UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — When Penn State hired Manny Diaz it came with the promise of aggression and turnovers, which came to fruition on Saturday when Penn State had four takeaways against Auburn.
Freshmen Zakee Wheatley has made an early impact this year with two of Penn State’s five turnovers, which includes a crucial forced fumble in week one against Purdue. Through the spring and training camp Wheatley was known as the “Turnover King.”
“He’s got a knack for finding the ball. We really believe in recruiting defensive backs that we think can play wideout,” said James Franklin. “We think he could and that’s translated. We have a lot of confidence in his ball skills. He’s got a knack for it and he’s always in the right place at the right time.”
Penn State seems to be cashing in on Manny Diaz’s trademark disruptive scheme. Turnovers were something that he was known for at Miami and something you almost expect to come with him running the D.
“With Manny he’s big on causing havoc, causing turnovers, and making the offense feel our presence. And I just feel like starting from the D-line to our linebackers, to the corners, and to the safeties everybody is going 100%, full speed and causing havoc,” said Wheatley. “Like if you go full speed you can get in the right spot at the right time, and I just happened to be near the ball and made a play.”
It’s not just turnovers, Penn State has nine sacks which is second in the Big Ten and they lead the nation with 30 passes defended.
That aggressive defense will face another explosive offense on Saturday in Central Michigan, a team that’s averaging 36 points per game.