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Saturday’s Penn State Football Day! 

Saturday’s James Franklin’s Day!

Is Penn State going to win the National Championship this year?

You bet we are!

Currently the Penn State football team has more question marks than the Riddler. After a disappointing 2015 season Coach James Franklin had to replace both his offensive and defensive coordinators. The program also lost many  of their  play makers in Christian Hackenberg, Anthony Zettel, and Carl Nassib. All of these changes have left the team with more questions than answers. This years, the Blue-White game provided the public with an opportunity to see this overhauled Penn State squad for the first time. I attended the game yesterday and wrote down some observations during the scrimmage.

Pregame 

  • Always great to be back home in Beaver Stadium after a four month hiatus
  • It is a beautiful day for football in Happy Valley at 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky
  • Punt returner mishandled the ceremonial pregame punt, not a good sign from the football gods
  • Tyler Davis kicks the ball over the netting while practicing an extra point during pregame. Ball was about one row from hitting me. I was around 25 rows back from the field.
  • The 2016 recruiting class was honored prior to kickoff. Pittsburgh RB Miles Sanders received the loudest ovation.
  • Zombie Nation count:1
  • Right before kickoff lower bowl looked around 75-80% full while the upper deck was completely empty. I looked up the official attendance after the game and the number was around 65,000 or around 60% of Beaver Stadium’s capacity 

1st Quarter 

12:00 Ball is placed at the 25 yard line automatically for the start of each drive.

11:23 White O-Line pushed back QB Tommy Stevens scrambles well to escape the pressure.

10:44 Pocket collapses once again Tommy Stevens able to escape and run for a couple yards. Nice to see us have a mobile QB for a change

10:12 Blue team takes over after a three and out by the white squad

9:56 QB Trace McSorley has completed a few short passes to the outside. Blue has been showing a quick tempo so far. Receivers look to mostly be running short crossing routes.

9:21 Blue O-Line has looked good so far, holding the pocket and providing running lanes.

9:20 Injury Timeout for LB Jason Vranic. Able to walk off the field. Potential consequence of the fast tempo?

9:03 McSorley completes another great pass. WR Saeed Blacknall goes up to make a good catch. Offense still focusing on short passes towards the sideline. McSorley making a good effort to spread the ball around.

8:28 RB Mark Allen executes a great cutback run. Makes the extra effort to grind out a few more yards by braking a couple tackles. Hard runner.

7:58 McSorley throws a bullet down the middle to TE Mike Gesicki. Gesicki shows improved hands after numerous drops last season.

7:33 Touchdown blue team! McSorley fires a pass right down the middle to a wide open WR Chris Godwin. Godwin with a good second effort to beat a defender down at the goal line to make it in for the score. McSorley has been red hot so far completing every single one of his passes. Really liking the new offensive style so far. Quick, short ,and efficient . A nice change from a year ago.

7:32 K Tyler Davis punts the kickoff out of the back of the end zone.

6:58 Tommy Stephens back to scrambling around. This time he is able to rush for a first down.

6:12 Tommy has completed a few good short passes once again to the outside. Play seems to be of importance in Joe Moorhead’s playbook.

5:11 CB Grant Haley makes a nice defensive play by breaking up pass.

4:20 DL Kevin Givens gets a sack on Stephens. D-line was once again able to get good penetration. Stephens looked a little too eager to tuck it and run on that play.

3:54 McSorley throws a screen to Mark Allen. Allen shows good footwork to get extra yardage.

3:18  WR DaeSean Hamilton with a great catch able to execute some nice cutbacks to gain a few extra yards.

2:13 Another fine run by Allen. Puts his head down and forces his way to pick up the first down.

1:39 CB Amanni Oruwariye picks off McSorley. Not sure if Trace overthrew it or if it was a miscommunication with the WR.

1:32 Screen pass blown up by LB Manny Bowen. Makes a great one on one tackle.

:59 Stephens tucks it and runs once again. Most likely able to get more yards in game since QB is down after being touched in the scrimmage.

:15 Safety! Blue squad able to sack Stephens once again, but this time in the end zone. Sack credited to DE Evan Schwan.

:14 K Nick Boumerhi punts the ball. Not very good. Only goes around 20-25 yards and short hang time.

2nd Quarter 

Carl Sighting! At the end of the first quarter Carl Nassab was honored for the numerous national awards he earned during last season. I can’t wait to see all his hard work pay off in the NFL.

11:48 McSorley fires another quick slant to Saeed Blacknall.

10:56 McSorley calls an audible at the line to adjust for the LB shift. Leading to a nice run by Mark Allen.

