When Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti didn’t get up after a collision during the team’s blowout win against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, fans knew what could have been happening.
When it was revealed that the injury was to Mauti’s knee, fans knew what was happening.
Mauti had already missed his entire sophomore season battling a knee injury, and another one is not what the Nittany Lions needed. Unfortunately, head coach Joe Paterno has stated that the phenomenal linebacker’s season is, in fact, done.
Mauti was the leader of the defense and recognized as one of the best linebackers in the nation.
The question is, what happens now?
The Lions had enough questions to answer before the injury, specifically on offense. The quarterback situation is still unsolved, the offensive line isn’t really helping anyone at this point and the special teams are still having trouble doing much of anything.
The defense has been keeping the team in games this season. Take away Mauti and standout cornerback D’Anton Lynn, who was taken off the field on a backboard Saturday, and that may be hard to keep up with Big Ten play starting this weekend at Indiana.
Fortunately, the Lions have a deep roster at linebacker, and players such as fifth-year senior Nate Stupar, redshirt freshman Mike Hull and true sophomore Khairi Fortt will be eager to fill the large gap left by the Mauti injury.
Saturday will be the team’s first chance to respond against a lowly Indiana Hoosiers squad, who was suffered losses to Ball State, Virginia and North Texas while beating only South Carolina State.
In two weeks the Lions will face the Iowa Hawkeyes at home, before hosting the Purdue Boilermakers. These next few weeks will be a great opportunity for Penn State to assess and respond before facing the best of the Big 10 toward the end of the season.