There's extra attention, and then there's the attention Jordan Hill was receiving from opposing offensive lines the last few weeks.
Watching Devon Still (71) helped Jordan Hill (47) learn how to deal with double-teams.
Teams would double-team Penn State's playmaking defensive tackle. They would triple-team him. They would run plays away from him, then double-team him anyway.
"It's definitely different from what I'm used to," Hill said Tuesday, "but it's something I've been working on."
It isn't as though Hill hasn't been making plays -- he leads all Penn State defensive linemen with 17 tackles through the first four games, and his per-game average of 4.25 tackles is nearly equal to his 4.59 average from last season. He had seven stops and a forced fumble in last week's win against Temple.
Still, it's been an ongoing mental adjustment for the senior from Steelton.
"It's really frustrating just because i felt like I wasn't being productive at all," he said. "It was more of a behind-the-scenes type of things I was doing rather than making plays."
The key to dealing with the double-teams, said Hill, is focusing on taking on one blocker. He understands that the more attention defenses pay to him, the more opportunities there will be for his teammates. Playing alongside current NFL linemen Jared Odrick and Devon Still earlier in his career, he was the beneficiary of many those opportunities.
"Knowing that somebody is game-planning again you is a good thing, I guess," he said, laughing. "It has to leave somebody open, whether it's another defensive tackle or another defensive end or a linebacker. You can't be selfish about it, because that means you're doing your job."
Hill will lead the Penn State defense into Champaign this Saturday to take on what has been an erratic Illinois offense. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who has rushed for a total of 150 yards in two career games against the Nittany Lions, has split time with backup Reilly O'Toole this season. Illinois' rushing attack is producing just 3.2 yards per carry.
"It's a big zone power team," Hill said. "A lot runs off their quarterback. They'll switch a play, change a call, reverse it, do certain stuff based on where we're lined up. We've got to prepare for anything."
Hill will prepare for some extra attention from the Fighting Illini. And from everyone else on Penn State's remaining schedule.
"It's not gonna stop," he said. "It's going to keep happening."
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