Penn State’s New-Look Offense Dazzles In Beaver Stadium Practice

For the first time in nearly 18 months, Beaver Stadium played host to a general admission crowd for Penn State football’s second scrimmage-styled practice event within the last six days. Although the roars didn’t quite sound the same, James Franklin’s squad produced plenty of fireworks throughout Friday evening’s primetime spectacle.

Sean Clifford commanded the first-team offense on the game’s opening drive and instantly brought the limited-capacity crowd to its feet. After beginning the game with a completion on a short gain to Parker Washington, the junior signal-caller delivered a strike to Jahan Dotson, who sliced his way through the Nittany Lion secondary for a smooth 64-yard touchdown reception.

Ta’Quan Roberson headlined the second-team attack on the following series but was unable to generate enough yardage to move the sticks for his unit. His lone completion came on third down, but sophomore cornerback Daequan Hardy delivered a timely hit directly at the line of scrimmage to end the set of downs.

Clifford trotted back onto the field soon after to lead a situational drive beginning from the 1-yard line. His early momentum continued, as he stepped into a routine pass to Cam Sullivan-Brown to generate yardage in opposing territory.

After moving the sticks, the offense stalled courtesy of a terrorizing sequence from linebacker Curtis Jacobs. The former blue-chip product nailed transfer running back John Lovett deep in the backfield for a loss, which consequently ended the first-team offense’s second outing.

Shortly thereafter, the second-team offense began its possession on the 1-yard line. Christian Vellieux received the keys to Mike Yurcich’s system, but the drive’s first snap went over his head, resulting in a safety. However, the ball remained with the unit, as Keyvone Lee jumpstarted the cold group by ripping off a few bruising carries for a first down.

The situational-styled drives continued, but this time beginning at midfield. On a pivotal third down, Clifford lofted a high-arcing ball toward the sideline that was caught in impressive one-handed fashion by budding superstar Parker Washington.

Clifford continued to move the ball with ease and completed yet another deep ball to Cam Sullivan-Brown, leading his unit to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, after surveying the short field, the veteran quarterback scamped from under center to find the end zone on a shifty carry for his second touchdown of the evening.

Reserve tailback Tank Smith helped Taquan Roberson ultimately find his rhythm in the passing game by setting up the backup offense with a flurry of solid gains on the ground. A few first downs helped the New Jersey native settle down, as he found transfer wide receiver Winston Eubanks for yet another impressive, one-handed reception from Taylor Stubblefield’s group.

The catch placed the second-team offense inside the 5-yard line, as Roberson stretched to break the plane on the next play for his unit’s first touchdown of the scrimmage.

Special teams drills highlighted the game’s next segment, but Roberson led the reserve offense back onto the field after a short stint on the sideline. After commanding a methodic drive, Yurcich elected to keep his unit on the field on fourth down, but a screen attempt to Justin Weller wasn’t enough to keep the offense in control.

Christian Velliuex took over starting duties in place of Sean Clifford for the White-team offense but wasn’t able to provide the same spark as the undisputed QB1. The drive stalled around the opposing 35-yard line but ended in points as Jordon Stout connected on a 47-yard field goal attempt.

The White-team offense remained on the field with a few changes in personnel, including Clifford back in at quarterback. His second pass of the drive resulted in a screen to emerging second-year star Keyvone Lee, who catapulted the unit back inside the 20-yard line. Lee ended the possession with a short dive at the goal line, resulting in yet another scoring drive for the White team.

Roberson returned in the shotgun for the reserves and showed signs of progress and the game continued. The promising backup showcased his poise as the pocket collapsed and threw a dot to a wide-open Malick Meiga to set up an additional red zone scoring chance. Moments following, former Baylor bell-cow John Lovett powered into the end zone for his first score as a Nittany Lion.

Late in the game, the defensive stars began to show their teeth against the waining offensive line. Brandon Smith found Clifford deep in the backfield for the defense’s second sack of the night to stall the first-team offense’s last showing of the scrimmage.

On the final series, walk-on quarterback Mason Stahl received the reigns to Yurcich’s unit. The Pittsburgh product led a slow-moving drive spurred by pass interference penalties down to the 25-yard line. Stahl found his confidence late, connecting on the game’s final touchdown pass to fellow walk-on Benjamin Wilson to cap off an offense-heavy spring practice at Beaver Stadium.

For one last time this spring, the team rushed to the south end zone as the senior class in attendance enjoyed one, final rendition of the Alma Mater as Penn State students. The sentimental finale, followed by stadium-wide high-fives, capped off a picture-perfect night in Happy Valley.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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