STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos continued his fine play Saturday for the Penn State defense, controlling Maryland's rushing game in the Nittany Lions' 38-3 victory.
Gross-Matos accounted for a team-high 3.5 of the Lions' 15 tackles for loss in the game. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound sophomore finished the regular season with 20 tackles for loss, the 11th player in program history to reach that total in a season.
Sixteen of those tackles for loss were in the last seven games.
"He just continues to get better," coach James Franklin said. "He gets better because of his off-season work. He gets better because of the way he practices every single day."
Franklin even added Gross-Matos in a category with former running back Saquon Barkley and current quarterback Trace McSorley.
"Those guys just get better," Franklin said. "They don't waste six months. They don't waste a year questioning things. Just goes to work. Obviously, he has a lot of ability."
Gross-Matos went into the game sixth in the Big Ten with eight sacks, a big jump from his 1.5 sacks in his freshman season.
"I think there were a lot of opportunities for me to make plays earlier in the season, and it just progressed," Gross-Matos said. "I started making those plays more often. It was just learning and gaining experience."
Linebacker Koa Farmer said if he could describe Gross-Matos as a player in one word it would be "beast" or "animal."
"Maryland was a big jet [sweep] team, and the way he just stopped the jet from the field, it was like taking candy away," Farmer said. "Like, 'If you're going to keep running this play, I'm going to keep tackling you.' "
Before this game, Maryland had more than 300 yards rushing in each of its last two games. The Nittany Lions defense was able to hold the Terrapins to just 74 rushing yards. Gross-Matos said the game couldn't have gone any better.
"A huge emphasis for us this week was to stop the run," he said. "In the last couple games they've had offensively, [running back Anthony McFarland] has been exploding all over. So I think we came out and played well."
Over the last two weeks, the defense has a total of 26 tackles for loss, something Gross-Matos is proud of.
"We go out there, and we have the mindset that the opposing offense's game plan is just not going to work for them," Gross-Matos said, "that we're going to stop whatever their identity is."