Honestly I think we need a SLB that can play M LB in certain packages more then a true MLB. That way we don't have to drop Miller back in coverage as much. Dayrl Smith is my choice for that as a FA, and reading more about Hodges I think he could be one of the better choices for that in the draft.
It was his defining game in a breakout season.
Gerald Hodges, Penn State's returning first-team All-Big Ten outside linebacker, was never better in 2011 than he was on a chilly, snowy late October Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
Hodges was the dominant player in a game dominated by defense, as Penn State rallied to edge Illinois 10-7 to give the late Joe Paterno his then-landmark 409th victory.
Hodges' day? Nineteen tackles and a sack. He would finish with a team-high 106 stops playing weak-side linebacker for the Lions.
"It was exciting, it was an exciting game,'' Hodges said Wednesday, a few days before 2-2 PSU faces 2-2 Illnois Saturday in Champaign, Ill.
"We're just hopefully going to come out on top [Saturday], start the Big Ten [season], you know, with a win. Last year was definitely a great victory for. New year, we got new coaches on both sides … I'm just excited to get out there and just play.''
A lot has happened since the last PSU-Illinois contest. The Lions continue to "move forward" in the words of first-year head coach Bill O'Brien.
And Hodges, a 6-2, 237-pound senior, has moved over.
He is now playing the strong side and is second on the team -- behind new weak-side linebacker Michael Mauti -- in tackles with 30. He has a tackle for loss, two passes defensed, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti leads the team in tackles with 42. Gerald Hodges is second with 30.
JOE HERMITT, The Patriot-News
Hodges said the position switch has been a significant adjustment for him.
"I wouldn't say they're running away from me,'' Hodges said. "Last year, I was on the weak side.''
"They [PSU's defensive coaches] trust me on the strong side,'' Hodges continued.
"They put me in a new position and trust that I can do it. I think the most difficult part, you know, is lining up outside the box [near scrimmage] and still trying to get inside the box for certain rushers.''
New defensive coordinator Ted Roof is different in approach than the former one, Tom Bradley. Hodges seems to like Roof's aggressive style. He is a frequent blitzer.
"Last year's defense was kind of sit back and play your responsibilities,'' Hodges said.
"This year they give you the chance to run around a little bit, make your own plays, as long as you take care of your assignment.''
And yes, Hodges also admitted that he and Mauti, another senior, try to "one-up" each other during games. Mauti has 42 tackles, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
"I wouldn't say we're competing out there,'' Hodges said, referring to Mauti.
"It's just a natural competition for both of us. When you see him making a good play, that drives me to make a good play.''