Game Day Observations: Blue-White
There’s nothing like Saturday at Beaver Stadium, and this weekend’s Blue-White game certainly didn’t disappoint. Football-hungry fans packed the stadium in the perfect weather to catch the official start of the post-Christian Hackenberg era at Penn State. Between the tailgates, enchanting aroma of grilled meat, and abundance of Neil Diamond, there was plenty to see around campus. Ethan Kasales, Steve Connelly, and I took in the sights and sounds of this weekend’s Blue-White festivities.
The running game is deep. Forget about Saquon Barkley for a second. He didn’t play and we already know a lot of what he can do. Mark Allen and Andre Robinson were deadly throughout the Blue-White game. Both are shifty, powerful backs that can take down Big Ten opponents. Now add Barkley to the mix and you’ve have a very versatile running game. This will be the bread and butter of the offense next season.
The new offense will work for whoever the quarterback is next year. Regardless of who will start against Kent State in September, he will look a lot more comfortable in the offense than Hackenberg did in the James Franklin era. Whether it was Trace McSorley’s ability to get outside the pocket and hit his wide receiver or Tommy Stevens’ ability to roll out and gain yards on the ground, both showed what they can produce in a system like this as athletic quarterbacks. These quarterbacks both seem like great fits for Joe Moorhead’s system. Even though losing a quality player like Hackenberg hurts, there shouldn’t be a huge drop off in play from that position.
The hype looks pretty real. Joe Moorhead’s new attack is all about efficiency and getting the ball to Penn State’s myriad playmakers. Trace McSorley sure looked prepared to run this offense, tossing four touchdowns through two and a half quarters of play, but the most impressive stat was his completion percentage (23-of-27 = 85 percent).
While James Franklin refused to tip his hand on the status of Penn State’s quarterback competition, maintaining that Tommy Stevens will have a chance to close the gap this summer, McSorley continued right where he left off in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The redshirt sophomore spread the ball around to 10 different receivers, including a few spot-on screens to the Blue team running backs. In total, a whopping 14 Nittany Lions recorded a catch.
Regardless of whether McSorley takes the reins this summer or if Stevens plays his way back into contention, Penn State fans should be excited about the near future of the offense.
It was awesome to have the 2005 Orange Bowl champs back in Beaver Stadium. The 2005 Nittany Lions made countless memories on their legendary 12-1 run, so it was only right that they received a lion’s helping of applause during their return to Beaver Stadium.
All-time Penn State great Michael Robinson led a large contingency from that legendary team onto the field for one heck of a photo op midway through the Blue-White festivities, but Saturday’s appearance also provided an important opportunity for the Lettermen to better connect with James Franklin’s staff.
It was a real treat to see so many beloved Nittany Lions back in State College on a picture perfect day.
Penn State Dogs!
Even puppies enjoy a good Penn State tailgate. pic.twitter.com/ZMTaYzGhhG
— Onward State (@OnwardState) April 16, 2016
Would you look at those pooches! Dogs roamed the fields in search of hot dogs and burgers, and received their fair share of lovin’ from fans and student journalists (me) alike. Those Very Good Dogs deserve a nice steak if you ask me. There’s something special about Blue-White weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of covering numerous classic games during my time at Penn State, but I still get the chills each time I walk up to that Beaver Stadium press box. This happened to be my first Blue-White game up in the box, and as I strolled about campus on my bike and peered down from my lofty perch, I felt the magic of this weekend. It’s a congregation of Staters past and present, all in the name of family, friends, good food, good beer, and a story. A lighthearted buzz surrounded the stadium, and the energy it created was palpable. The game is fun, sure, but the true meaning of this weekend is to enjoy the euphoric tailgating atmosphere with those you care about — even well after the game had ended.
We hope you enjoyed the Blue-White festivities as much as we did, and we’re counting down the days until Penn State’s home opener on September 3 against Kent State.