Takeaways, yes. Red-zone havoc, abso-freaking-lutely. But Pro Football Focus is offering up at least one other answer for why Penn State’s defense has jumped from inconsistency last fall to dominance this year:
“The defense is averaging 6.5 missed tackles per game. Last season the average was 11.1,” PFF Big Ten analyst Josh Liskiewitz told Land of 10 when asked about the third-ranked Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 conference). “So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.”
The Lions’ tackling efficiency, as tracked by PFF, currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten. Point of comparison: Penn State finished 13th out of 14 league teams in that same category at the end of the 2016 regular season.
Michigan leads the league — and the Football Bowl Subdivision — with just 4.2 missed tackles per game; Iowa is last in the league with 9.8 whiffs per contest, in part because Lions star Saquon Barkley was responsible for 15 of them all by himself when he ran circles around the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23.
“There’s no question they’re better than last year,” Liskiewitz noted. “That doesn’t mean they’re good.”
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