STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Last season was supposed to be a surprise campaign for Addis Isaac, but Penn State’s top defensive end eliminated her on the sidelines with a broken ankle.
Now he’s back and his coaches and teammates know the wait was worth it. The 6-foot-4, 243-pounder has increased his total shots each week and is getting closer and closer to being the explosive factor he was meant to be.
Isaac had three tackles for a loss, including a sack, and two quarterback accelerations against Auburn, game 14th Penn State (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) dominated the streak of scrimmage, winning 41-12. He’ll be looking to add to his totals when Penn State hosts central Michigan (1-2) on Saturday.
“He’s been able to flash and do some really good things and he’s had some great plays for us,” said Penn State coach James Franklin. “But I think you’ll keep seeing it as the year goes on more.”
Chippewas are 6-27 all-time against Big Ten teams and haven’t played a team with as many defensive playmakers as Penn State. So far, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has deemed the opposing fouls commensurate with the pressure of the extra man. While Isaac worked his way back, Diaz regularly requested the corner, safety and snapback.
Cornerback Johnny Dixon leads with two bags and a safety Ji’Ayir Brown has one bag while the linebacker and players are combined for six more. Isaac wants to contribute more.
“It adds a lot to the defense,” said Nick Tarburton, defensive end. “He is very versatile. I think he did a great job not only in the passing game but also in the running game. He was physical and was a great presence.”
Chippewas quarterback Daniel Richardson received some constructive criticism from coach Jim McElwain two weeks ago after the sophomore completed 22 passes out of 44 and took three sacks in a loss to South Alabama. McElwain thought Richardson “grabbed the ball too long” and “didn’t move well in the pocket”.
Richardson is still struggling with his completion percentage against Bucknell, but he answered the call for better footwork and a faster release, two things he will definitely need against the Nittany Lions.
“They’re a football team, and we’ve got our cut-down work for us,” McElwain said.
the strong man
Franklin didn’t realize how hard quarterback Shaun Clifford was injured last week when Auburn defender Owen Papuy hit him through midfield in his first push. Franklin’s eyes initially followed the ball as it bounced away from Clifford, who bounced hard from the grass.
Clifford has shown his strength before, playing through various ailments, but last Saturday’s example stood out, especially considering how he handled the game after a hit.
“I feel like we’re starting to form an identity as a strong, physical team,” Franklin said. “And I know that may not seem to go with that play, but the way Sean bounced right after that was great for me. He took his best shots and bounced back.”
Turn back Devyn Ford among the Nittany Lions looking to play in front of a private group.
Penn State will honor the 1982 National Championship team at the end of the first half. Ford, who has stuck to the program for the past two years even after moving a handful of backpackers due to lack of playing time, respects the traditions in Happy Valley too much to look elsewhere.
“I want them to see the same Penn State blue-collar football team that’s been here since this program started,” Ford said. “Mostly, I want them to see honor and respect for the opponent and the ferocity with which we play and the excitement and behavior. That’s what Penn State offers.”
inside or outside?
Penn State was pulling back on Keyvone Lee last week which is questionable. McElwain expects Chippewas defender Trey Jones to return from an unspecified illness that kept him out last week.
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