverage.
Eku Leota vs. Penn State's RT
The Nittany Lions’ primary right tackle, Caedan Wallace, has been subbed out in the face of speed rushers already this season. He’s strong and heavy, but so are his feet. Leota can beat Wallace off the ball and has a chance at some pressures, sacks tackles for loss. PSU now lists Bryce Effner as a possible starter, in fact, and he actually looked better in one stint as a replacement against Purdue. Effner was just so-so against Ohio last week.
Owen Pappoe vs. Penn State QB Sean Clifford
Most well-developed defensive schemes use the middle linebacker as a secondary contain player once the quarterback breaks the pocket. Pappoe has elite closing speed and can put pressure on Clifford faster than most when he goes on the run. Pappoe's speed can make Clifford a one-dimensional guy.
dfoujsticsepkrotnepf


What I'll be watching ...
• Auburn hasn’t gotten much from the receiving corps so far. To have any chance at all, this group must make some things happen in space and make PSU pay for its aggressiveness.
• Auburn’s most effective running set was the two-tight end Ace set last week. Using this set can help control where and what PSU can do with its safeties. This also negatively affects PSU's linebackers in the run game by moving them out of position horizontally.
• Auburn has played a ton of zone and “off” man coverage so far. That has allowed teams to hit the Tigers with quick passes that are hard to defend — and keep the pass rush from getting home. Auburn must close that space pre-snap, dictate where receivers can release and go and make Clifford hold the ball for a bit longer.
io6loorumnhorxotjkhe


Auburn DE Derick Hall
I sense a break-out game coming — he will get home a few times when PSU tries some of its longer-developing, play-action passes.
Penn State WR Parker Washington
He's going to move around all over the field. Auburn’s secondary has conceded some big plays to Group of 5 athletes out in space already. Washington can make these Tigers pay dearly. If he gashes them more than once, it could be deadly.
Penn State QB Sean Clifford
The veteran quarterback has the traits that already have proven problematic for the AU defense — mobility and a quick release. If Auburn can’t disrupt Clifford and instead gives him the kind of room afforded San Jose State last weekend, he’s going to have a huge game.
arybcuapslmqtb9c1mqr


There is a chance that Jordan-Hare Stadium will be the most hostile environment this PSU team will have ever faced.
There is a chance that Auburn has held a lot back so far this season in preparation for this game.
There is a chance that Auburn had a look-ahead game against SJSU with its eyes on this week.
If all those theoreticals are representative of reality, Auburn can win this game and reset the rudder for this season. I just haven’t seen anything to make me believe anything other than the first theoretical is plausible. This Auburn team seems too flawed at key positions to withstand such an aggressive pressure defense and hasn’t shown enough inclination creating necessary turnovers
I'd love nothing more than to be very wrong here. Nonetheless, I see James Franklin going 2-and-0 against Bryan Harsin.
PSU 27, Auburn 17
It’s a nice article but I’m not sure how good psu is yet at this time , though I am encouraged.
Auburn might have struggled so far but I’m even less certain where they are at. This game will show a lot imo.
 

RickinDayton

Well-Known Member
May 29, 2001
2,711
2,873
1
Auburn fan here. Last year I came over to post this and seemed to have gotten some appreciation for the good read. We have a member on the Bunker that is currently a fb coach. Leading up to the games, he watches game film on the opponents and gives a breakdown/prediction in his series titled KNOW THE ENEMY. These articles have always been much more in depth and detailed than the BS analysis you’ll see elsewhere like “well team A has been tested while team B hasn’t, so I except team A to win”. I apologize in advance of some of the formatting gets screwed up since it’s copy/paste. Anyways, here ya go and I look forward to a great game this weekend.


With pressure mounting almost exponentially and a wave of orange curiosity washing over them, the Auburn Tigers play host to the Nittany Lions of Penn State this weekend as both teams chase a 3-and-0 start to the season.
There is much on the line for both teams.
Quarterback Sean Clifford.





