UNIVERSITY PARK (AP) - Penn State lost a star linebacker but gained a new assistant coach.
Michael Mauti isn't sitting still after his season-ending left knee injury. The junior has gone from stall to stall in the locker room and introduced himself as "Coach Mauti."
Three days after losing Mauti and top cornerback D'Anton Lynn to injuries, the Nittany Lions (3-1) are filling the holes in the lineup and trying to bounce back from an emotional period as they get ready to open Big Ten play Saturday at Indiana.
"A lot of people can be down and cold-hearted ... (Mauti) hasn't been that way at all," linebacker Nate Stupar said Tuesday. Mauti has been uplifting, energetic and "very passionate about the 'Coach Mauti thing.'
"It's good to see that, really good to see that."
Coach Joe Paterno's crew is also heartened by good news on Lynn, who laid face down at midfield for several minutes in the third quarter of Saturday's 34-6 win over Eastern Michigan. By then, Mauti had already limped off the field in the first quarter.
In a scary scene that silenced the crowd and had teammates kneeling in prayer, Lynn was placed on a backboard and carted off the field. He was released from the hospital a couple hours later after doctors looked at his head, neck and spinal column.
Defensive end Jack Crawford said Tuesday that Lynn initially couldn't move his arms. Lynn was tested for a concussion Monday, and trainers will continue to monitor him the rest of the week.
If all goes well, Lynn could be cleared to return to practice Thursday. He's officially listed as "doubtful" on the injury report, though it appears Lynn won't play this weekend in Bloomington.
It's also uncertain exactly how long Lynn will be out, but that was the least of Paterno's concerns this week.
"Lynn is, thank goodness ... his prognosis is not as severe as we were scared to death of," Paterno said Tuesday at Beaver Stadium. "The underlying fact is that Lynn is not anywhere near as severe as" feared.
With depth at linebacker and in the secondary, and other seniors to fill the leadership gap, Penn State can seemingly withstand the losses of Mauti and Lynn. Stupar, a senior, will step in for Mauti.
Paterno has several options in the secondary to replace Lynn in the rotation, including Adrian Amos, a freshman off to a promising start. Sophomore safeties Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, who each gained experience during the injury-plagued 2010 season, could also see increased time.
Either way, Paterno thinks this year's team is in better shape heading into the Big Ten than the last.
"What's that going to determine as far as wins and losses, I don't know," Paterno said. "But this team has been a little bit easier to coach. They've been a little bit more committed ... And I think overall they have a chance to be a good football team."
On offense, Paterno again showed no signs of veering from his two-quarterback tandem of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin. Bolden has started the season's first four games before giving way to McGloin in various rotations.
McGloin helped revive the struggling passing game Saturday against Eastern Michigan. He was 14 of 17 for 220 yards and three touchdowns, a performance that allowed him to share Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors with Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the conference.
With so many things to worry about, it's little surprise that Paterno didn't know Saturday's Indiana game would be his 700th as a member of the Penn State coaching staff. The 84-year-old Paterno was an assistant for 16 years before taking over in 1966, winning a major college football record 404 games as head coach in the process.
"I've coached 700 games," Paterno asked rhetorically before joking, "Well, I've done my penance. I've had 700 press conferences. I've done my penance. I'm on my way."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.