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Secondary to face another big test

Adrian Amos was watching last Saturday's LSU-Georgia game when he spotted a cornerback who wasn't in the right spot to help out the safety. He turned to his younger teammates, Jordan Lucas and Trevor Williams, and explained to them how they should handle that situation should they encounter it on the field.

Amos said the bye week helped him get even more comfortable at safety.

It was a quick lesson for two promising young cornerbacks that still have a lot of learning to do, given by a Nittany Lion veteran who is at the same time still figuring out a few things at his new position.

"It's definitely a learning experience," Amos said Wednesday of his offseason move from corner to strong safety. "I have to worry about a lot more within the defense. I've started picking up more, especially with the bye week. It helped me learn my assignments and learning the different techniques of the position."

Penn State's secondary will take center stage when the Nittany Lions visit Indiana and the Big Ten's top passing attack this Saturday. The unit had plenty of trouble with Blake Bortles and Central Florida but rebounded to hold Kent State to 134 yards passing and 3.7 yards per pass attempt the following week.

The defensive backs have had an extra week to prepare for a Hoosier attack that averages 348.5 yards through the air per game and has already put up 14 passing touchdowns in four games.

"I just think we have to handle the tempo," Lucas said. "They're going to try to get the ball to playmakers out in space. that's what the game is going to be. … They're going to make some catches. The key is to get them down after they make the catch."

The Nittany Lions know this will be the fastest offense -- in terms of how little time it takes between plays -- they will face this season. But they've practiced against a Penn State offense that can crank up the tempo as well; Indiana ranks second in the Big Ten in offensive plays per game (76.5), while Penn State is fourth (74.3).

"NASCAR seems normal to us now," Amos said. "The uptempo is what we see every day in practice. Even (during) the regular periods we're moving fast, so it's not as big of an adjustment."

Lucas was impressed by the blocking of Indiana's receivers, particularly on bubble screens and "jailbreak" screens to 5-foot-7 waterbug Shane Wynn. The defensive backs won't be able to rely on the front seven to get much pressure on Indiana quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson, who rarely hold the ball for long, but the big men still plan to throw off the rhythm off the offense but blocking passing lanes and trying to knock down those short throws at the line.

"That ball's gonna come out quick," defensive tackle DaQuan Jones said. "In probably three seconds you've got to watch the quarterback and get your hands up."

Defensive coordinator John Butler will have some interesting options from a personnel standpoint this week. The return of outside linebacker Mike Hull means that Stephen Obeng-Agyapong can move back to safety, which will be big with safety Ryan Keiser out with a hand injury. He could also move Amos from safety to corner and back again, as he has in previous games this season.

"The plan was I just do whatever the coaches want me to do," Amos said. "I always expected to play both positions. I'm not anticipating playing more (corner) or anything this week."

The coaches once again stressed the importance of being in the right spots when it comes to tackling, but the biggest key to slowing down or stopping Indiana's offense might be what the Nittany Lions do in those short windows of time before the ball is snapped.

"We just all have to communicate with each other," Lucas said, "make sure everybody on the field is echoing the call because we have to react very fast. Everyone has to communicate properly so we can handle the tempo."

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