10:23 good catch by DaeSean Hamilton on the screen along with a good roll out by McSorley.

9:24 Touchdown! McSorley finds Saeed Blacknall in the corner of his second passing TD of the day. CB made a bad read and play on the ball.

9:23 Horrible kickoff. Only went 20 yards before bouncing down the field. Not sure if terrible kick or just practicing a squib.

9:00 Kevin Givens able to get great penetration again and stuff the runner for a two yard loss.

8:38 Read option sighting! Stephens makes a great read and decides to keep it himself for a nice 5 yard gain.

7:48 Garrett Sickles once again sacks Stephens. Not a good series for the O-Line.

6:44 McSorley sacked by DE Shareef Miller. First weak play by blue O-line today.

6:01 O-line picks up outside blitz to give McSorley enough time to get the ball to Blacknall for a third down conversion.

6:01 Zombie Nation count: 2 (slow edition)

3:17 DE Colin Castagna able to blitz on the outside and take down McSorley for a sack.

2:55 McSorley connects with Mark Allen on a good screen. Allen shows nice feet and awareness while running up the sideline.

1:39 Great route ran by Chris Godwin to set up a first and goal.

1:30 White D-line makes a good goal line stand to stop Mark Allen.

:59 Touchdown! McSorley able to roll outside of the pocket and connect to TE Tom Pancoast. Nice pump and pass by Trace.

:00 Not much going on in the last few seconds of the half. White goes three and out leading to a punt as time expires.

3rd Quarter 

Zombie Nation count: 3

12:00 The special team woes continue from last season. Kick returner drops the uncontested kick off at the start of the half.

10:02 Gesicki’s hands are much improved over last season. Comes up with another nice grab.

9:29 Blue’s offense really working on the screens. Ran them multiple times this drive with much success. Very safe coverage by white team.

8:13 Andre Robinson has switched sides now playing for the blue squad. Comes up with a nice run thanks to a great hole by the O-line.

7:43 High thrown by McSorley. Could have been an easy interception in a real game situation.

6:52 Touchdown! McSorley throws a bullet down the middle to WR DeAndre Thompkins who also switched over the blue squad at halftime. Thompkins ran a great post route to get open. Another great read and throw by McSorley. Been extremely consistent today.

6:16 Tyler Davis Almost kicks the ball over the netting again on the extra point attempt. Kid has a heck of a leg.

6:05 Blue D-line makes a good push to stop the outside run for no gain.

4:56 Stephens has continued to make a habit of tucking and running. Picking up good chunks of yards on each attempt. Not sure how effective it’ll be in a game situation.

3:53 Good throw by Stephens to find TE Danny Dalton picks up a nice chunk of yards.

2:37 Another tuck it and run by Stephens to convert the third down conversion.

2:07 Great defense by CB John Reid to break up a pass.

:55 Designed run or read option keep (couldn’t tell which) by Stephens able to pick up 14 yards. Been running well the whole game.

:00 Great coverage by the blue defense forces Stephens to throw the ball away.

4th Quarter 

Right before the 4th quarter began the 2005 Penn State team was recognized. Arguably the best Penn State team of the 21st century so far with a 11-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory.

12:00 John Reid makes another good defensive play to break up a pass. Looked good on his own as a DB so far.

11:01 S Malik Golden CB Jordan Smith worth together to prevent a TD pass with fantastic coverage in the endzone.

9:54 Tommy Stephens switches sides and checks in as QB for the blue squad. Starts the drive off with a nice roll out and pass for a first down.

8:00 Touchdown! Andre Robinson also switches over the blue team and caps off the drive with a great thirty yard touchdown run. Great acceleration once he turned the outside corner. Smart running also to make sure he got into the endzone.

4:33 Billy Fessler comes on to be the QB for the white team. Like his counterparts today Fessler is extremely mobile.

4:00 Fessler makes a nice across the body pass to WR Gregg Garrity. Strong running after the catch the gain extra yardage.

3:18 Bad false start on the offense.  Potentially a consequence of the quick tempo.

2:42 Bad tackling for the blue defense. Lets WR dance around for a long time before eventually taking him down. Also gave up a 15 yard unnecessary roughness call. Sloppy play towards the end of the game.

1:51 Another false start on the white offense. Not too much crowd noise here in Beaver Stadium to cause much of an issue. Issue should be ironed out with practice.

1:00 DE Torrence Brown bats down Fessler’s pass. Great situational awareness.

:33 Fessler able to scramble away from pressure and complete a nice short pass.

:00 As time expires Tyler Davis pushes a 41 yard field goal attempt wide left.

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