3 biggest Penn State football storylines to follow in 2024 Blue and White Game

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3. Plugging the holes on defense

The Nittany Lions, who are known as “Linebacker U” by many, will be just fine at the linebacker position. But how can Allen and Penn State replace some of the elite talent that the defense lost to the NFL on the first and third levels?

Starting with the defensive line, future first-round pick Chop Robinson’s departure leaves the unit without an anchor in the trenches. While All-American candidate Abdul Carter’s move down to defensive end is a huge boost, the interior has some question marks in terms of production, but not necessarily experience. Seniors Dvon Ellies and Coziah Izzard and junior Zane Durant all have four or more years of college football under their belts and will get an opportunity to headline a rushing defense that has ranked top five in the conference each year since 2020. How much of an impact this rotation makes this Saturday and beyond is something to put a pin in.

The secondary should remain one of the Big Ten’s strongest, but having to replace Kalen King, Johnny Dixon, and Daequan Hardy is a handful. Fortunately, the Nittany Lions juiced up the secondary this offseason by signing two notable SEC cornerbacks in former five-star A.J. Harris (Georgia) and Jalen Kimber (Florida) in the transfer portal.

These are two key additions that instantly revitalizes a talented, but raw secondary that also includes Cam Miller and two freshmen in Elliot Washington II and Zion Tracy.

Kimber is now the most experienced cornerback on the Penn State roster. A true outside, man-cover defensive back, Kimber allowed just 20 catches and three touchdowns on 35 targets across 533 snaps, which is exactly the type of experience and leadership that the Nittany Lions need at this level. Either Harris or Miller are projected to be the CB2 on the opposite side, which should be an interesting position battle over the next few months.

Next. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. dark