Rain and heavy winds were in the forecast for the annual Blue-White game, and a steady rain turned into a downpour by halftime, which prompted coach Joe Paterno to call the game two plays into the third quarter for the safety of the players and fans at the game. The Blue squad ended up defeating the White squad 10-0. Nineteen Nittany Lions sat out the game due to injuries, including wide receiver Derek Moye, who is still recovering from a concussion he suffered in spring practice, and the entire starting secondary.
It is very apparent that the defense is ahead of the offense at this point for the Nittany Lions, as many of the defensive lineman were in the backfield the entire game, and each of the running backs seemed to have a tough time finding any running room. The biggest positive I took out of the game, was the play of the linebackers and defensive line as there were very few missed tackles, a forced fumble and two sacks by redshirt freshman Kyle Baublitz. To say the least, the first team defense looks very good at the conclusion of spring practice.
With the quarterback race still up in the air, junior Matt McGloin was far and away the top performer Saturday, as he completed 5 of 10 passes for 109 yards and a 17 yard scoring strike to sophomore wide receiver Brandon Moseby-Felder, the game’s only touchdown. Sophomore Rob Bolden did not complete a pass as he was 0 for 5 with an interception on the first play of the game. Many of Boldens passes were dropped, which can be attributed to the wet conditions. Junior Kevin Newsome completed 3 of 7 passes for 22 yards and redshirt freshman Paul Jones only attempted one pass attempt as he was 0 for 1. Bolden and McGloin shared time playing with the first team offense on the Blue Squad, while Jones and Newsome took snaps with the second and third team offense for the White Squad. Sophomore Shane McGregor also saw some playing time toward the end of the first half for the White Squad, as he was 2 for 3 for 4 yards.
Coach Joe Paterno talked about the quarterback race and how it seems to now be a two person battle between Bolden and McGloin and how he does not see a reason to name a starting quarterback by the end of spring practice. “There’s no sense to,” Paterno said. “We don’t have to. We didn’t get outside and didn’t get to do a lot of things we wanted to. I’m 99 percent sure it will be one of the two kids (McGloin or Bolden). Now which one starts – we’ll sit down as a staff next week and spend some time looking at the tapes and discussing the different positions.”
As stated earlier, the running backs did not have much running room to work with for most of the game. Sophomore Silas Redd appears to be the starting running back, as he took the majority of the snaps with the first team offense for the Blue squad. Redd had nine carries for 24 yards. Senior Stephfon Green also saw action with the first team offense for the Blue squad, as he gained 13 yards on four carries. In his first action since suffering a knee injury in November of 2009, junior Brandon Beachum ran hard and broke many tackles as he gained 24 yards on six carries for the White squad. Sophomore Curtis Dukes gained 15 yards on 3 carries for the White squad. I look for both Dukes and Beachum to be the short yardage running back this year. I am very excited about the depth and potential of the running backs this year for the Nittany Lions.
Although there were not many long pass plays, junior Devon Smith probably had the catch of the day as he ran a streak pattern, in which he cut the route short and made a sliding 36 yard catch from a McGloin pass. I expect big things this year from Smith as he looks to take over the starting position as the slot wide receiver for the Lions if sophomore Curtis Drake does not return from re-injuring his leg, as well as starting punt returner along with junior Justin Brown. Brandon Moseby-Felder had 2 receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown. Moseby-Felder should see time in the wide receiver rotation for the Lions this fall. As a whole, I am very excited about the depth skill at wide receiver for the Lions. I look for as many as nine receivers to work into the rotation for the Lions and these include Moye, Brown, Smith, sophomore Shawney Kersey, Moseby-Felder, sophomore Christian Kuntz, junior Bill Belton, and true freshman Bill Belton who will arrive on campus this fall. At tight end, it is questionable whether senior will play at all this fall for the Lions due to a back injury. If he cannot play, sophomore Kevin Haplea will need to step up and play well for the Lions. Also in the mix at tight end for the Lions are sophomore Garry Gilliam and converted linebacker Mike Yanchich, who is a junior. Tight End may be an area of concern for the Lions this season, as they are thin on depth and do not have a proven pass catching tight end.
As for the offensive line, coach Paterno says they are making progress, but are nowhere near where they need to be. After watching them in person, I have to agree with coach Paterno on this take. There were many plays where players on the defensive line were instantly in the backfield. Plain and simple, the Lions need to make significant improvements along the offensive line if they want to be successful this season. The uistarting offensive tackles look to be seniors Quinn Barham and Chima Okoli. Junior Mike Farrell, and sophomores Eric Shrive, Nate Cadogen, and Adam Gress will also look to get playing time at offensive tackle this fall. The starting guards should be seniors Johnnie Troutman and Deontae Pannell. Look for sophomore John Urschel to push for playing time at guard this fall. The starting center position is up for grabs and seems to be a three man race between sophomore Ty Howle, redshirt freshman Miles Dieffenbach, and junior Matt Stankiewitch.
