Penn State defense looking impressive again

Penn State cornerback Adrian Amos is one of the mainstays on defense Keith Srakocic / AP
Penn State cornerback Adrian Amos is one of the mainstays on defense Keith Srakocic / AP (AP)
Posted: August 23, 2013

The Penn State defense could have sported the tag "Eleven Forgotten Men" throughout preseason camp with all the attention centered on the battle for starting quarterback.

However, the defense, in addition to having a front-row seat to the competition between sophomore Tyler Ferguson and freshman Christian Hackenberg, has thrived both in the trenches, where it has battled an experienced and talented offensive line, and in the secondary covering people such as Allen Robinson, last year's Big Ten receiver of the year.

Right now, the unit will accept the "forgotten" tag.

"Both our quarterbacks have looked really good and are doing a great job," junior linebacker Mike Hull said Wednesday. "Coach [Bill] O'Brien is doing a great job. So that's all right. We like being overlooked because it means we can sneak up on some people."

That's not too likely. The defense returns a solid pass-rusher in Philadelphia's Deion Barnes, a run-stopper in 318-pound tackle DaQuan Jones, the usual set of outstanding linebackers led by Hull and middle man Glenn Carson, and a versatile safety in Adrian Amos.

Amos, a junior who played cornerback last year, will be at safety, corner, and perhaps even linebacker as the Nittany Lions change looks.

"I've been practicing everything so I know all of the positions," Amos said. "We've been practicing all the packages so I'm ready to go wherever I'm needed. . . . In nickel packages I'm covering slot receivers, but I haven't been playing linebacker."

Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, another safety, has lined up at a linebacker spot in practice "just in case we need to go there," Hull said.

The defense now is led by John Butler, a Montgomery County native and La Salle College High graduate, who was promoted from secondary coach to coordinator after Ted Roof left last January for Georgia Tech. Hull called him "an in-your-face kind of guy."

"He's doing a great job teaching us the overall defense," Hull said. "He's a great coach. Each semester he's kind of added a little bit more. We've been able to understand the defense and we're making plays."

Because of ankle and hamstring problems, Amos has been held out of contact recently, but he called it "just a precaution for the season. We're just all trying to be healthy for Syracuse," the Aug. 31 season opener.

Contact Joe Juliano at Follow on Twitter @JoeJulesInq

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