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Penn State Football: Glenn Carson Fighting to Remain Man in the Middle

by on July 19, 2012 6:00 AM

Junior middle linebacker Glenn Carson has found himself in a position battle heading into fall camp with junior Khairi Fortt.

It’s the only linebacking position open, as Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti already hold down two starting spots.

So, what’s it gonna be? Fight or flight?

“I came to this school, linebacker university, for a reason,” Carson said. “Because there’s a lot of good linebackers and I’ll always be in a competition with someone. It’s something I came to this school expecting, and in the end it’s gonna make the both of us a better player, so we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Fortt, who missed most of the spring and underwent surgery in late April because of a subluxation of his right kneecap, was limited in his participation at Friday’s Lift for Life charity event. He should be full-go when camp opens Aug. 6.

Carson made 12 of 13 starts a year ago, finishing fourth on the team with 74 total tackles, forcing two fumbles and recovering one. He set a career high with 11 tackles against the would-be national champs, Alabama, and then tied that number in a victory at Ohio State in November.

His offseason focus under first-year strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald has been speed, with the hope it helps improve his pass defense.

As the man in the middle, Carson is responsible for calling the defensive keys and making pre-snap adjustments as necessary, another change he’s had to tackle with a new coaching regime featuring defensive coordinator Ted Roof.

“We’ve basically had to erase everything that we’ve known for the past 2-3 years and completely learn something completely new,” said Carson, who said his weight is still around the 240 pounds he played with last season.

It helps being flanked by Hodges and Mauti, two guys who landed on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, given to the country’s top linebacker.

“The thing that’s most important to me is they’re the type of guys that I can go to war with and I can trust,” Carson said. “And when we’re in tough, hot situations, I know they’re guys that won’t crumble.”

Penn State’s defense was in a lot of those situations last seasons, hampered by its own offense. To wit:

• Penn State ranked 95th nationally in total offense

• Out of 120 FBS teams, only 11 scored fewer than Penn State’s 29 touchdowns

• Penn State ranked 112th in passing efficiency

• The Nittany Lions converted less than 37 percent of their third downs, 96th in the country.

“I think our defense enjoyed it,” Carson said. “We accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion. When bad things happened, we kind of came out there with a smile on our face like, here comes another challenge for us, and this can be fun. Let’s just go show everybody how good of a defense we are.”

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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