Mauti injury hits Penn State hard at season's end


Mauti injury hits Penn State hard at season's end

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Surrounded by microphones and recorders, Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof stared into the distance as if in a daze. Tears welled up in Roof's eyes when the subject turned to injured senior Michael Mauti.

The fiery Mauti is so much more than a linebacker to the Nittany Lions (7-4, 5-2).

``He means so much to me, personally,'' Roof said in a soft voice. ``From Day 1 ... our relationship has gotten nothing but stronger, stronger and stronger. I totally trust him.''

Coach Bill O'Brien didn't have more details on the injury after Mauti was carted off the field late in the first quarter of Saturday's 45-22 win over Indiana. Mauti was being blocked by an offensive lineman when it appeared that Hoosiers running back D'Angelo Roberts went low and hit Mauti's left knee.

Beaver Stadium grew silent. O'Brien, Roof and another standout outside linebacker, Gerald Hodges, were among the Nittany Lions to come to Mauti's side. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Mauti was slowly and carefully loaded on to a cart that quickly came on to the field to pick up the fallen leader.

``Michael Mauti! Michael Mauti!'' the student section yelled in unison after Mauti returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter walking with crutches while the team gathered to sing the alma mater.

Serious injuries cut off two seasons earlier in his career - one to each knee. O' Brien got testy at one point after being asked if Mauti has played his last down in a blue-and-white uniform.

A team spokesman said Sunday there was no new information on Mauti. An injury report is usually released by Tuesday.

There's just one game left this year for Mauti , running back Michael Zordich and the other seniors who helped keep most of the team together after the NCAA's landmark sanctions in the offseason. Wisconsin visits next weekend.

``All I can say is, in your career, I've been fortunate to be around some special players,'' O'Brien said. ``There's a bunch of special players in that (senior) class. He embodies, in my opinion, what Penn State's all about: he's tough, grind it out, smart.''

By the tears flowing down the eyes of Mauti's mother during the singing of the alma mater, to the heartfelt messages of support from teammates on Twitter - it's clear those close to Mauti fear he may not return for what's already expected to be an emotional season finale against the Badgers.

``I'm praying for my boy Mike Mauti, and y'all do the same,'' redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes posted on Twitter after the game. ``One of the best players (I have) ever seen play the game.''

Hodges, who finished with 12 tackles and an interception, combines with Mauti to form one of the best outside linebacker tandems in the country. Hodges' No. 6 jersey and Mauti's No. 42 jersey are popular sellers at downtown State College stores.

``If I could give my knee to my brother(hash)42 he (would have) had it by the end of the game,'' Hodges wrote on Twitter.

In some respects, the bittersweet victory over the Hoosiers was representative of the challenging year.

The win clinched a winning record for Penn State, an accomplishment that few college football observers thought could happen in the wake of sanctions.

Quarterback Matt McGloin and receiver Allen Robinson combined to torch overwhelmed, poor-tackling Indiana defense in a record-setting day. Robinson had 10 catches for 197 yards and three entertaining scores that showcased his uncanny knack to make mid-air adjustments and twist away from tacklers for big plays.

The emergence this season of Robinson and two other sophomores in bruising 6-foot-1 tailback Zach Zwinak (five 100-yard games in last seven contests) and linebacker Mike Hull are two bright spots for a future that's still cloudy overall given the sanctions. Among the NCAA penalties are a four-year bowl ban and steep scholarship cuts, and players will once again be eligible to leave the program without penalty after this season ends. The exception expires at the start of the 2013 preseason next August.

Hull, who has shown promising glimpses all season as a top reserve, took over on the weak side after Mauti went down and finished with 11 tackles and a sack. He gave some thought to leaving this past offseason after the sanctions were announced. Mauti helped convince him to stay.

``His impact was huge,'' Hull said. ``He talked to me every day and was constantly telling me how important I was to the team and what my role would be.''

Now it could be Hull that takes over early as the starter earlier than expected, in the finale against Wisconsin if the worst feared about Mauti's injury comes true.


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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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