UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In the offseason, Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes talked about doing everything right. He had enjoyed the success of his redshirt freshman season -- compiling 26 tackles, 10 tackles for losses and 6 sacks, winning the Big Ten Conference's freshman of the year honor for defense -- but he didn't want to regress.
The work hasn't come to fruition thus far, at least statistically. Barnes has five tackles, no tackles for losses and no sacks in three games.
In the offseason, Barnes said he added 5 or 6 pounds of muscle. While last year he said he relied on his physical talents for rushing a quarterback, he wanted to improve on his overall game.
This meant focusing on technique, making sure he knew how to properly turn his hips and where to place his hands. He hoped that this would prevent him from becoming a one-dimensional player and better prepare him for the tackles and tight ends who would inevitably be focusing on him, particularly on rushing plays.
Penn State (2-1) vs. Kent State (1-2), 3:30 p.m. today, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa., Nittany Lions favored by 22.
- TV, Radio, Internet:
Big Ten Network; KQV-AM (1410) and Penn State Sports Network; www.Go-PSUsports.com.
- Penn State:
LB Mike Hull was sore in practice early this week but is likely to play. ... RB Zach Zwinak's 128-yard performance against Central Florida was the seventh 100-yard game of his career. ... On third downs this season, Penn State is 3 for 34. It ranks 122 of 123 Division I-A teams.
- Kent State:
Lost its past two games, to Bowling Green and LSU, by a combined 51 points. ... Dri Archer, a running back and special teams threat and probably Kent State's best player, is unlikely to play. ...Kent State was 11-3 in 2012 but lost 13 starters and head coach Darrell Hazell.
- Hidden stat:
WR Allen Robinson ranks fourth in Division I-A in receiving yards with 405.
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said those offensive tackles are coming after him more than expected for defensive ends. He also said offenses are gearing their attack toward the other side of the defense.
"We've got to do things to move him around and help him out a little bit," O'Brien said. "We will and we have. But Deion to me is playing well."
Whereas Barnes' numbers haven't matched his from 2012, his teammates on the line have been succeeding.
Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones leads the team with 23 tackles and two sacks. Defensive end C.J. Olaniyan has 11 tackles and a sack.
Linebacker Glenn Carson said that it would probably only be a matter of time before Barnes started piling up some of the numbers he proved he could earn last year.
"Sometimes they don't happen right away," Carson said. "I'm sure he's hungry and looking for those big plays to get some of those sacks this year."
Mark Dent: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.