The Daily Item
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is defensive about his defense.
O’Brien stuck up for defensive coordinator John Butler after a historic defeat that saw the Nittany Lions allow the most points surrendered by the program.
Just this season?
Nope. Try 114 years.
Not only that, but a program built as “Linebacker U” has turned into “U Get to Score,” because of a leaky defense that has allowed 40-plus points in three straight games.
Time to regroup? For sure. But O’Brien also says it’s time to lay off laying the blame at Butler and the defense.
“If anybody should take heat, it’s Bill O’Brien, not John Butler,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “I don’t know where that’s coming from, but hopefully that will get squelched. That’s a bunch of (garbage) that he’s taking heat.”
Turns out, allowing a staggering 686 yards in one game is a pretty good reason for fans to crank the heat on the defensive coordinator. O’Brien said, yes, the defense may need to “simplify things” as it preps for Saturday’s game against Illinois. And yes, the Nittany Lions were “a little soft” in pass coverage. But other than those pesky details, O’Brien said Butler is still the right coordinator for this defense. O’Brien and Butler meet several times a time, every day of the week, to fine tune the defense.
“He’s doing a hell of a job. I don’t care what the scoreboard says or what the yardage says,” O’Brien said. “This guy is our defensive coordinator. He’s my defensive coordinator. I’m proud to coach with him.
“Look, at the end of the day, it wasn’t a great team effort. We didn’t do anything on offense to help the defense either. We scored 14 points, got down 21-0, and we couldn’t even score a touchdown. So it’s a team effort.”
O’Brien shook up the lineup Saturday night and moved Adrian Amos to corner in Trevor Williams’s spot, paring him Jordan Lucas. Lineup shake-ups are always expected out of a defense that has allowed 40, 44, and 63 points in the last three games.