Penn State Sports from WPSU

October 24, 2011
09:18 AM

Penn State vs Illinois Preview

Posted by Joe Chuba

Nittany Lion play-by-play voice Steve Jones analyses Penn State’s primetime win over Northwestern, and previews Illinois.

I think we all know the defense has bailed out the offense this season.  Saturday night the offense bailed out the defense.  Penn State moved to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the leaders.
There certainly was a sense Penn State would be able to move the ball, and they did, scoring on six consecutive possessions. 
Matt McGloin went wire to wire at quarterback, and managed the game well including a couple of improvised plays where he ran for a first down, and another when he hit Devon Smith for a big play off of a scramble.  Smith stepped up with a big night, six catches for a career high 110 yards.  With Derek Moye out someone needed to step up and Smith has done that. 
Silas Redd is having a fine season.  He has put together four straight 100-yard rushing games.  Saturday night was a career best 164-yards.  He is explosive and you can see the patience in his game developing. Michael Zordich had a big game blocking for Redd on Saturday night. Let’s give plenty of credit to the offensive line for the holes and for the protection.  Penn State has given up just seven sacks this season.
The defense was on the ropes in the first half, but Nick Sukay’s play in the endzone near the end of the first half forced a field goal.  That opened the door for the offense to put together a one-minute drill to take the lead. 
Once again the Penn State defensive coaches made great halftime adjustments against Northwestern.  For the third straight year Northwestern did not score a point in the second half against Penn State. 
Devon Still and Jordan Hill were outstanding again.  They led a defense that registered seven sacks.  Gerald Hodges is becoming a real force at linebacker.  He had 14 tackles and the big interception. 
Illinois got off to its best start in 60 years when they got out of the gate 6-0.  Ohio State and Purdue have beat them in the last two.  Last year in Beaver Stadium Illinois absolutely dominated Penn State.  It wasn’t close. 
Nathan Scheelhasse is the leader at quarterback.  He has hit 65% of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.  His favorite target, without question, has been A.J. Jenkins.  Jenkins has 62 catches and is 13 yards away from 1,000 for the season.  Half of Scheelhaase’s completions are to Jenkins.
Scheelhaase also leads the team in rushing.  Jason Ford, Troy Pollard, and Donovan Young have also been very productive in the running game.  Pollard is averaging 9 yards per carry. 
The Illinois defense has been very good.  They have 13 takeaways so far with 7 interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries.  Jonathan Brown leads the way with 58 tackles on a defense that gives up just 102 yards per game rushing.  Tavon Wilson is a big play guy on this defense, and Trulon Henry leads the team with two interceptions.
Illinois so far has not been able to get much out of their return game.  Punter Justin DuVernois may not kick for distance, but gives up very few return yards.  Derek Dimke has been perfect this season with seven for seven on field goals, and 26 for 26 on extra points while being outstanding on kickoffs.
Penn State is now playing for something, and Saturday, like they all are down the stretch, is another very big game.

Tags: pennstate | footbal | nittanylions | illinois | bigten | bigten | smith | redd | joepaterno | mcgloin | nittanylions | still |

{name} Author: Joe Chuba
Bio: Sports Producer for WPSU-TV

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