PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Linebacker Jason Cabinda found Evan Schwan in the locker room Saturday night. After Penn State’s 39-0 win over Rutgers, Cabinda had a message for the defensive end and his teammates on the line.
“Cabinda came up to me and he was like, ‘Man, y’all played so well I only had like two tackles,’ because the ball wasn’t spitting out to his end,” Schwan recalled. “It goes to show how hard we played up front.”
“They were out of their minds. The rotation there is deep, to, so it didn’t matter who was in there. They were just in there and playing destructive,” Cabinda said. “There were plays where I didn’t even engage blocks because they were making the tackles so deep in the backfield.”
The defensive line dominated in the Nittany Lions’ snowy, windy romp of the Scarlet Knights, who have yet to win a Big Ten game this season.
“I don’t know the numbers,” said defensive tackle Parker Cothren, “but I don’t feel like they had many yards.”
Cothren, who logged three tackles himself, was right about that. Penn State held Rutgers to 87 total yards and five first downs. The defense recorded two sacks and four quarterback hurries.
“I thought the defense played well,” coach James Franklin said. “That was a challenging weather situation for both offenses.”
Franklin said he didn’t know if he had ever been a part of such a dominant defensive performance as a coach. Cothren couldn’t remember contributing to such a showing either
The tackles felt especially confident, Cothren said, having seen how effectively the ends were getting to the quarterback.
“If we can clog up the middle, they’re going to get there on the edge,” Cothren said. “And that is a great feeling as a D-tackle.”
And as Penn State heads into its final regular season game, a matchup with Michigan State at Beaver Stadium next Saturday, the defense has never felt more confident.