Football! Your Blue-White Game Preview
It’s that time of year again. Thousands of fans pack into Beaver Stadium for a game that means absolutely nothing for records or statistics. But the end of spring practice is here, and we get our first look at the 2011 Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday in the annual Blue-White Game. Although there are injuries to 19 different players listed on the spring roster, we’re offering a preview of the things you’ll (hopefully) see on the field this weekend.
In his spring teleconference on Wednesday, Joe Paterno said that Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden are both ready to play at this point in the spring and they could both do a great job with the offense. Of course, controversy surrounds Bolden because his status as a Nittany Lion in the fall is still in limbo after his January transfer fiasco resulted in him seeing how the spring went. McGloin will have to deal with the memory of his last outing, where he threw five picks in an Outback Bowl loss to Florida on New Year’s Day. And, of course, Kevin Newsome and this writer’s favorite signal-caller of the group, Paul Jones, should get some reps later on in the game.
Paterno also mentioned the offensive line is still in need of a lot of work. After losing all-American guard Stefan Wisniewski and center Doug Klopacz to graduation, there are holes that haven’t been filled yet, which has made for troubles up front so far.
Those holes will need to be filled so that the line can make holes for the impressive amount of running backs that return this season. Silas Redd is poised to take over the featured back slot, but will be challenged by Stephfon Green, Brandon Beachum (who is returning from ACL surgery), and half-man, half-bull Curtis Dukes. If the offensive line can get its act together, these backs should all have great years.
Finally, on the offensive side of the ball, the wide receiving corps should be great once again. Although Graham Zug and Brett Brackett were lost to graduation, the group should still be strong with Moye and Justin Brown. Let’s just hope that no one else injures themselves on Saturday like Moye, Curtis Drake, and Shawney Kersey have this spring.
Some are already calling this season the return of “Linebacker U,” with Mike Mauti moving into the middle and allowing guys like Gerald Hodges, Khairi Fortt, Nate Stupar, and Mike Hull to compete for outside linebacker positions throughout the spring and summer, especially after Pete Massaro went down a few weeks ago with a season-ending ACL tear.
The front four will look different on Saturday than it should in September with ends Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford sitting out the scrimmage, but Devon Still seems poised to take over where Ollie Ogbu left off last year on the inside. It will also be interesting to see if Brandon Ware has finally made it out of JoePa’s doghouse and if he is in the condition to play significant minutes.
The secondary will definitely be a strength again, but you won’t see Drew Astorino or Nick Sukay playing this weekend. D’Anton Lynn will look to improve on his stellar season last year. Chaz Powell will continue his transition into a defensive back and hopefully take over opposite Lynn above Derrick Thomas and Stephon Morris.
While it will be a rainy and dreary day with nine projected starters on next year’s team out, we haven’t sniffed football in over three months, so we’ll take what we can get. If you can’t get out to Beaver Stadium for the game at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, stay warm and dry at home and watch it on tape delay on the Big Ten Network at 9:00 p.m.