Don Brown looked down, then back up. His lips pursed as his mask sat below his chin. Penn State quarterback Will Levis was in the end zone celebrating. Brown was left to watch and wonder. About what was next after the final Nittany Lions touchdown to seal a 27-17 Michigan loss. About how to fix a defense that again showed porous holes. And surely, about his job security.

The Levis touchdown run made up two of the 254 Penn State rushing yards on the day — all without Journey Brown or Noah Cain, its two top running backs coming into the season. Keyvone Lee finished with 134 yards, quarterback Sean Clifford with 73 — including a 28-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw. To add to the humiliation, it’s the Nittany Lions’ first win of the year. To further add to the humiliation, it’s not even the worst performance of the year for the Wolverines’ run defense.

That honor still goes to Wisconsin’s 341 yards on the ground two weeks ago. Much of Penn State’s came because of the same problems — setting an edge and missing tackles.

After the loss to the Badgers, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh talked of evaluating all facets of the program and changing what needed to be changed. He said Saturday they put in two new schemes to help set the edge better. 

“A lot of the plays today weren’t initial edge plays,” Harbaugh said. “They started inside and the back was able to find the crease on the edge. And we either folded in or we didn’t make the tackle on the edge or a combination of things.”

From the first drive of the game — a 75-yard march down the field that featured 39 rushing yards — to the last, on which a Lee cut to the outside got him 23 yards and sealed the game, Penn State seemed to get whatever it wanted on the ground.

Either Michigan couldn’t get to the ball carrier or Michigan couldn’t tackle the ball carrier. It was the latest in a line of disappointing defensive performances, and will add fuel to the fire for those calling for Brown’s head.

Amid a flurry of cliche and saying he needed to watch the film, junior defensive end Taylor Upshaw offered this when asked if there were any adjustments made during the game.

“We just gotta be there,” he said. “So I don’t know to that answer. I think that’s a coach Brown answer.”

The tackling, at least, should be simple, Upshaw said. It’s something they’ve been doing their whole lives as football players. “It’s just something you’ve gotta do,” he said.

But they didn’t. And Harbaugh, a coach renowned for his attention to detail and intensity, who kept his team on the field for practice when the Big Ten cancelled football and Michigan released a statement halting all athletic activities in March, was left lamenting a lack of fundamentals.

“I feel like sometimes we’re tackling a little too high and leaving our feet a little too early,” he said. “Timing of the tackle, wrapping and getting our man on the ground.”

To open his press conference following Michigan’s drop to 2-4, Harbaugh was asked if his approach had changed since 2016, when the program seemed on the cusp of being a national contender. The hiring of Brown — a process that started when D.J. Durkin left to become head coach at Maryland, Harbaugh looked up who ran the No. 1 defense in the country the prior year, saw Brown’s name and got moving — is a quintessential example.

But on Saturday, a Penn State offense in the throes of its worst season in nearly two decades ran the ball down the throat of Brown’s defense for 60 minutes, and the distance from 2016 and national relevance and yearly appearances among the top five defenses looked further than Brown’s stare.