By William Bowman
The Daily Item
UNIVERSITY PARK —
The two faces of Penn State’s rebirth in 2012 have been head coach Bill O’Brien and senior linebacker Michael Mauti, who has faced as much adversity as any player on the roster during his time in Happy Valley.
Now Mauti, the unquestioned leader on the field for the Nittany Lions, is facing more. The senior from Louisiana whose father and brother both played for Penn State, injured his knee on Indiana’s second possession Saturday on what looked like, on replay, an illegal chop block that was not called. Mauti, who has torn the ACL in both knees during his career at Penn State, was carted off the field and did not return.
O’Brien said he did not have the official diagnosis immediately after the game, but Mauti returned to the sideline in the second half on crutches and the injury did not look good.
“In my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some special players. I’ve coached great players, a Hall of Fame quarterback and Mike Mauti is one of the most special guys I’ve ever been around,” said O’Brien. “He embodies what Penn State is all about.”
O’Brien gathered the entire team together when Mauti was put on the cart. The coach did not say what he told the players — “It’s between the team and I,” he said — but when the cart started for the tunnel, senior fullback Michael Zordich ran over for a big handshake.
The coach said he was impressed with the way his team handled Mauti’s injury, one that could shake a team when its leader goes down.
“When a guy like that goes down, it can really hurt, but we got a good response,” said O’Brien. “We have some veterans on defense and they knew what they had to do.”
ON THE FIELD: Selinsgrove graduate Ryan Keiser has played in every game for the Nittany Lions on special teams over the past two seasons, but Saturday the former all-state player got his first significant game action at safety for Penn State.
With started Malcolm Willis nursing a knee injury and not in the lineup, Keiser was the backup at both the free and strong safety spots. He came into the game in the second quarter when Stephen Obeng-Agyapong got banged up. Keiser played the entire series and then played the entire fourth quarter.
Keiser, who entered the game with two tackles this year, had a career-high three stops. One came on a kick return in the third, and the other two came on Indiana’s final drive. His final top was a big hit that drew ‘oohs’ from the crowd when he crushed the Hoosiers’ Kofi Hughes on the sideline.
RECORD BREAKER: Matt McGloin continued his assault on the Penn State record books on Saturday and now is in the midst of the most prolific passing season in program history. The former walk-on out of West Scranton hit 22-of-32 passes for 394 yards and four TDs in the rout.
The 394 yards was the second-best total in program history, coming just short of Zach Mill’s 399 yards against Iowa in 2002. That gave him 3,070 yards for the season, the second time in program history at Nittany Lions’ quarterback surpassed the 3,000-yard mark, breaking Daryll Clark’s record of 3,003. Other single season marks McGloin broke on Saturday were completions (251) and attempts (409).
His four TD passes gave him 23 for the season, one shy of Clark’s record of 24 set in 2009. They also gave him 45 for his career, moving him into first place in PSU’s all-time record book, moving past Clark’s total of 43.
McGloin became just the second QB in Penn State history to throw for more than 6,000 career yards. He now has 6,189 yards, trailing only Zack Mills’ total of 7,212.
“We found out right away Matt was a competitive kid,” said O’Brien. “You could see that football was important to him and you have to have those traits to be a successful quarterback. You need a brain that works fast, be competitive and have a huge desire to win and Matt has all those.”
MORE RECORDS: On his first reception of the day, Penn State receiver Allen Robinson broke the Penn State single-season record for catches, surpassing two of the all-time greats in PSU history, O.J. McDuffie and Bobby Engram.
While the catch actually lost yardage, Robinson more than made up for it on his next nine catches.
Robinson, a true sophomore, hauled in 10 passes for a career-high 197 yards and three scores. It was his second 10-catch game of the season and he enters next week’s final against Wisconsin with 73 catches for 983 yards and 11 TD catches.
Robinson needs just 17 yards next week to become the third PSU receiver with 1,000-yard receiving in a season and he needs 102 to break Engram’s single-season mark of 1,084. His 11 TD catches is two shy of Engram’s mark of 13, set in 1993, and he already ranks in the top 10 in program history in career TD grabs.