November 17, 2012 at 7:35 PM
To paraphrase a postgame Gerald Hodges tweet, he said if he could have given his knee to linebacker Michael Mauti, he would have.
Mauti went down in the first quarter with a left knee injury and did not return to the game. Hodges led the linebacking corps in his absence with 12 tackles and an interception.
“Well I think this team is a bunch of resilient guys,” O’Brien said about the defense rebounding after Mauti’s injury. “Again, when a guy like that who’s a leader on your football team goes down in a game, I think that it was a good response and we’ve got a bunch of veterans on defense with Hodges and Glenn Carson and Jordan Hill and Stephon Morris, a bunch of guys that have played a lot of football.”
Hodges’ pick in the second quarter was his second of the season. He initially batted down the ball, but as it hung in the air for an extra, he successfully dove to keep it off the ground.
“That was a huge play in the football game,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “What that did from a momentum standpoint, that was a huge deal. Good players make plays when you need them the most, and that was a huge play for him and huge play for us.”
Hodges chimed on his interception: “I made a great play. It was a great play.”
The senior linebacker said O’Brien didn’t want the players assessing the extent of Mauti’s injury after the game. Hodges said he spoke to Mauti when he got hurt, and he told him he “loved him like a brother.”
“Of course his spirits are down right now because he had to leave the game,” Hodges said. “But we’re going to continue to rally around him. He’s a team leader."
Hodges added that he tried to invigorate his own presence on the field — both as a leader and as a defender — to make up for Mauti.
“We just took [Mauti’s injury] as motivation,” he said. “We lost a leader. When you lose leader, you got other guys that need to step up, including myself. We all need to step up in our own ways.”