Key Takeaways From The 2023 Blue-White Game
The 2023 Blue-White Game has come and gone, with those outside Penn State football’s program gaining a better sense of the depth chart’s current status and potential playmakers ahead of next season.
While it’s still too early for any final verdicts on position battles, several veterans boosted their chances of winning them. Meanwhile, other newcomers emerged as names worth watching as the offseason progresses. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the annual scrimmage.
The Quarterback “Competition” Is A Foregone Conclusion
Despite a slow start, Drew Allar had an impressive game, completing 19-of-30 pass attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown. His arm talent was on full display, especially during the fourth quarter when the former five-star prospect snuck a submarine-angled throw past an oncoming pass rusher.
With a new starter taking over this season, the coaching staff has said that Allar and redshirt freshman Beau Pribula are in a competition for the job. However, it’s hard to see how Allar doesn’t win it. His potential is higher, and he looks like the better of the two. That much was most evident in Pribula’s numbers, as he completed just 10-of-27 pass attempts for 92 yards and one interception.
The Third Receiver Spot Is Wide Open
Sophomore wide receiver Omari Evans had a terrific performance on Saturday, turning seven targets into 80 receiving yards and a touchdown. Of all Penn State players, he might’ve elevated himself the most, as there has been an ongoing battle for the third starting wide receiver spot.
Evans’ path to a starting role is not guaranteed, though. Dante Cephas is set to join the program in the summer after transferring from Kent State with years of production, and others could potentially be on the way if James Franklin can attract any more portal prospects.
Additionally, it would be premature to rule out certain returning players. Redshirt freshman Kaden Saunders entered an efficient game, too, with 57 receiving yards on four receptions. With Saunders’ blossoming relationship with Allar, the former four-star recruit’s position on the depth chart may still improve.
Penn State’s Secondary Remains In Good Shape
The secondary once showed that it should be a strong unit once again this season, as multiple players flashed.
Following the final whistle, the defensive stat sheet was overrun by Penn State’s relative newcomers. Kevin Winston Jr. boasted the second-most tackles of anyone on the field with six while Jashaun Green logged an interception. Storm Duck recorded a tackle for loss, and so did Mehki Flowers, who also had a pass breakup.
To be successful this season, the Nittany Lions’ younger players have large shoes to fill, with the departures of future NFL players Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown. Blue-White was an encouraging sign for the future.
Tony Rojas Is The Real Deal
Early enrollee Tony Rojas had himself a day on Saturday. The linebacker recorded a total of nine tackles, including six solo stops, and a pass breakup. Pass rush designs, run support schemes, and coverage packages all featured the budding star.
Could Rojas quickly emerge into a starter à la Abdul Carter last season? It’s possible.
With so much offseason buzz surrounding the former four-star recruit, the summer will be an interesting storyline to follow. Especially with how good Penn State has been at linebacker — and with no major departures — the Nittany Lions may be even more dangerous at that spot than fans have seen in a while.
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About the Author
For the second year in a row, the Land Grant Trophy is headed back to State College.
Voting is now open and closes on Wednesday, November 29.
Head coach Mike Rhoades lost his first matchup against his former team.