Bigger role in store for reserve on Penn State defense

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On Wednesday at practice, defensive tackle Jordan Hill wore a hoodie with no helmet as the team stretched. When positional drills began, he went inside Holuba Hall. It was not a positive sign for a player who is recovering from a knee injury.

While Hill's status is still considered day to day, James Terry is preparing for a greater workload at defensive tackle. He has played plenty of snaps as a reserve, but he could get his first primary role today against No.18 Nebraska.

"I've always been looking forward to it," he said.

Terry, a redshirt senior, started playing in 2009, spending some time on the offensive line but finishing the year as a defensive tackle. Back then, he learned from Jared Odrick and Ollie Ogbu. In '10, he got his first start but mainly played behind Devon Still and Ogbu. Last year, Hill and Still were the primary defensive tackles.


Scouting report
  • Matchup: Penn State (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) vs. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1), 3:30 p.m. today, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska is favored by eight.
  • TV, Radio, Internet: ESPN2; KQV-AM (1410) and Penn State Sports Network; www.Go-PSUsports.com.
  • Penn State: Lost to Nebraska, 17-14, a year ago in the first game after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke. ... A victory gives Penn State its third undefeated road record since joining the Big Ten. ... WR Allen Robinson has 57 catches this season. The school season record, held by O.J. McDuffie and Bobby Engram, is 64.
  • Nebraska: QB Taylor Martinez averages 74 rushing yards per game and 215 passing yards. ... Has come back from double-digit deficits in the second half three times in Big Ten play. ... Star RB Rex Burkhead has missed the past two games with a knee injury and is considered day to day.
  • Hidden stat: Penn State and Nebraska have played 14 times and each team has seven wins. Nebraska is 4-2 at Memorial Stadium against Penn State.

"I think it helped me improve my game a lot," Terry said. "I feel like we try to pick up little things."

And this season it has been Hill and Daquan Jones, but Terry has had his moments. Against Ohio State he sacked quarterback Braxton Miller for a 3-yard loss in the first half. He has 12 tackles this season in addition to that sack.

Terry said he has been practicing with the first team all week and expects to get 50-plus snaps. He can't remember getting more than 45 in a game before. He also expects backup defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz to get more playing time. Coach Bill O'Brien trusts both of them.

"They accept their role and they do -- they try to excel in their role, and they've made plays for us this year," O'Brien said.

Terry considers himself a power tackle, one who thrives off an aggressive playing style. He'll have to use his instincts to good effect. As a reserve, he said, he usually gets the opportunity to see the tempo of the game, to evaluate the opponent a little more before going in. That won't be the case if he starts today.

It will be a change, one he has anticipated for years, and one he's confident he's ready for.

"It's more of an extended role," he said. "It's my time to step up and do my thing."

psusports

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com and Twitter: @mdent05.


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