Quarterback Sean Clifford. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
The Lions’ offense is led by super-senior quarterback Sean Clifford. The veteran quarterback’s strengths are his mobility and his accuracy in the quick game; two skills that have already been problematic for the Auburn defense.
Clifford also is effective on play-action passes, which is a major component of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s scheme. He moves tight ends around constantly to create blocking angles and challenges the coverage discipline of safeties.
Penn State has a capable running game that has been serviceable so far this season. They boast two very talented freshmen running backs that have dynamic skill sets. Five-star freshman Nick Singleton is the home-run threat. Fellow freshman Kaytron Allen is a power back with a quick first step that can press gaps vertically and move the line of scrimmage in a hurry.
The effectiveness of the two running backs is what opens the play-action game up for Clifford down field.
Wideout Parker Washington is the team’s most dangerous threat in space. Like his predecessor Jahan Dotson, he will operate from the slot and on the perimeter, he will come in motion to take jet sweeps. He's also a threat on screens. Washington is a mismatch in space with any Auburn defender.
Mitchell Tinsley will pair with Washington and offers a steady, well-refined target that understands how to run routes against zones and get open. Last season, Brenton Strange hurt Auburn from his tight end position motioning across the formation and getting lost on play action — specifically targeting Smoke Monday.
That matchup yielded a long touchdown pass last season.
The team also expects to have the super athletic Theo Johnson available for the first time this season. Johnson is a 6-foot-6 mismatch player who could be a huge factor attacking the middle of the field and in the red zone.
The Lions’ offensive line is solid enough to give them a chance in big games. They’ve rotated seven players consistently so far to accentuate their strengths. Center Juice Scruggs is the anchor and the team’s best people-mover. His ability to push interior defenders off the ball is the most effective part of the Lions’ inside-zone run plays. The guards flanking him haven’t been as effective, especially at climbing off their double teams to get to linebackers.
Safety Keaton Ellis.





Safety Keaton Ellis. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Auburn teams have faced Manny Diaz defenses numerous times. His approach does not change.
He wants to press down on receivers with physical defensive backs to disrupt pass routes and forcefully accelerate the quarterback’s clock. He augments this by bringing multiple (and elaborate) pressures to create sacks, tackles for a loss and turnovers.
His teams don’t play for shutouts. They play to create chaos and opportunity.
Diaz will use three down linemen anchored by a solid space-eating PJ Mustipher and a true edge player, Adisa Isaac, to attack the offensive line. One tackle will line up in 2 or 2i defensive alignments and slant, stunt or twist in some fashion on every play.
Mustipher generally is the guy they ask to force a double-team block and hold it for a linebacker to stay clean. They want to manifest discomfort in their opponents' blocking schemes.
In long-yardage situations, Chop Robinson will become a stand-up, 5-tech guy as a true speed rusher on the edge. He'll even side wider into a “Ghost 9” alignment from time to time. The former Maryland Terrapin is the group's most athletic frontline defender.
Last season the linebacker corps was a legit strength for this team. This year's group has several solid players, but lacks an all-around playmaker like they've had before. Jonathan Sutherland is a lot like Owen Pappoe, even wearing the same number, as an undersized hyper-athletic linebacker that excels at blitzing. Freshman Abdul Carter is wearing the famous No. 11 of Lavar Arrington and Micah Parsons, but hasn’t demonstrated the same level of impact to this point.
Cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Is one of the nation’s best all-around defenders. He is ultra-physical, plays over outside and inside receivers and tackles like a linebacker. He excels in press coverage and has a history of creating takeaways.
The secondary is the team’s best unit.
Ji’Ayir Brown and Keaton Ellis are versatile, play-making safeties that can play near the line of scrimmage or off the ball, blitz or cover receivers across the middle. They allow Diaz a tremendous amount of creativity.
Jake Pinegar has been erratic in his kicking duties for several seasons now. He also has limited range.
PSU will not want to lean on kicking duties to win a game.
Washington as a return man gives the Nittany Lions the advantage in special teams. He is a threat to score anytime he gets a chance to return the ball. Oscar Chapman and Anders Carlson must be deliberate in their efforts to keep the ball out of his hands.
zsiaxw5m8hgbeatm2rmz


