Analyzing Post-Blue-White Game 2024 Reactions For Penn State Football

When do we start planning road trips to West Virginia?

Another Penn State football Blue-White Game has come and gone from Beaver Stadium, and with Team White’s 27-0 win, it’s time to turn our attention to summer ball for the Nittany Lions.

Before we do that, though, we need to break down Penn State’s play from Saturday. Between Beau Pribula’s unimpressive showing to AJ Harris taking over the secondary, there was plenty to take away from the scrimmage.

Beau Pribula’s Poor Play Ended The Quarterback Controversy

Joe Lister: I was never high on the idea of Penn State having a “quarterback controversy,” despite what people in my ENGL 202D class might say. Pribula is a great mobile quarterback, but he lacks the arm power. He can still develop, but right now, he’s just an undersized running back.

The Blue-White Game emphasized that Pribula’s arm is holding him back. Drew Allar threw a better game than anyone and it wasn’t close. If Pribula can figure out how to become a consistent passer, he’ll become a star instantly. Until then, he’ll be stuck as Penn State’s second option.

Nolan Wick: There probably never really was a quarterback controversy. I still think Allar has more potential. If he can sharpen his accuracy, he’s going to be a much better quarterback. Just give the guy some more help at wide receiver. 

Mitch Corcoran: Was there a quarterback controversy to begin with? The answer is no, and Pribula further proved that point. Pribula is a great runner and reminds fans of Trace McSorley with that No. 9 on the back of the jersey, but Allar’s arm and decision-making are significantly better and we saw that in the Blue-White Game.

CJ Doebler: I don’t think there was a quarterback controversy in the first place. There have been fans calling for the backup to get a chance every year I’ve been at Penn State, and every year, I think Franklin has made the right call at the quarterback position. This year, I don’t think it’s any different. Yes, the passing game struggled last year but that wasn’t Allar’s fault. During practice viewing, Pribula showed that he didn’t have the arm that Allar does, and I believe that was put on display for the fans during the Blue-White Game on Saturday. Pribula should still be used, though, and I think we’re going to see more of the Pribula package this year in Andy Kotelnicki’s new offense.

Trey Wallace Is Going To Compete To Be WR1

Joe Lister: I think this is a reasonable take to have after the Blue-White Game. Julian Fleming didn’t have a great game, with just one catch for five yards, but that was also a symptom of Ethan Grunkemeyer experiencing some growing pains in his first time tossing the pigskin in Beaver Stadium.

That being said, Trey Wallace looked great with Allar as his quarterback. He made some really nice plays and was easily the best wideout on the White Team. Still, the battle for top wide receiver slots is still up in the air.

Nolan Wick: If we looked exclusively at what happened in the Blue-White Game, then Wallace would have the spot locked up. However, I think Fleming, despite his weak performance, will still end up being the WR1 because of his experience and potential. Wallace did have a really good game and it could happen, but I’m going to hold off on declaring him the WR1 for now. 

Mitch Corcoran: Wallace is already the No. 1 receiver. If he wasn’t banged up last year, he would have been the top target then, too. Wallace’s route running and his ability to separate and make plays after the catch make him the best receiver on the team. KeAndre Lambert-Smith entering the transfer portal and Fleming only seeing three targets this weekend further proves Wallace is the No. 1 guy.

CJ Doebler: If he can stay healthy, yes. After missing significant time last year, it’s hard to tell just how good Wallace is, but he led the group with five catches for 72 yards. It’s important to keep in mind that this was just a spring game, though. Last year, Evans was the breakout receiver during the Blue-White Game but that didn’t materialize into anything during the season. With Lambert-Smith in the portal, the focus will now be on Wallace and transfer addition Fleming. Fleming only had one catch for five yards during the game but, once again, this is only the spring game and there’s still a while to go before we see the team’s true potential.

The Top CB Spot Is AJ Harris’ To Lose

Joe Lister: Harris certainly looked the part on Saturday. KJ Winston didn’t play, but Harris showed why Penn State wanted him out of the portal. He finished the day with seven tackles, the most of anyone on the field, paired with two tackles and a nice pass breakup against Malik McClain. He had one play where he noticeably lacked in coverage and gave his receiver too much space, but other than that, he looked solid.

Winston will certainly be in that conversation for the top spot when we get through summer and fall ball, but Harris will have a case to make.

Nolan Wick: The former five-star looked really good on Saturday with a pass breakup, seven total tackles, and two for loss. Harris was all over the field, and he had a promising showing overall. He absolutely looked like a No. 1 cornerback.

