Mauti Out For Season With Knee Injury
As Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti limped off the field on Saturday, fans in Beaver Stadium became silent with worry.
Mauti was able to walk off the field under his own power, but it was clear that something was not right. It was revealed on Sunday that Mauti, a redshirt junior, had torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee Saturday against Eastern Michigan, an injury that will keep him off the field for the rest of the season.
Mauti is no stranger to season ending injuries. In 2009, Mauti tore the ACL in his right knee during preseason training camp, forcing him to miss the entire season. Mauti also missed two games during the 2010 season with a sprained ankle.
With Mauti out for the season, the Penn State defense has taken a big hit. Mauti is the Nittany Lions’ leading tackler and an All-Big Ten candidate.
Mauti’s defensive statistics have consistently improved in his time at Penn State. In 2008, when Mauti was a true freshman, he made 26 tackles and spent time playing on both defense and special teams.
In 2010, Mauti played in 11 games, starting seven of those at linebacker. He made 67 tackles and two sacks.
In the first four games of the current season, Mauti has a combined 21 tackles, 10 of which were solo tackles. He also has one interception and has broken up three passes.
While Mauti is a big loss for the Penn State defense, his replacement is no rookie. Nate Stupar, a fifth year senior, will reclaim his starting linebacker spot with Mauti’s absence.
Stupar played in every game during the 2010 season, starting seven games at outside linebacker. He ranked third on the team last year in tackles with 73. Stupar also made two sacks, one interception, four pass breakups and one forced fumble.
When Mauti was moved to outside linebacker in the spring, Stupar lost his starting spot. Because of Mauti’s move, Stupar has seen most of his action on special teams this season, and he has been one of the most explosive forces on the special teams squad.
When Mauti left the game with his injury on Saturday, Stupar took his place. At the end of the game against Eastern Michigan, Stupar led the Nittany Lions with seven tackles, three of which were for losses in yardage. Stupar also had one sack.
Stupar, the only senior linebacker, is happy that he has been able to reclaim his starting spot, even though it occurred in such an unfortunate way.
While Mauti is a big loss for the Penn State football team, it seems that Stupar will be more than capable of filling in. Stupar has been successful during his time at Penn State and he has racked up a lot of playing experience.
Besides his great deal of playing experience, Stupar is an explosive defensive force. His ability to tackle rivals Mauti’s and he has also shown that he is able to pressure the opposing quarterback, not only forcing him to make mistakes, but leading to sacks for Stupar.
Stupar is experienced when it comes to defense, and he knows what he needs to do to make a big play. Stupar will be the best possible replacement for Mauti; he should be able to keep up the success Mauti has helped the Nittany Lion defense earn so far this season.
Penn State will travel to Bloomington on Saturday to play against the Indiana Hoosiers, with Stupar at starting linebacker.
Breanna Jacobs is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.