UNIVERSITY PARK — Jordan Hill had heard Temple running back Matt Brown talk trash last season when the Nittany Lions held the then-Owl backup running back to just 15 yards on two carries.
Hill was prepared to deal with Browns smacktalk again Saturday.
And although by Hills admission Brown didnt hush up until the fourth quarter Saturday, Hill and his teammates on the Penn State defense shut him and the rest of the Temple run game down early and often.
The smallish, shifty Temple running back finished with just 26 yards on four carries while teammate Montel Harris was held to just 23 yards on 10 tries as the Penn State defense put on its most dominant performance of the season in a 24-13 win at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State gave up a season-low 237 total yards to the Owls.
We harped on playing hard defense against these guys, Hill said. Because (Brown) is a player that likes to talk a lot and try to get in your head and then make a big play, which is big goal for momentum for their offense. We knew we just had to stop him and if we stopped that it would fall into place.
Penn State opted to blitz down after down, disrupting the Owls timing on most pass plays while forcing Temple ballcarriers to run sideways to avoid Penn States heavy, aggressive linebacker pursuits.
Temple didnt notch a run longer than five yards with a running back until early in the second quarter. Even then, Penn State had surrendered a yard or less on four Temple rush attempts before halftime.
Coming into the game, Penn State defenders were well-versed on Brown and Harriss capabilities. Brown rushed for just under 1,000 yards last season as a backup to current NFLer Bernard Pierce. Harris transferred from Boston College, where he is the all-time rushing leader.
Neither could free themselves of Penn States blanket run coverage. Only quarterback Chris Coyer finished with more than 30 yards, gaining most of those after pass plays broke down and the Nittany Lion defense was deep in coverage.
Those are two good backs that they have and I think we did a great job of containing those guys and really fitting our gaps in the run game, senior linebacker Mike Mauti said. Really, the only couple of plays that hurt us was that quarterback power. He ran up the middle a couple of times on us. So that just comes down to fitting our gaps.
Coyer was ineffective through the air.
He missed two wide-open targets in the first half which could have resulted in touchdowns for the Owls, who were in good field position both times. Coyer was sacked three times, and took a big hit as the second quarter began.
Coyer dropped to throw but was hounded by blitzing linebacker Gerald Hodges. As Coyer released the ball, Hodges exploded into him, knocking him to the turf.
Later on the same drive and inside the Penn State 10-yard-line, Coyer rolled to his left. Before he could find an open target, Mike Hull blew him up for an eight-yard loss. The Owls settled for a field goal.
Our goal is every week to stop the running game and make teams throw the ball on us. Were pretty good against the run, so thats always out goal, Hull said. Anytime you get pressure on the quarterback and hit him a couple of times, its going to make him throw off his back foot and not get everything into it.
Coyer completed just seven of 16 passes the rest of the way and was sacked twice more, fumbling once.
When you blitz, its about the speed of the blitz, the timing of the blitz, Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. Thats what Coach (Ron) Vanderlinden teaches these guys and does a good job coaching them.
Those guys executed today. There were times when we came with three and we were able to make some plays and at times we beat some blocks and at times we hurried the quarterback a little bit.