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Chop Robinson shares what Penn State defense found to become unstoppable

Penn State football has played dominant defense this season. Recently, Chop Robinson explained what the defense “found” to become “unstoppable.”



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Penn State defenders (from left) Chop Robinson, Abdul Carter and King Kobe pursue Delaware running back Kyron Cumby in the second quarter at Beaver Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023 in University Park, Pa.

Penn State football arguably has the best defense in America through four games of the 2023 season. Particularly strong performances in back-to-back weeks have vaulted the Nittany Lions to the top of many major statistical categories. If it feels like the Penn State defense has flipped a switch in recent weeks, you’re right. After the dominant Iowa performance, Penn State star Chop Robinson explains what the defense has “found” that has led to its success this year. 

Dominating defense leads the way for Penn State

Strong defenses have always been a calling card of the Penn State football program, but this 2023 unit has taken things to another level. The Nittany Lions lead the nation in first downs allowed, turnover margin, pass defense, and total defense through four games. Penn State also finds itself in the top 20 nationally of most other major statistical categories on defense

The unit has started to assert its dominance over the last two weeks. Defensive prowess overcame a sluggish offensive outing at Illinois. Penn State held the Illini to 78 rushing yards and forced five turnovers en route to a 30-13 road win. 

However, even that performance doesn’t compare to what we saw against Iowa last weekend. The Nittany Lions held the Hawkeyes to 33 total plays, a mark eclipsed by most teams in a single quarter. Penn State allowed 76 total yards (56 passing and 20 rushing) and four total first downs to go with four more turnovers on the night. Not surprisingly, Iowa was shut out for the first time since 2000

Chop Robinson explains what has led to defensive explosion

Even to the outside eye, it’s clear that the Penn State defense has discovered a recipe for success in recent weeks. After the Nittany Lions’ dominating win over Iowa, we asked star DE Chop Robinson if he could pinpoint what has led to the defense’s elevation of play. His answer was less about scheme or personnel, and more about leadership.

“I would say coming together as a defense,” Robinson said as the critical factor to the success of his side of the ball. “Last year, [what] we had with PJ [Mustipher] and Ji’Ayir Brown, that chemistry we built all together and just having fun and really enjoying it. I think we really found that this year [now]. It was hard, a little bit at first, because the older leaders left. But once we found that, and that chemistry came back, we’re just unstoppable once everybody is having fun together.”

As for the catalyst of this mentality switch, Robinson attributed it to the advice from DC Manny Diaz before the Illinois game. “Coach Diaz’s message to us was, ‘Just have fun and just play free. Don’t overthink. Don’t try to be perfect,'” Robinson relayed to us. “And then once everybody started doing that, you started to see turnovers happening, and everybody was celebrating together. You just started to see the chemistry and the brotherhood we have.”

This week, the Nittany Lion defense will have the opportunity to pin its ears back once against Northwestern, a team that is statistically one of the worst offenses in the Big Ten. Kickoff between Penn State football and the Wildcats is set for Saturday at noon.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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