Penn State preparing for Army’s option offense

Army brings a unique challenge to Beaver Stadium.
Danny Wild/Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State’s defense has proven itself tough to run on so far this season, but the Nittany Lions have not faced an attack like the one Army will bring to Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

The Black Knights’ option offense figures to test PSU’s discipline and patience all afternoon. 

"I think the big thing for us is the way you practice," defensive end Garrett Sickels said this week. "We practice hard every play. The games are easier."

He credited that to the philosophy head coach James Franklin has brought in his second year on the job in State College. 

"If we practice hard every play, the games will take care of themselves," Sickell said. "Also the triple option. We just have to be disciplined. Everyone has to take care of their job. Defensive line, linebackers in the back end. We have to do our job every play and we should be fine." 

While Penn State has not faced an option offense this season, Franklin hopes co-defensive coordinator Brent Pry’s experience as an assistant at Georgia Southern — another option team — will help the Nittany Lions prepare. 

"It’s one of these deals where you can’t have just one or two answers," Franklin said. "You’ve got to have a couple different answers of how to defend the fullback dive, how to defend the quarterback, how to defend the pitch, and then how to defend their version of the speed sweeps and things that they do where they motion and then toss the ball out to the guy on the edge. Then once you overcommit to those things, now you’re susceptible to giving up the big play in the passing game." 

So far this season the Black Nights are 1-3 with their victory coming last week at Eastern Michigan. 

They are averaging 294.5 yards per game, good for ninth in the nation, and their 50 percent conversion rate on third downs is 12th. 

Penn State is 15th nationally in total defense (281.8 ypg.) and 14th against the run (90.5 ypg.) 

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