Penn State’s 2023 Blue-White Report Card
Penn State football’s 2023 Blue-White Game provided fans and others outside the program with a glimpse of how both returning starters and early enrollees alike, among others, have progressed during the offseason.
The annual scrimmage returned to a format that resembles more of a normal game, with the Blue Team and the White Team playing each other in an 11-minute, four-quarter format.
The Blue Team mainly consisted of starters, while several redshirts and early enrollees played for the White Team. It was a competitive game, and the Blue Team won 10-0. Despite the lack of offense, positions on both sides of the ball performed well.
Drew Allar had a nice game despite a slow start. He completed 19-of-30 pass attempts (63%) for 202 yards and one touchdown. His only touchdown came on a 28-yard strike to Omari Evans in the first quarter to put the Blue Team up 7-0.
Allar’s arm talent is evident. The touchdown pass to Evans was just one of several impressive throws made by the sophomore that displayed such talent and accuracy, including a submarine-angle pass.
Meanwhile, Beau Pribula didn’t experience much success. He went 7-for-22 and threw for 56 yards and one interception. However, he was good at escaping pressure in the pocket.
Running Backs: C
The running backs barely contributed to the game, which is surprising for an offense that relied so heavily on Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen last season. Allen had the most rushing yards of the game, with just 15. Still, it’s not much to worry about, as we have already seen what the top two running backs are capable of during the regular season. Tank Smith also saw some late-game action, totaling 15 yards on five carries.
It wasn’t the best showing for the running backs, but they didn’t really get many chances to carry the ball, as Amiel Davis had the most carries on the day with six. Additionally, Tyler Holzworth led the White Team with 20 receiving yards.
Wide Receivers: A-
Omari Evans in particular impressed, amassing 80 of the Blue Team’s 238 receiving yards. He also had the game’s lone touchdown and certainly made his case in securing the Nittany Lions’ final starting spot at wideout.
Kaden Saunders, another Blue Team player, had 57 receiving yards on four catches. The redshirt freshman certainly improved his case to see more playing time this coming season.
Meanwhile, the White Team had only 56 receiving yards. Transfer wideout Malik McClain had 18 of those yards.
Tight Ends: C+
Khalil Dinkins, Joey Schlaffer, and Jerry Cross each saw action. Dinkins had 14 receiving yards over three targets, Cross had six receiving yards over four targets, and Schlaffer had four yards over one target.
Offensive Line: B+
Franklin had offered high praise for the offensive line in his postgame press conference, saying “We haven’t had two offensive lines like that,” since he’s been at Penn State.
The group was steady for most of the day but did have some slip-ups, allowing a few sacks and tackles for loss.
It’s going to be exciting to see what the group continues to do moving forward, especially with the likes of Alex Birchmeier and J’ven Williams having high potential.
Front Seven: A+
The front seven looked great on Saturday. Tony Rojas, in particular, was very impressive. His nine tackles were the most of any player on the field.
The defensive line frequently put pressure on both quarterbacks, causing them to scramble and, in many cases, derail plays by throwing incomplete passes or throwing the ball out of bounds. Dani Dennis-Sutton led the way with two sacks and a quarterback hurry in what was a dominant performance for the sophomore defensive end.
The secondary seemed to be fine in its first game without Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown, who are both entering the 2023 NFL Draft.
Lamont Payne Jr., Mehki Flowers, Daequan Hardy, and Johnny Dixon all had pass breakups. Redshirt freshman safety Jashaun Green also had the game’s only interception in the fourth quarter, picking off Pribula. Zakee Wheatley, however, had the most tackles out of anyone in the secondary with four.
Payne, Flowers, Hardy, Dixon, and Wheatley should all be in line to see more playing time this season, and it’ll be interesting to see how they build on a positive performance in the Blue-White game.
Keep an eye on transfer Storm Duck, who also had a tackle for loss. He may have a leg up on the other players mentioned, given that he’s more experienced than them. The former Tar Heel may be in line for even more playing time at cornerback. However, it’s still too early to tell how Penn State’s starting secondary will ultimately shake out, but all of these players likely only helped their cases in the scrimmage.
Special Teams: A
Punter Alex Bacchetta had five punts for 167 yards. He’s someone that could see an uptick in playing time this year after redshirting last season. Riley Thompson had one punt that went a booming 62 yards. Mitchell Groh also had just one punt, which was good for 38 yards.
Senior Alex Felkins had the only field goal of the game, which was 22 yards.
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