Storylines To Watch During The 2023 Blue-White Game
We’re now approaching the heart of spring, which means it’s time for the Blue-White game. Although it may not be as anticipated as a regular-season game, the Blue-White game is worth paying attention to if you’re a hardcore fan who can’t wait to see the Nittany Lions on the gridiron.
But, exactly who will be wearing the basic blues and black shoes starting at all the positions remains to be seen. While KeAndre Lambert-Smith being the offense’s main wide receiver and Nick Singleton sharing primary running back duties with Kaytron Allen are virtual guarantees, other positions haven’t quite been figured out yet.
Saturday’s scrimmage serves as a good opportunity for those outside the football program to get a glimpse of how players have developed and who is getting the majority of snaps at each position. So, let’s break down the three most important position battles that should be paid attention to this weekend.
Penn State will have a new starting quarterback under center this season for the first time since 2019, and the coaching staff is labeling Drew Allar’s and Beau Pribula’s pursuit of the job as a “competition.”
Even though all signs point to Allar eventually landing the starting job, the coaching staff has hinted that Pribula could end up with more reps in practice by the end of spring camp.
Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to watch this unfold. How will both Allar and Pribula look on Saturday in the middle of their second offseason in the program?
Additionally, it will also be interesting to see how the coaching staff works with both players to prepare them for being starting quarterbacks, and how the program navigates that situation. However, the most important part of the 2023 offseason remains both quarterbacks’ development, and Saturday will provide a better sense of how much Allar and Pribula have developed.
It’s no secret that KeAndre Lambert-Smith will be Penn State’s primary wideout this season. Meanwhile, Trey Wallace is likely to be the No. 2 option in the wide receiving corps. But, it remains to be seen who the No. 3 wideout will be for the Nittany Lions.
Franklin implied on Tuesday that the battle is wide-open and there is no definitive answer yet. However, there are two intriguing options that fans should look out for this weekend and throughout the remainder of the offseason.
One option is sophomore Omari Evans. He played in all 13 games in his true freshman season last year which is impressive, as it shows he is further ahead in development than his fellow sophomore teammates and has earned the coaching staff’s trust. Despite playing in every game, Evans only had 55 receiving yards and one touchdown last season.
Another option is Dante Cephas, the senior transfer from Kent State. Cephas has played well in his last two seasons for the Golden Flashes. He had 1,240 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 and followed it up with 744 yards and three touchdowns in 2022.
Although Cephas is not on campus and won’t be playing on Saturday, Evans’ playing time could be a sign of what his role may be moving forward.
There’s going to be significant turnover at safety with both Ji’Ayir Brown departing. That loss will affect the team both on and off the field. So, who steps up?
Jaylen Reed is probably the most likely option. Reed had 31 tackles, two of them being for loss, and three pass breakups over 13 appearances last season. That experience itself makes him a strong candidate to take over for Brown.
Meanwhile, Kevin Winston Jr. is another name to watch. He appeared in 12 games last season, which was also his true freshman season. He made 16 tackles, with 11 of them being solo and one being a tackle for loss. Seeing playing time in all but one game and making an impact by having tackles in many of them is a good sign for his development.
While the battle is likely to come down to Reed and Winston, redshirt freshman Mekhi Flowers could see increased playing time and might be a dark-horse candidate for the starting job. Flowers was a four-star coming out of high school, so the potential is there. The Blue-White game serves as a good opportunity for him to potentially show the coaching staff he’s capable of performing “under the lights” in front of a big crowd, as opposed to practice.
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