Defense Defeats Offense, O’Brien Pleased with QB Play

Heading into today’s Blue-White game, the thought existed that some separation in the quarterback competition between Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson could be created.

After what transpired at Beaver Stadium, that does not appear to be the case, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The quarterback play itself was far from bad despite the defense (blue) defeating the offense (white) 67-47.

“There’s always a few plays you wish you had back, but I thought both guys did some decent things,” said head coach Bill O’Brien. “I’m gonna go back and watch film over the next week. I think both guys did some really good things.”

Unlike last year’s spring game where O’Brien quickly settled on Matt McGloin as his starter, he appears in no position to do so this time around. That makes a lot of sense after today.  The stats are almost identical:

Bench 9-15, 99 yards, 1 TD, sacked twice

Ferguson 9-15, 90 yards, 2 TDs, sacked three times 

Bench started the first series under center and guided the offense down the field with some help from redshirt freshman running back Akeel Lynch and a 29-yard end-around run by Allen Robinson. An 18-yard completion to Matt Zanellato set the offense up on the 3-yard line, and Lynch finished the job two plays later with a 1-yard run. It was the beginning of a big day for Lynch which saw him record 85 yards on the ground on 13 carries.

Ferguson struggled to move the offense in his first two series, going three and out both times, but got going in the second quarter when he found Jesse James in the back of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown. He and James would go on to establish a nice connection as the tight end finished with 77 receiving yards and was responsible for 47 of Ferguson’s 90 passing yards.

Similar to the first half, Bench played the first series of the third quarter and started strong, completing four of six passes including a 6-yard strike to Brent Wilkerson for the game’s third touchdown.

Ferguson went three and out on his next series but remained in the game and found freshman Richy Anderson in the right corner of the end zone on a 4th and 5 play towards the beginning of the fourth quarter.

O’Brien made it clear as ever that he has no intentions of running a two-quarterback system. A starter will be named, just not right now.

“Eventually, we’ll have to name a starter, but I’m not ready to do that now. We’re a long way off from that.”

“I think you have to give both a lot of credit. Here are guys that are a long way from home. As it relates to Tyler, he came here site-unseen. He put his stuff in a suitcase and trusted Penn State was the right place for him, and the team has done a great job of accepting him. I’ll say the same thing about Steven last year. He came here from Georgia — a long way from home — and both guys have assimilated themselves well with the team.”

Until Christian Hackenberg arrives on campus, it is obvious this is a two horse race as walk-ons Austin Whipple and D.J. Crook both tossed interceptions in the few series they played.

“Our guys have been consistent all spring,” said center Ty Howle. “They’ve really done a great job getting in the huddle and showing leadership.”

“Both guys have had big springs and improved a lot, ” said Allen Robinson. “You’re going to see them get more comfortable in the huddle and feel better about the operation we’re trying to run.”

O’Brien knows he has some tough decisions to make, and he certainly learned more about his 2013 team from today’s game, but now is not the time to make arguably his hardest and most important decision.

“I knew Penn State was going to win,” said a jovial O’Brien. “I just wanted these guys to have fun.”

Notes: 

  • Redshirt sophomore Deron Thompson led Penn State with 97 rushing yards on 13 carries.
  • Defensive linemen Austin Johnson, Brad Bars, and Evan Schwan all recorded two sacks.
  • Schwan also led the defense with 2.5 tackles for loss while defensive tackle Derek Dowrey added two.
  • Sam Ficken missed a 37-yard field goal wide left into the wind and an extra point at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
  • Alex Butterworth held for Sam Ficken as opposed to his usual holder, Ryan Keiser.
  • Several players including Bill Belton, Garry Gilliam, DaQuan Jones, Adam Breneman, and Kyle Carter did not play due to injury.
  • Jesse Merise and Jonathan Zuk recorded the two interceptions for the defense.
  • John Butler said after the game that Adrian Amos will enter training camp as a safety after playing mostly cornerback the last two seasons.
  • Attendance was estimated at 28,000 according to Sports Information Director Jeff Nelson.

About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

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