However teams are preparing to play against Barnes, the lack of production is an oddity for the 6-4, 245-pound redshirt sophomore. Barnes totaled 10 tackles for a loss last season, and did not go more than two games in a row without bringing a player down behind the line of scrimmage.
Barnes has hurried the quarterback a few times this season, and had a sack slip through his hands against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 7. Senior linebacker Glenn Carson stressed the same patience O'Brien had about Barnes, and noted the lineman is ready to make the kind of plays he was accustomed to last season.
"I don't see any frustration out of him," Carson said. "I'm sure he's really anxious to start making those big plays. Sometimes, it doesn't happen right away. It's not necessarily a reflection of how he's playing. He's just not had those opportunities yet. I'm sure he's hungry."
Barnes was part of a Penn State defense that was cut apart for 507 yards in a 34-31 loss to Central Florida on Saturday. O'Brien noted after the game he would spend a lot of time in the film room to see what went wrong, and said he had a better idea of the problems at his weekly news conference yesterday. The second-year coach noted his team's tackling has to improve, which was evident against UCF.
Penn State had its practice technique of "thud" tackling called into question after its first defeat of the season. "Thud" is a practice that has defenders wrap up ballcarriers, but doesn't have them taken to the ground. O'Brien said it is commonplace on football practice fields across the country, and the issue has to do with being out of position in games, not the way his team runs drills.
"There's hundreds of teams out there that practice the same way we practice," O'Brien said. "It's not unique at all. I've been places where we never hit. I've been places where we hit every day and we couldn't tackle anybody."
The Lions will attempt to bounce back Saturday in its final nonconference tuneup against Kent State. Carson said the defense didn't play "Penn State football" in the loss to UCF. But the linebacker was trying to take some positives from the defeat, noting it may be a "blessing in disguise."
"That loss was humbling to us," Carson said. " . . . I think taking that feeling after the game and trying to never feel that again for the rest of the season is the biggest thing that we'll take."
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