Penn State DC Manny Diaz vs. T.J. Finley
Diaz is going to pour the pressure on Finley, force him to make fast decisions and try to exploit his limited mobility. Finley must slow his cadence, see what the defense is doing pre-snap and make quick, accurate throws to exploit PSU's man coverage.
Eku Leota vs. Penn State's RT
The Nittany Lions’ primary right tackle, Caedan Wallace, has been subbed out in the face of speed rushers already this season. He’s strong and heavy, but so are his feet. Leota can beat Wallace off the ball and has a chance at some pressures, sacks tackles for loss. PSU now lists Bryce Effner as a possible starter, in fact, and he actually looked better in one stint as a replacement against Purdue. Effner was just so-so against Ohio last week.
Owen Pappoe vs. Penn State QB Sean Clifford
Most well-developed defensive schemes use the middle linebacker as a secondary contain player once the quarterback breaks the pocket. Pappoe has elite closing speed and can put pressure on Clifford faster than most when he goes on the run. Pappoe's speed can make Clifford a one-dimensional guy.
dfoujsticsepkrotnepf


What I'll be watching ...
• Auburn hasn’t gotten much from the receiving corps so far. To have any chance at all, this group must make some things happen in space and make PSU pay for its aggressiveness.
• Auburn’s most effective running set was the two-tight end Ace set last week. Using this set can help control where and what PSU can do with its safeties. This also negatively affects PSU's linebackers in the run game by moving them out of position horizontally.
• Auburn has played a ton of zone and “off” man coverage so far. That has allowed teams to hit the Tigers with quick passes that are hard to defend — and keep the pass rush from getting home. Auburn must close that space pre-snap, dictate where receivers can release and go and make Clifford hold the ball for a bit longer.
io6loorumnhorxotjkhe


Auburn DE Derick Hall
I sense a break-out game coming — he will get home a few times when PSU tries some of its longer-developing, play-action passes.
Penn State WR Parker Washington
He's going to move around all over the field. Auburn’s secondary has conceded some big plays to Group of 5 athletes out in space already. Washington can make these Tigers pay dearly. If he gashes them more than once, it could be deadly.
Penn State QB Sean Clifford
The veteran quarterback has the traits that already have proven problematic for the AU defense — mobility and a quick release. If Auburn can’t disrupt Clifford and instead gives him the kind of room afforded San Jose State last weekend, he’s going to have a huge game.
arybcuapslmqtb9c1mqr


There is a chance that Jordan-Hare Stadium will be the most hostile environment this PSU team will have ever faced.
There is a chance that Auburn has held a lot back so far this season in preparation for this game.
There is a chance that Auburn had a look-ahead game against SJSU with its eyes on this week.
If all those theoreticals are representative of reality, Auburn can win this game and reset the rudder for this season. I just haven’t seen anything to make me believe anything other than the first theoretical is plausible. This Auburn team seems too flawed at key positions to withstand such an aggressive pressure defense and hasn’t shown enough inclination creating necessary turnovers
I'd love nothing more than to be very wrong here. Nonetheless, I see James Franklin going 2-and-0 against Bryan Harsin.
PSU 27, Auburn 17
Excellent analysis. Thanks for sharing this. My only disagreement, the final score. I think it holds to the point spread if PSU wins. I see a very close game because of the Jordan Hare home field. The major concerns I have for PSU remain:
--RT (turnstile play)
--Clifford's tendencies to hold the ball too long, not step up in the pocket, and his overthrows when pressure mounts.
--LBers (pass coverage and inability to shed blocks)

IF PSU can improve in these areas, they sneak out with the "W"
 

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I read those points more as “a possibility somewhere in the universe” type of statements, not facts. With that said, JHS is regarded by many in the industry as a crazy hostile environment. The stadium is a bit more condensed and captures sound very well. Sadly this game won’t have the full night time experience, but you can expect the Auburn faithful to return the favor to Penn St. Obviously these lists change across sites (some of which are just hilarious) but here’s a couple from a quick search
FR14uJiXsAId99G
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Oh, no! Pitt's #1 and we're only #2. 🤣
 

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