Stephon Morris is listed at 5-foot-8, 186 pounds. That means most of the wide receivers, tight ends and running backs the Penn State senior cornerback has to tackle are anywhere from six to 10 inches taller and 20 to 50 pounds heavier.
Stephon Morris has 26 solo stops and 3.5 tackles for loss this season.
But Morris is bringing most of them down most of the time.
With three games left to play, Morris ranks sixth on the team with 37 tackles, only two shy of his career high.
"That's one of the things I really wanted to work on, especially this offseason," Morris said. "One thing I really wanted to improve over past years -- my open-field tackling."
Morris believes the entire secondary has tackled better during the last few weeks than it did earlier in the season, and it will have be sharp again this weekend, when the Nittany Lions visit Nebraska and dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has run for 666 yards this season.
"We know if he gets in the open field, it's going to be hard to tackle him," Morris said. "I've seen him run past a lot of defensive backs."
The other defensive backs are making plays as well. Safety Malcolm Willis has 38 stops and cornerback Adrian Amos has 36. Morris believes the tackling drills the coaches instituted in the spring are paying off now. He also feels the criticism the defensive backs took during bumpy starts against Ohio and Virginia motivated them.
His own improved play, Morris said, is a result of experience and a raised comfort level with the defensive schemes.
"I'm just more confident. When you're a confident player you play faster," he said. "I give all of the credit to my coaches for helping all of us get better at tackling."
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