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When it comes to value, Pry is the top guy at PSU

Who is Penn State’s MVP (Most Valuable Person) so far this season?

By Cory Giger

For the Mirror

The wording of this question is very important.

It’s not most important player. That’s quarterback Sean Clifford, obviously, because we’ve seen why he’s really the most important player to his team’s success in all of college football.

It’s not most valuable player, which I generally deem as the best player. That’s Jahan Dotson, who might be the best wide receiver in Penn State history.

We’re asking about the most important person in the PSU program this season, and my choice is perhaps a little outside the box.

I’m going with defensive coordinator Brent Pry.

I had huge hopes for new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, because I love offense and throwing the ball a lot and scoring a bunch of points. I figured Yurcich’s system would bring all of that, yet the Nittany Lions’ offense has been a massive disappointment this season.

This team cannot run the ball, which is mind boggling. The offense is basically Clifford trying to make a big play to Dotson or bust.

The defense has given the Lions a chance to win every game, including at Ohio State.

Pry deserves a world of credit for this defense, which plays his usual bend but don’t break style. Here’s a look at the Lions’ national ranks:

n 40th in the nation in total defense (350.8 yards per game)

n 45th in pass defense (213.6)

n 49th in run defense (137.2)

None of that looks particularly great. But this stat does:

Penn State ranks 10th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 16.67 points per game. The team has been exceptional in the red zone.

That is the biggest reason why the Lions have a chance to win out and finish 9-3.

Not the offense.

What Pry has done this season has been terrific, all things considered. Two of the leading contenders for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year are Penn State products — Micah Parsons and Odafe Oweh — and Pry has had to find capable replacements for those guys.

The Lions also lost end Adisa Isaac before the season even started, and standout tackle PJ Mustipher is out for the season with an injury.

Despite all of that, Penn State’s defense has been outstanding week in and week out.

Pry’s name has come up for head coaching jobs around the country in years past, and I truly wonder if this offseason will be the time for him to take one of those jobs if available.

Pry could go with James Franklin if he takes another job at USC or LSU. Or Pry could strike out on his own.

Whatever he does, Pry will land in a good position because he’s an outstanding coach.

Pry is actually a better football coach than Franklin when it comes to Xs and Os and decisions and all that. Franklin is a tremendous CEO, and that’s really what’s needed at a lot of places in college football, including Penn State.

Without Pry, one really has to wonder where Franklin would be in his career, and where the Penn State football team would be this season.

Cory Giger is a Penn State beat writer for DK Pittsburgh Sports and host of “Sports Central” weekday afternoons from 4-5 on WRTA. Contact him at cgsports12@aol.com.

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