Penn State's defense looked on helplessly a week ago as its handiwork was squandered by its offensive counterpart in Charlottesville. The Nittany Lions turned four turnovers into just three points against the Cavaliers, no doubt a frustrating key component in the Lions 17-16 loss.
Hull picked up a Navy fumble and rumbled 74 yards for a score.
This week against Navy, one of the four turnovers that the Nittany Lions 'D' came away with turned into points right away, as Mike Hull picked up a loose ball and raced 74 yards for Penn State's final score.
"It was pretty big, it was awesome," Hull said, describing the footrace to the South end zone. "It was like it was a gift, basically. It was sitting still, I picked it up and took off."
Since not forcing a turnover against Ohio in week one, the Nittany Lions have now picked up six fumbles and two interceptions in the last two games.
"I think it's a combination of a lot of things, but I think what it is is a bunch of players flying to the football and being physical and understanding that when we do that, good things are going to happen," said defensive coordinator Ted Roof. "Momentum is going to get flipped or field position is going to get flipped. We did a good job of taking it away on the short field last week and we scored this week.
"We didn't do a very good job in the first week and that was a factor in the football game. We've gotta keep doing it. I'm proud and happy of the way that we've done it in the last two weeks."
Both Roof and head coach Bill O'Brien pointed to repetition in practice as a reason for the rise in turnovers.
"At the beginning of practice, like most teams in practice, we work on stripping the ball, we work on strip sacks, interception drills, loose ball drills and how to recover the football," said O'Brien. "We talk about the rules and how it relates to turnovers and blocked kicks. It's always emphasized and I think our kids have done a great job of being alert to those things. It's really helped over the last couple of games."
"We drill it, we practice it. We do takeaway circuits and practice when we're going against the offense and the look team," added Roof. "We point it out, we emphasize it and what we do every day is start our unit meetings with takeaways from the previous day just because that's such a critical factor in winning and losing football games."
Penn State still didn't completely cash in on its four opportunities on Saturday, scoring just once after its other three takeaways, but 13 points is a step in the right direction. It's also a confidence builder for the defense.
"We never really got down, we knew we were one play away, two plays away," said linebacker Mike Mauti. "So we're just going to continue to do what we're doing. It's been the senior group that's been holding this team together, it's been the coaches, everybody has had a role in it. We're just sticking together and just going to keep getting better."