Competition spurs Penn State's Mauti, Hodges
College Football Videos
The competition that has pushed Penn State outside linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges to new heights could have a significant impact on Saturday's game at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State's ability to contain elusive Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller will go a long way toward the Nittany Lions beating the unbeaten Buckeyes. The more Mauti and Hodges hit Miller, the better the Nittany Lions' chances of delivering the first signature win of the Bill O'Brien era.
Mauti and Hodges will lead a unit that has to find the proper balance between playing aggressively and staying disciplined against Miller. Mauti has done just that in helping Penn State dominate opponents since Week 2 and establishing himself as a candidate for first-team All-America honors.
“He's got the right blend of enthusiasm, intensity, a lot of energy, but he doesn't go overboard where he loses his focus,” Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden said. “I think that would always be a concern that if somebody is revved up that they're just kind of running around crazy, and Mike doesn't do that. He's played a lot of football, and that's his personality to be amped up, and I'm glad it is because every team needs two or three guys like that. I think on, the field, he and Gerald Hodges both provide that kind of energy.”
The two are road roommates and the soul of a defense that has allowed only five touchdowns in three Big Ten games.
Hodges started his career as a safety, and Penn State played the Paulsboro, N.J., native as a freshman because the coaches didn't think he would stay for five years. Mauti also played as a true freshman, but his career was sidetracked twice by major knee injuries.
They took different routes to stardom, but there is no doubt they have arrived.
Mauti and Hodges are first and second on the team in tackles with 65 and 54. Mauti is among the Big Ten leaders with three interceptions, and Hodges has been credited with four passes broken up.
“I see two guys that really enjoy the game and enjoy each other and complement each other, and so I think Gerald and Mike feed off each other's enthusiasm,” Vanderlinden said.
“When one makes a big play, the other one's really fired up for him.”
There is, however, an element of competition between the future NFL draft picks, and Penn State's defense has benefitted from it.
“We're constantly motivating each other,” Mauti said. “We've competed against each other for four or five years now, so it's a really fun relationship. We just want to make plays; that's what it really comes down to.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion
- GM Colbert expects Roethlisberger to end career with Steelers
- Steelers WR Wheaton wants to produce after injury-plagued rookie year
- Roethlisberger ‘prays’ he can stay with Steelers when deal expires
- Rostraver youth pastor accused of sex assault
- Steelers hope group of low-budget cornerbacks can deliver
- CMU graduates its first class in Rwanda
- Rostraver youth pastor accused of sexual contact with teen girl
- Route 28 motorists to face new traffic configuration starting Wednesday
- Observers mixed on grid backup amid carbon rules, natural gas uncertainty