Something old, new, borrowed and blue–the Spring tradition of the Blue White football game may be old, but Coach O’Brien spiced it up with some personal commentary and play calling in the second half, and Michael Mauti was borrowed, so to speak, to help announce on the air waves, while Blue (the defense) rolled to a 67-47 win over the White (the offense) before an estimated crowd of 28,000 fans who braved the cold and wintry mix of sun and precipitation. This is the second year under O’Brien that Blue has won.
I won’t belabor you with analysis of the “game” since the scrimmage is a far cry from the real thing, but I will pass on some first impressions I had from actually being at the game (i.e. not watching it on TV and having the ability to pause and replay.)
I think our running game will be pretty good. Yards right up the middle were tough, and that may be more to the credit of the defensive line than a problem with the running game. But I watched a couple of guys with some speed to the edge and some nifty moves. Akeel Lynch ran for 83 yards and a touchdown and appears to be the “real deal.” I was particularly impressed with Deron Thompson (who added another 97 yards rushing.)
As for QBs, Bench came out throwing and looked pretty good in his opening drive. However, he had less success as the game went on. Conversely, Fergusen didn’t look particularly good in the early going, but had some nice throws and got into more of a rhythm as the scrimmage progressed. None of the other QBs really left any impression on me.
O’Brien came out in the second half and tried to thaw the crowd out. He got the WE ARE . . . PENN STATE chant going and suggested they start the wave. We complied. He also piped his mic over the PA System for a series so we could hear the play calls. I REALLY like this guy.
Zwinak left early with a hand injury, and Allan Robinson wasn’t a major factor as a receiver, but he had a really nice reverse for twenty some yards where he actually doubled back (essentially a double reverse that wasn’t drawn up as such.)
All of the players who ran, caught or threw for a score today were freshmen or sophomores. Depth may be an issue in the linebacker area, but I thought the D-line did a pretty decent job, and I thought the secondary held their own.
There were no punts in the game, but an extra point and a mid-range (37-yard?) field goal were missed. Concerned about the kicking game even though Ficken seemed to turn things around the latter part of last season.
Five Nittany Lions were recognized for their efforts during halftime of the game. Rising sophomore cornerback Jordan Lucas and junior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan were presented the Jim O’Hora Award. The defensive award is named in honor of Jim O’Hora, a long-time Penn State assistant coach who was a member of the coaching staff for 31 years.
Senior center Ty Howle earned the Red Worrell Award, presented to the offensive player whose spring contribution is most worthy of special tribute. The Nittany Lion coaching staff singled out Lucas, Olaniyan and Howle as the defensive and offensive players, respectively, who have best demonstrated exemplary conduct, loyalty, interest, attitude and improvement during spring practice.
Junior guard Miles Dieffenbach and junior linebacker Mike Hull were recognized as co-recipients of the Frank Patrick Total Commitment Memorial Award. This award goes to junior class squad members who consistently follow through with their responsibilities in all facets of the football program and do so in exemplary manner. This includes academic pursuits, off-season preparation, in-season commitment, demeanor and community service.
Full descriptions of the awards and some past winners can seen at the Penn State web site.