Pat Fitzgerald appreciates Penn State LB Mike Mauti
Pat Fitzgerald's eyes drift to the guards and linebackers when he watches football just for fun. He can't help himself. The former two-time Chuck Bednarik Award winner remains a linebacker at heart, which is what allows him to appreciate what Penn State's Michael Mauti has been doing.
The senior was named national defensive player of the week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks after intercepting two passes to go along with six tackles and half a sack in a rout over Illinois. He set a new school record when he returned one of the interceptions 99 yards.
The Wildcats take their new No. 24 ranking and their 5-0 record to State College to meet a Nittany Lions team Saturday that has won three in a row in large part because of their ability to force turnovers. Penn State has forced 11 turnovers in the past four games.
"Michael is terrific with his key reads," Fitzgerald said. "He's got great eyes. He's very instinctual. He finds the football. He's physical at the point of attack. He's overcome two major injuries and to me that's the hallmark of what makes him special. I don't get to coach him but as an outsider looking in, the way he has responded from adversity is really, really special."
Mauti tore the ACL in his right knee as a sophomore and tore the ACL on his left knee after starting the first four games of last season. He leads Penn State with 48 tackles.
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