Slowing Saquon: Big Ten defenses bracing for more difficult encounters with Penn State star Saquon Barkley in 2017
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley runs through a set of Wisconsin defenders during the second quarter of the Big Ten Championship held at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 3, 2016.
Joe Hermitt | email@example.com
CHICAGO — No team did a better job of slowing Penn State star runner Saquon Barkley than Indiana.
Hard to believe? Maybe. But the numbers are what they are — Barkley was held to 58 yards on 33 carries during the Lions’ 45-31 victory in Bloomington last fall.
Expect a different outcome if Barkley and the Hoosiers collide again. They are scheduled to meet in State College in late September.
New Indiana coach Tom Allen knows what he’s up against in Barkley, the Heisman contender who racked up nearly 1,900 yards running and receiving in 2016.
Allen was the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator last season. IU features two of the Big Ten’s best individual talents in linebacker Tegray Scales and corner Rashard Fant.
“(Barkley) was impressive last year and he’s even stronger, it looks like,” Allen said during Big Ten Media Days.
“It’s hard with the spread offenses, you have to account for the quarterback and everyone else. It’s just getting enough guys to him.”
“(Barkley’s) a competitor,” said Scales, who had 23.5 tackles for loss last season.
” The Big Ten’s full of competitors and he’s just different. He’s a great competitor that likes to win.”
Wisconsin standout linebacker T.J. Edwards is not scheduled to see Barkley this year but the two teams could meet again in the Big Ten title game. Penn State won last season in Indianapolis, 38-31, and Barkley ran for 83 yards and a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass on the Badgers.
“He’s a tough guy,” Edwards said of Barkley.
“He can move laterally, he can move forward. He’s a powerful guy.
So overall, they’ve got a great offense with their quarterback (Trace McSorley) and their running back, so you never know what’s coming at you.”
Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards on Saquon Barkley