PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions travel to Iowa on Saturday for a primetime
matchup against the Hawkeyes (8 p.m. on BTN).
GoPSUsports.com sat down with linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden to talk about his unit and the Hawkeyes. Take a look.
GoPSUsports.com: Let's start with Michael
Mauti. How would you evaluate his superb season thus far?
Vanderlinden: "Mike Mauti brings tremendous energy to the defense. He plays with a lot of fire and spirit. He's equally good at playing the run and defending the pass. He's got great awareness, as well."
GoPSUsports.com: Moving to the middle, talk about the way Glenn Carson has played this season and the type of player he is for the defense.
Vanderlinden: "Glenn Carson loves to play the game. He is extremely competitive. He's as tough as it gets. He is known for his square, hit-you-in-the-face, knock-you-back tackles. And he too, makes all the checks for our defense. He gets us lined up properly. And really, from tackle to tackle, there can't be a better linebacker in the Big Ten."
GoPSUsports.com: Gerald Hodges is an athletic playmaker on the outside. What do you like about the way Gerald plays?
Vanderlinden: "Gerald combines size and strength with tremendous athleticism. He has the ability to play out in space to defend run and the pass game equally well."
GoPSUsports.com: Mike Hull is a guy who is a standout on special teams, and he plays a huge role on the defense. What makes him a unique player?
Vanderlinden: "Mike has great speed. He is very athletic. He is the first player in the game at all three linebacker positions. It really speaks well to his ability to learn and comprehend multiple positions. On third down, you see Mike in the game a lot because he is quick and athletic, and he has a good feel in the passing game."
GoPSUsports.com: How challenging is it to learn all three linebacker positions?
Vanderlinden: "It's very challenging. There are very few people who could learn all of the assignments, adjustments, alignments and coverage responsibilities at all three positions."
GoPSUsports.com: When you talk to any one of the linebackers, the first thing they talk about is the play of the defensive line. How important is an effective group up front for the linebackers to be successful?
Vanderlinden: "One of the real benefits to playing linebacker at Penn State is year-after-year, our linebackers have had the benefit of playing behind really good front four defensive lines. Our D-Line does a great job of pushing the line of scrimmage, allowing the linebackers to work downhill towards the ball. Our D-Line also does a terrific job of commanding two blocks, and often times, freeing up linebackers to run and get to the football."
GoPSUsports.com: When you look at Iowa's offense on film, what stands out to you?
Vanderlinden: "Typical to all Iowa teams that we have played during my years at Penn State, they are physical. They are a run-first team that can also throw the ball effectively off of play-action. Then, on third down, they will spread you out and they'll run a spread set or they'll go to an empty backfield and throw the ball well. So, you have to defend both the run and the pass, but it certainly starts with defending the run and stopping the run game."
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