DaQuan Jones said Indiana might be the fastest-paced offense Penn State faces this season, but he’s had an extra week to prepare.
“We just got to go out there and get our hands up and block passes and stuff like that if we can’t get to the quarterback,” Jones said.
Adds coach Bill O’Brien: “[Indiana] has two good running backs, a good quarterback that's playing well, a couple of good receivers, good tight ends. So they get you into situations where you're going to have to make plays in space, so handling the tempo and being able to tackle in space and not give up a ton of explosive plays is a big part of the game plan.”
Jones will attempt to disrupt the Hoosiers’ top-ranked conference offense, led by quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Indiana averages 547.2 yards per game to lead the Big Ten.
Indiana doesn’t have a scoring drive longer than 3:53 this season, so O’Brien said it’s important for his offense to mix up the pace so the defense has sufficient rest.
Indiana’s own defense is 11th in the conference, so Penn State’s chances to score are better than usual when they have the ball. Jones said it’s the Nittany Lion defense’s responsibility to force turnovers and slow down the tempo of the game.
The Lions have struggled to pressure opponents into mistakes for the first four games this season. Their turnover margin sits at minus-3 in the Big Ten.
The defensive line’s turnover drought has dragged on for the whole season. They have yet to force a fumble in their campaign to sack the quarterback this season.
However, the bye week offers Jones and his teammates more time to study Indiana, and respond accordingly Saturday.
“Personally for me, we get the extra week to study them and really just to see what they do up front with the o-line,” he said. “So I really feel pretty good about them.”