The Penn State Nittany Lions will play versus the Maryland Terrapins with a number of players missing from the defensive side of the football.
Linebackers Jake Cooper, Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell in addition to cornerbacks Christian Campbell and Amani Oruwariye will all miss Penn State’s latest conference matchup while linebackers Nyeem Wartman-White and Jan Johnson are notably sidelined with season-ending injuries.
The plethora of defenders being cast away from action has hurt Penn State, who will enter the weekend with a 3-2 record. Head coach James Franklin has had a hard time getting the defense up to par. It is a unit that came into Week 6 allowing 31.4 points per game, which ranks 86th in the nation. The blow to the linebackers group has equated to group that is surrendering 216.6 yards on the ground through the first five weeks.
Despite holding Kent State to 13 points in their season-opener, Penn State has squandered 26 points or more in each of their last four games.
Perhaps the biggest loss on the season is the injury to Wartman-White. He has been plagued by health issues for much of his career. After blocking a punt in his first game as a true freshman, Wartman-White suffered a season-ending injury the following week. Last year, the linebacker went down with a torn ACL in the first week of the season. He has collected 124 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss over his 24 career games, however.
Penn State will have to get it figured out sooner rather than later during the current logjam that is Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions are forced to battle Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State later in the year as well.