It says in Penn State's media guide that sophomore cornerback Jordan Lucas hopes to one day become a broadcaster, so the question put to him during a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning was this: If he were behind the microphone instead of in front of it, how would he describe the Nittany Lions' defensive effort in last Saturday's 34-31 loss to Central Florida?
He chuckled, then plunged in, though not while using a voice borrowed from Bob Costas, Mike Tirico or (heaven forbid) Skip Bayless.
It just wasn't Penn State's defense, he said. We weren't executing. We didn't make plays when we had the ability to make (them), and that's it. That's all I can really say about that.
The Lions allowed 507 yards in the game -- 288 through the air to Blake Bortles, UCF's excellent quarterback, and 219 on the ground. Storm Johnson accounted for 117 of those rushing yards, including a 58-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Lucas was on the receiving end of Johnson's stiffarm as the Knights back rumbled down the right sideline to the end zone. And in the third quarter Lucas and safety Malcolm Willis whiffed on tackle attempts, allowing wide receiver Josh Reese to take Bortles' screen pass 25 yards for the TD that gave the visitors a 28-10 lead.
We just need to make plays, Lucas said. As everybody knows, we need to tackle better, and when we have a guy wrapped up, we need to bring him down. That's really it. We just need to execute.
As was the case Tuesday with head coach Bill O'Brien and middle linebacker Glenn Carson, Lucas did not agree that the Lions' practice regimen of not tackling guys to the ground -- the so-called thud approach -- was a factor in their shoddy tackling Saturday.
Not at all, he said. We do a lot of technique tackling. 'Thud' has nothing to do with our ability to tackle, because we have a lot of physical guys and a lot of guys that love to tackle. That doesn't really affect that at all.
Fellow cornerback Trevor Williams -- a converted wide receiver who is, like Lucas, a first-year starter in the secondary -- struggled to such a degree that safety Adrian Amos slid over to corner in his place during Saturday's game. Lucas did not have a great day, either, but he said Wednesday his performance wasn't as bad as the media made it sound. At the same time he emphasized that he was unbothered by such portrayals.
I wasn't frustrated at all, because I know what it is, he said. My teammates know. The media, they do what they're supposed to do. I'm not mad at that or anything. I can't worry about that. I'm a football player.
Lucas said it took not even 24 hours for everyone to put the defeat behind them. Maybe 16 hours, he said.
And once everybody got to practice, Willis, a senior, got in the ear of the younger defensive backs, told them they had to buckle down and be on point heading into this week's home game against Kent State -- advice that was well-received.
He's like an older brother to a lot of us, Lucas said, and just like any real brotherhood, you're going to listen to what your older brother says.
So all of them are now looking ahead.
The great thing about that is that every Saturday we have an opportunity to go out and redeem ourselves, Lucas said. We get another chance to get another 'W' on Saturday. That's how we look at it.
Every week, he added, we have something to prove. This week we have much more to prove since everybody's doubting us. We embrace that as a defense.