- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Despite the loss, Penn State's awards stock rebounded this week after a strong defensive effort against the Cavaliers. Committees will almost certainly take note.
Every week, NittanyNation will check in and update how some of its best players are faring on those awards lists. Penn State has four players vying for eight awards this season, and three of those four players are on defense.
Nearly every player improved from the season opener, and one linebacker really shot up the charts. Here's the list:
LB Michael Mauti (Butkus): If the senior plays like this every week, he'd be a shoo-in to become a Butkus Award finalist. He's led the Nittany Lions in tackles both weeks, had his hand in two turnovers and has provided a much-needed spark for not just the defense, but the entire team. Whether it's intangibles or stats, Mauti has shown he has a lot of what awards committees look for. Right now, he's the player most likely to earn an award by the end of the season.
DT Jordan Hill (Lombardi, Outland): Hill had a relatively quiet opening week but bounced back against Virginia. He clogged the middle of the field and came away with a play destined for his NFL draft highlight tape. On a short Virginia pass, he stuck his arms up for a deflection and came down with a one-handed interception. He hasn't made a tackle in the backfield this season, though, and doesn't seem on pace to meet last year's numbers. It's hard to win awards when you appear to have a bigger impact on the previous season, when you didn't win a Lombardi or Outland.
LB Gerald Hodges (Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi, Nagurski): Hodges played well but, for the second straight game, he was outshined by another linebacker (Mauti). Hodges is still arguably the best linebacker in the Big Ten, but his stock was so high in the preseason that it's dropped a bit for not being closer to perfect. He has 19 tackles -- but only five solo stops -- this season.
C Matt Stankiewitch (Rimington): This bears repeating: Players don't win the Rimington when they're part of sub-par rushing teams. Stankiewitch has been the anchor on this Penn State line -- and he's one of the better interior linemen in the conference -- but his stock is still slipping because of this unit's struggles. Penn State's rushing offense is ranked No. 100, below the likes of Wyoming, Western Michigan and San Jose State.
17dMitch Sherman and Brian Bennett