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Thud conspiracy debunked by former PSU WR Williams

September 17, 2013 - Cory Giger
The thud conspiracy has been ramping up in recent days, with everyone looking for something to blame for Penn State's poor tackling in Saturday's loss to Central Florida.

So many people, particularly in the media, keep assuming it has to be because of all the thud work and less hitting in practice.

Maybe it's true. We can never know for sure.

Or maybe it's simply that we in the media don't have any clue, so we're all just jumping on the easiest excuse available.

Here's the real news, according to former PSU receiver Derrick Williams: The Nittany Lions have been doing thud for a long time and never really tackled all the way to the ground in practice during his career.

Williams played with some of the best linebackers in Penn State history from 2005-08 – current NFL standouts Sean Lee, Paul Posluszny, Navorro Bowman – and he said he was never tackled by any of them in practice. Joe Paterno wouldn't allow it.

"We never tackled. Never," Williams said on my radio show Monday.

"Paul never tackled in practice," he added. "Sean Lee never tackled in practice. Navorro never tackled in practice. never. I remember one time when we were in practice Navorro did drag me down, and Joe kicked his butt out of practice."

Williams then did his version of the high-pitched Paterno impression of what the coach told Bowman.

"Get outta here," he said with a laugh.

The Lions did have occasional periods of live hitting, Williams said, but rarely.

"Never hit during the season," he said. "Rarely hit during the offseason. College, NFL, doesn't happen. You want to save your guys."

So why is all of this with thud becoming such an issue now?

"It's not new," Williams said. "It might be new to you guys [in the media]."

That's probably a big part of it. We in the media have never known what goes on at Penn State's practices because they were always closed under Paterno. If the Lions were hitting a ton or doing thud, we would never really have known.

But coach Bill O'Brien made it a point of emphasis before the season how much thud work he would have to do because of the sanctions and limited scholarships.

So, all of a sudden, the media had a built-in excuse in case the defense struggled.

And sure enough, when it did struggle Saturday, the thud stuff has taken a lot of the blame.

It could have some impact, sure.

But really, the more likely issue is that Penn State's defense just isn't as good this season as in recent years. There are a lot of young or inexperienced players in key spots who are being asked to do things they've never done. Add in that linebacker Mike Hull clearly wasn't 100 percent, and all of it leads to mistakes.

And it leads to a lot of mistakes when you're playing a good opponent, such as Central Florida.

The Knights' offensive players were better than Penn State's defensive players. Plain and simple.

Blame the loss and all the missed tackles on that, not thud.

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