Forget another few days of breaking down Virginia’s offense and defense.
Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti said players are ready to face the Cavaliers immediately. The eagerness stems from last week’s 24-14 season-opening loss to Ohio University.
“There really hasn’t been an overreaction,” Mauti said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “If anything, guys have been really angry because we didn’t present a good image of what our team is and how much talent we have. That wasn’t our best side.
“We just want to play. If we could play this game today, I think we would line up and play. That’s kind of how we feel right now.”
The coaches might disagree with trimming preparation time. But the message is clear: Players don’t want the loss to linger.
Still, Mauti understands things must be corrected before arriving in Virginia for Saturday’s noon kickoff. Penn State didn’t force a turnover, struggled to stop Ohio on third down and allowed 499 yards of offense. The final number bothers Mauti.
“That’s definitely something I have taken pretty personally, and I know our defense has as well,” he said. “That’s something we can work on and we have been working on (Tuesday) and Monday and we are going to continue to work on that.”
Another telling number about Penn State’s current state is Saturday’s point spread. The Nittany Lions opened as an 81/ 2-point underdog against Virginia (1-0), an eight-win
team last year that blasted Division I-AA Richmond 43-19 last weekend. The point spread has swelled to 10 points.
“That’s the first time I’m hearing that, so that gives you an idea of how much we pay attention to people that make those kind of predictions,” Mauti said. “We have enough motivation to play every game.”
Michael Zordich, another one of the team’s vocal leaders, put it succintly.
“Underdog pretty much means nothing to us anymore,” he said. “I think we have been that for a while now.”
McGloin: ‘Walk-on is a stupid term’
He’s not a walk-on anymore, but fifth-year senior quarterback Matt McGloin still identifies with Penn State’s non-scholarship players, who received a new name earlier this week.
Coach Bill O’Brien said the program’s non-scholarship players are now referred to as “run-ons.” From McGloin’s perspective, the name change is overdue.
“Walk-on is a stupid term to begin with,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t agree with it. I don’t agree with the meaning behind it. You’re a football player. You do the same exact things as a scholarship player does. Unfortunately, they don’t pay for you to go to school.”
Mike London’s coaching stock elevated last year when he helped Virginia earn its first bowl bid since 2007.
The Cavaliers’ rise propelled him into the zany world of coaching rumors. Penn State was among the schools searching for a new head coach last November and December and ESPN mentioned him as a possible candidate for the position.
London, who went 8-5 last season, said he never thought about pursuing the Penn State job.
“I love the job that I have,” said London, who replaced Al Groh after the 2009 season. “I love this place, I love this community and I love the players here and what this University stands for. There are always people throwing your name out there and then it grows legs, and then all of the sudden it’s a centipede and you have all kinds of people talking about it.
“Flattering, perhaps, being mentioned. But at the same time my focus is here. This is where I want to be.”
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy