Penn State Nittany Lions football: What's next at defensive tackle with PJ Mustipher out for the season?
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What's next for Penn State's DTs with PJ Mustipher out for the year?

Penn State Nittany Lions football head coach James Franklin revealed that defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is out for the season after suffering what appeared to be a lower-body injury in the first half of last Saturday's game against Iowa.

Penn State must now replace one of the best run-stoppers in college football as well as one of its emotional leaders.

Mustipher was tied for second among Power Five defensive tackles in Pro Football Focus' STOP metric — defined as tackles which constitute a failure for the offense.

With Mustipher sidelined, let's take a look at some of the options Penn State has to replace him alongside Derrick Tangelo on the interior defensive line.

Penn State Nittany Lions football lost DT PJ Mustipher for the season.
Penn State Nittany Lions football lost DT PJ Mustipher for the season.
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Dvon Ellies 

Redshirt sophomore Dvon Ellies is the most obvious next man up for the Nittany Lions at the defensive line position. Ellis has frequently rotated into action, even in meaningful situations, for Penn State in 2021, with 189 snaps to his name so far this season. His injury status will be something to monitor in the weeks ahead. He went down against the Hawkeyes before returning later in the game. A three-star prospect out of high school, Ellies has five total tackles on the season and four QB hurries. He has struggled against the run so far this season, though, according to PFF analysts, with just a 42.0 run defense grade.

Coziah Izzard 

Coziah Izzard is another defensive tackle Penn State football fans will likely see a lot more of this season. Izzard played 35 of Penn State's 78 total snaps against the Hawkeyes last week on defense, bringing his total for the season to 120. A redshirt freshman, Izzard was a four-star prospect according to Rivals analysts. He has five total tackles to his name this season, including a sack against Villanova in Week Four. PFF gives him a 52.5 overall grade through six weeks of action.

Fred Hansard 

By far the most veteran of Penn State's replacement options at defensive tackle is Fred Hansard. A top-150 recruit out of high school according to Rivals, Hansard, a redshirt senior, has played plenty of snaps for the Nittany Lions but has never quite cracked the starting lineup. He has played more sparingly for the Nittany Lions this season, appearing in three games prior to last Saturday, when he was brought on to play two snaps in place of Ellies after he was injured.

Others 

There are two other defensive tackles who have appeared in games for the Nittany Lions this season. The first is Juco transfer Jordan van den Berg, who played nine snaps for Penn State against Ball State in Week Two. The other is Fatorma Mulbah, who has played 35 snaps against Ball State, Villanova and Indiana. That Penn State has not used either of these players in close games to this point in the season would seem to indicate that they are lower on the depth chart than the other names we listed, but they're names to keep an eye on should Penn State's depth at the DT position continue to dwindle.

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