April 8, 2010

Thursday Question: Spring Position Battles, pt. 2

Michael Mauti (42) is near 100 percent recovered from his ACL tear last summer, but the coaches have kept him clean so far this spring.

The LBU staff tackles part two of our Thursday Question: What's the most intriguing offensive position battle this spring? Today, we look at the defensive battles.


I took the high road on offense but I have no shame on defense, this is Linebacker U and I’m looking forward to the battle at the namesake position Michael Mauti was supposed to start last season before tearing his ACL so he will definitely be one of the starting three. Chris Colasanti and Bani Gbadyu are both seniors that have plenty of game experience so they will probably be the default starters going into spring. But with Mauti sitting out spring ball for precautionary reasons, you can bet the coaches will get a good look at all the linebackers on the roster.

Michael Zordich, Michael Yancich and Nathan Stupar will see plenty of playing time but what this position lacks in experience it more than makes up for in talent. Former safety Gerald Hodges and freshmen linebackers Glenn Carson and Khairi Fortt will be given ample opportunity to show what they’ve got. I wouldn’t be surprised to see eight or nine different linebackers get serious playing time in the blue/white game. This position is wide open this year.


The politically correct response would be to say I'm interested in the linebackers. I am, sort of. But I'm not "OMG" interested in them. There are about nine linebackers on the roster that would start for any BCS program. The coaches will find who fits best, so I'm not worried. The position that intrigues me the most is the secondary. Sure, there is talent back there--supposedly--but do we know what that unit can really do, should it face a dynamite passing attack this season? Seriously, don't you dare say Penn State faced a single good passing team in 2009, because the Nittany Lions did no such thing.

Let's see, Chaz Powell moved to the starting corner spot, and... wait, WHAT? Yeah, Penn State has been forced to move a wide receiver, who hasn't been on defense since 2007, to be the starting corner. I get it that Drew Astorino is out, necessitating the move of D'Anton Lynn from corner to safety. But is Powell really the second-best option to Lynn? I've heard great things about the young guys like Derrick Thomas and Steven Obeng-Agyapong (without looking up the spelling, thank you very much!), but not much outside of their "potential" to be good.

With so many great linebackers fighting for starting jobs, guys like Mike Yancich (33) will most likely battle for the second team spots, which can be just as important to a defense like Penn State's.


On defense, I'm less intrigued by a position battle than I am in how they utilize Gerald Hodges. In my eyes, he was the most impressive player on the field in last year's Blue-White Game and was disappointed in the lack of use he got during the season. The roster has his listed as a LB, but he's been in the secondary so we'll see what plans they have for him. The revelation Chaz Powell has been seeing reps with the D unit has me interested as well.


I am looking forward to the steel cage match better known as the linebacker position battle. If you think that starting group of Gbadyu-Colasanti-Stupar is set in stone, you're kidding yourself. Michael Mauti is still recovering a knee injury but should be healthy enough by August, not to mention LB/Safety hybrid Gerald Hodges and froshes Khairi Fortt (who is already enrolled and will be playing in the Blue-White game) and Mike Hull will be fighting for some decent playing time, even if it's highly unlikely to be a starting spot. I'm also curious to see if one of the other Mikes in the linebacking corps (Yancich and Zordich) can crack the two-deep at any of the positions. If forced at gunpoint to name the starting linebackers by the Youngstown State game I'd go with Gbadyu, Mauti, and Stupar, but this is highly subject to change depending on what occurs over the next several months.

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