Despite Disappointment, Mike Hull Won’t Dwell on Saturday’s Loss
Mike Hull didn’t linger on the field long after singing the alma mater following Saturday’s 34-10 loss to Michigan State.
It was his final postgame at Beaver Stadium as a player, but Hull, unlike seniors last year who rejoiced following their final game after upsetting Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium, wasn’t feeling particularly sentimental.
“We got our butts kicked,” said Hull. “I kinda wanted to get out of there and get away [from] it.”
For the eighth time this season, Hull finished with more than 10 tackles. The senior leader of the nation’s best statistical defense recorded a team-high 13 tackles, his third highest total of the year.
Linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda were both injured, forcing Hull to variably line up at all three linebacker spots. Missing several of its normal playmakers, Hull’s defense didn’t have the spark to halt Michigan State’s seventh-ranked scoring offense. The Spartans’ Jeremy Langford rushed for more than 100 yards for the ninth consecutive game. It was the second time in as many weeks the defense allowed more than 100 yards to a single skill player after Illinois’ Mike Dudek punished the Nittany Lions to the tune of 11 receptions for 115 yards.
Still, subtract the opening kickoff return taken back for a touchdown and Christian Hackenberg’s fumble recovered at Penn State’s 23, and it’s hard to blame the defense for Saturday’s loss.
“We were shuffled around a little today,” said Hull. “You’ve got to do the best with what you can. When that happens, that’s football.”
Like his teammates, Hull refused to dwell on Saturday’s loss. He’ll get one more opportunity to put on a Penn State uniform during its bowl game, and, ever the leader, said the 15 extra practices will help groom the Nittany Lions’ young and talented defense. “You have one more opportunity to go out there and play with your friends,” he said. “You’ve got another month together. It’s definitely a lot better than ending your whole career on a note like that.”
It may be that Hull knows the importance of senior leadership because he credited those who helped him his first year. In 2011, 20 pounds lighter as a freshman, Hull worked with veteran linebackers Michael Mauti, Glenn Carson, and Nate Stupar. Three years later, he’s the one teaching the younger guys.
“I still remember that whole experience, it was very helpful for myself,” Hull said of his beginning at Penn State. “Every single rep was very important, it shows the coaches what you’re capable of.”
Back on Senior Day, Hull said he was most disappointed about letting down the fans. 99,902 of them flocked to Beaver Stadium to see Hull, and the 16 other seniors that rode out sanctions, a coaching change, and national media frenzies, take the field one last time.
“In front of all of these fans, we wanted to give them a show and it just didn’t happen today,” he said.
He’ll have one last chance to make it happen.