Post-Spring Practice: Trace McSorley And Noah Beh Lead Positional Battles
While the starters at running back and linebacker seem to be locked up, there’s a number of starting spots still up for grab. When Penn State takes the practice field again in August, these will be some of the more closely fought battles as the Nittany Lions gear up for the season.
Quarterback: Trace McSorley vs. Tommy Stevens
All in all, it was a positive day for both quarterbacks. McSorley was the favorite for the starting job going into the game, and the redshirt sophomore couldn’t have put up a better performance. While it should be noted the defense he was going against was not exactly the cream of the crop, McSorley looked extremely comfortable and poised running Joe Moorhead’s offense. He found a number of different receivers, and knew when to tuck the ball and run with it.
On the White squad, Stevens — unsurprisingly — had a much tougher go of it. Behind an offensive line that couldn’t keep defenders out of the backfield, Stevens had little time to go through his progressions, and often had to run the ball because of a broken play. Still, the redshirt freshman performed admirably, displaying a strong arm and an abundance of athleticism.
Edge: Trace McSorley
Offensive Guard: Ryan Bates vs. Derek Dowrey vs. Brendan Mahon
All three guards had strong games on Saturday, and they all bring something different to the table. Bates is still prone to mistakes here and there, but is clearly the most athletic one of the bunch. Because of that, even on plays that he whiffs on he’s usually athletic enough to not get completely blown up. Keeping in mind his quick development over the past year, and it’s hard to imagine him not locking up one of the guard spots.
Dowrey — at least in Penn State offensive line standards — has always been a solid guard. He has the size, technique, and deceptive quickness, but his lack of length hurts him at times. Unfortunately, that’s something that isn’t teachable and will always be a hinderance. Meanwhile Mahon has the size, length, and is a good athlete too, he just needs to put it together mentally. His performance in the Blue-White game looked like a good step forward, so if he continues his strong play into the fall, he could be a slight favorite over Dowry for the final starting spot.
Edge: Ryan Bates and Brendan Mahon
Right Tackle: Noah Beh vs. Paris Palmer
The rise of Beh could be one of the bigger stories to come out of spring practice because at this point he appears to be the favorite over incumbent starter Palmer. Beh made very few mistakes during the scrimmage, and it wasn’t like he was going against a walk-on defense end, but rather uber-athletic — albeit undersized — redshirt freshman Shareef Miller.
The best part about Beh pushing Palmer for the right tackle spot? It’s a true competition, something that Penn State hasn’t had along the offensive line due to lack of depth in a couple seasons. Regardless of who wins, the fact there’s a legitimate battle shows there is progress being made.
Edge: Noah Beh
3-Tech Defensive Tackle: Kevin Givens vs. Antoine White
Along with Beh’s development, Givens rising up the depth chart is the most surprising story of the spring. The former defensive end might not have the size of a tackle, but a quick first step, nonstop motor, and natural strength make up for it. Givens lived in the the White team’s backfield, totaling a couple sacks and tackles for loss.
The question for Givens is if he can keep it up. While White isn’t exactly the biggest defensive tackle in the world at 6-foot-2, 283 pounds, he’s certainly bigger than Givens at 6-foot-1, 267 pounds. So while the redshirt freshman’s play was impressive, he might be another season away from starting.
(Note: JUCO Tyrell Chavis will be enrolling in June and should factor into the competition too.)
Edge: Antoine White