Rising sophomore linebacker Glenn Carson made a game high five tackles for the Blue squad. I expect big things from Carson this year as he will work into the linebacker rotation for the Lions. Redshirt freshman linebacker Mike Hull had four tackles and forced a fumble for the Blue squad. Also, look for big things from Hull as he will work into the linebacker rotation for the Lions. The starting linebackers for the game were sophomores Khairi Fortt and Gerald Hodges along with junior Michael Mauti. Fortt looked very impressive making five stops and forcing a fumble for the White squad. Mauti had 3 tackles for the White squad and Hodges had 2 stops for the White squad. I am very excited about how the linebackers look for this coming season.
The defensive line played very well, as there were many plays in which they were immediately in the Lions backfield. Look for senior defensive tackle Devon Still to have a huge year, as he had his coming out party in last year’s Outback Bowl versus Florida. In that game he had 7 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss in that game. Also look for senior defensive end Sean Stanley and junior defensive end Jack Crawford to both have great seasons. The starting defensive line is still up in the air, but look for Still to start at defensive tackle. Players who will be in the rotation at defensive end include Crawford, Stanley, senior Eric Latimore, and redshirt freshman Baublitz. True freshman Anthony Zettel and redshirt freshman C.J. Oliynian may also work their way in the mix at defensive end for the Lions this fall. At defensive tackle Devon Still, Junior Jordan Hill, sophomore DaQuan Jones and junior Brandon Ware look to be in the mix for the Lions. I expect the defensive line to return to top form this season, looking more like the 2008 and 2009 squads, rather than last years squad.
Although the entire starting secondary did not play, I look for the secondary to have a huge year as senior D’Anton Lynn will start, as junior Stephon Morris and senior Chaz Powell will battle it out for the other starting cornerback postion. Sophomore Derrick Thomas should also see time at corner, provided that he stays out of Joe Pa’s doghouse. Local product Alex Kenney from State College high school may push Thomas for time at corner, as Kenney has a ton of potential. Kenney is a redshirt freshman. At safety, seniors Nick Sukay and Drew Astorino should start and both should be 100% for the fall as Sukay is rehabbing from a pectoral injury and Astorino near recovered from a shoulder injury. Also, look for sophomore Malcolm Willis to get plenty of playing time as he had a big year last season, and sophomore Stephen Obeng-Agyapong will push to get playing time. I am cautiously optimistic that this will be the best secondary the Lions have had since the 2005 season, but no matter what it should be a great season for the Lions secondary.
I was confused as I saw junior Evan Lewis, who is listed as a wide receiver for the Lions line up to kick a 20 yard field goal, which he made. I still think the kicker this fall will be true freshaman Sam Fink, who is set to arrive on campus this fall. Sophomore punter Anthony Fera should be one of the top punters in the Big Ten this season. As far as the return game goes, numerous candidates will look to grab the two kick returner spots. These include Chaz Powell, Stephfon Green, Silas Redd, Devon Smith, Alex Kenney, and Shawney Kersey. Devon Smith and Justin Brown should start at punt returner for the Lions this fall.
Due to the weather, I had a feeling the coaching staff would elect to use very conservative play calling for the game, which is exactly what they did. There were not many long pass plays, and no trick plays were used. As far as the 2011 season goes, Penn State fans should be very excited about this years Nittany Lion football team. This is a team with a lot of depth, potential, and talent at the skill positions on offense as well as a ton of talent and depth on the entire defense. I am very much looking forward to this season, as I believe the sky is the limit for the 2011 Nittany Lions football team.
About the Author
Written by Cyril Rumsey
My name is Cy Rumsey and I am from Johnstown, PA. I attended college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and graduated in May of 2010 with a degree in Health & Physical Education. I have always had a tremendous interest in sports, as I have played sports such as hockey and football since a young age. I love to watch many different sports such as NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, professional hockey, and professional football. Also, I have been analyzing and writing about my favorite sport teams since high school. My favorite sport teams include the Penn State Nittany Lion football and basketball teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I do not really have a favorite NBA team, and although I am not a huge fan, I prefer the New Orleans Saints over any other NFL team. My hobbies include writing about my favorite sports teams, weight lifting, running, hanging out with friends, and anything that involves having a good time. I have two jobs as I am a substitute teacher, and work at the newly built and just recently opened Kovalchick Convention Center in Indiana, PA. If you would like to know anything else my e-mail address is email@example.com.