Penn State Nittany Lions football: Brent Pry Notebook: Thoughts on Penn State football sack totals, recruiting
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Brent Pry Notebook: Thoughts on Penn State football sack totals, recruiting

Penn State Nittany Lions football defensive coordinator Brent Pry met with the media on Thursday to discuss his team's pass rushing philosophy, recruiting methods, and more.

Let's dive into what Pry had to say:

Penn State Nittany Lions football: Brent Pry talks sacks, blitzing, recruiting and more
Penn State Nittany Lions football: Brent Pry talks sacks, blitzing, recruiting and more
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1. Sack totals a concern? 

Penn State football's sack totals don't jump off the scoresheet, with the Nittany Lions getting to the quarterback just six times this season through four games.

Pry was asked whether he's satisfied with the production he's getting in that regard, and explained that Penn State adjusted its priorities on defense ahead of the 2020 season in order to sell out for sacks less and contain quarterbacks better.

Pry said he wasn't aware of Penn State's sack totals, and that he looks for other benchmarks to make judgements, such as total pressures.

The Nittany Lions have 59 total pressures through four games according to pro football focus, which has also translated into 21 hits on the quarterback and 34 hurries.

"I'm looking at, when we've got one-on-ones, how many of those are we winning?" Pry said. "And how timely are we winning them? It doesn't always equate to sack. For me, a win isn't necessarily a sack, it's just a quarterback pressure."

2. Recruiting hybrids 

Something that is common when you look at Penn State football's defense is guys who can play more than one position on the field.

Among those "hybrids" is Jesse Luketa, previously a linebacker who started practicing at defensive end ahead of this season.

Pry feels that move started a domino effect that has helped his defense considerably this season. He feels Curtis Jacobs offers more at the Sam linebacker spot than Brandon Smith, that Smith offers more at the Will linebacker spot than Luketa, and that Luketa's strengths are best underlined when he's playing end.

There are several other guys who Pry feels like could play more than one position on his roster — and some, like Nick Tarburton and Zuriah Fisher, have done so.

"It's something we look for in recruiting," Pry said. "We've found a lot of value in that. You go back to Cam Brown and guys who were high school ends but had the ability to stand up. Micah Parsons played linebacker and Jesse's a guy who would have been a very good player as an end his whole career.

"The rush ability of those guys is important. Whether they're on the edge or rushing inside, that rush ability is important. For guys that are defensive ends, the linebacker traits are important because of how we defend spread offenses. You look out there, our defensive ends are in a two-point stance a lot.

"We're asking those guys to do a lot."

3. Blitzing more 

Pry said Penn State football's blitz percentage had hovered around 40 percent for much of his time here.

This year, he thinks it's closer to 50 percent.

Why?

Well, Penn State's secondary is one that Pry really trusts, and he also would like to see his defensive line win more one-on-ones than they are at the moment, without Adisa Isaac who is out for the season.

"The third piece would be we're trying to give the offensive play caller and the QB more to look at," he said. "For a lot of years, it was rush four and play coverage and it was pretty easy to identify that before the ball was snapped, that's who we were going to be.

"We felt like, against these spread teams especially, we had to have more variety, give some tougher looks."

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