Mitch Corcoran: Harris had an impressive debut on Saturday. He was aggressive and physical, which is the exact playstyle James Franklin and Terry Smith are looking for in their corners. In the Peach Bowl a few months ago, Cam Miller started at corner and struggled in coverage. The Rebels had nearly 400 yards through the air and 270 of those yards were between two receivers. I still think Miller is going to start this season, but Harris looks like he will be the No. 1 guy. We still have a long summer ahead, but things are looking good for the former transfer.

CJ Doebler: After the performance from the untested Penn State secondary in the Peach Bowl, I think Harris eased a lot of minds about the state of the room for next year. Harris led both squads with seven total tackles during the scrimmage and added a pass breakup to his Blue-White Game stats. The secondary was a question mark with the departure of a handful of seniors, but between Winston and Harris, I think the group can return to the level of play we saw last year.

After Nick Singleton & Kaytron Allen Are Gone, Penn State’s Running Back Room Is In Good Hands With Cam Wallace & Quinton Martin Jr.

Joe Lister: At this point, I should note I strongly detest having opinions about spring game performances. Last year, I thought Omari Evans was the second coming of Jahan Dotson after his 80-yard, one-touchdown performance. His 2023 season went, well, we all know how it went.

With that in mind, I’m a bit of a no-comment on Cam Wallace and Quinton Martin Jr. I thought they both looked good, but realistically, they only churned up 70 yards of turf between them. Martin may have had two touchdowns, but he also reaped the benefits of the better offensive line.

Martin and Cam Wallace will likely be a strong pairing in 2025 simply because Penn State produces good running backs. However, it’s not for certain that they’ll be the guys in a year.

Nolan Wick: Penn State’s running backs are really freaking good, folks. Martin, Wallace, and eventually Kiandrea Barker will all be ready to thrive here. I have my concerns about this program, but the running back room certainly isn’t one of them. 

Mitch Corcoran: What Ja’Juan Seider has done during his time at Penn State has been nothing short of spectacular. He has been one of the best recruiters in the country and he has developed that talent, too. Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen have become one of the best running back duos in the country and the Blue-White Game showed that there is potentially another duo ready to step up. Cam Wallace and Martin had impressive performances and both broke off some nice runs. They combined for 70 yards of offense and two touchdowns. It’s very possible those two will see significant reps throughout next season as well.

CJ Doebler: The spring game is, at its essence, a chance for the next generation of Penn State football players to suit up and get some reps inside Beaver Stadium. With neither Singleton nor Allen participating in the Blue-White Game, that’s exactly what happened for the running back room. In addition to the strong performances from Cam Wallace and Martin, Penn State picked up a commitment from Alvin Henderson prior to the game, who is one of the top running back prospects in the Class of 2025. Under Seider’s leadership, I think the running back room will be just fine for a long time after Singleton and Allen move to the next level.

Good Riddance, KeAndre Lambert-Smith

Joe Lister: On Monday, Lambert-Smith officially hit the transfer portal. Personally, I think keeping Lambert-Smith in the wide receiver room would have been a positive, no matter what role he played. He’s a solid wideout who just didn’t make the cut, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have been one of the best No. 4 options in the country.

Still, I get why he left. If he was supposed to be the top guy and wasn’t, he can find his answer somewhere else. Penn State clearly just wasn’t a fit anymore, and he’s good enough to deserve a good fit.

Nolan Wick: Lambert-Smith’s departure is what’s best for both sides. It became clear toward the end of last season that something was off. I’m surprised it took this long for him to enter the transfer portal because the writing was on the wall as far back as Black Friday when he only had one catch in Penn State’s 42-0 blowout of Michigan State in Detroit. He followed that up by doing nothing in the Peach Bowl and refused to speak to the media after the game.

At some point, he fell out of favor here. He was propped up to be one of the best wideouts in the conference, but it just never happened. His production last season was mediocre. He had to move on for a chance to get his career back on track, and now, Penn State can move forward with other, younger options. 

Mitch Corcoran: Best of luck to Lambert-Smith in the portal. Franklin said multiple times this spring that he likes the talent of the receivers room and Lambert-Smith was a big part of that. It’s still possible Lambert-Smith takes the next step Franklin predicted he would, it would just be for another team. There is a lot of unproven talent at the position, so some young receivers are going to have to step up. I think picking up an experienced receiver in the portal would be advantageous.

CJ Doebler: After not being present at the game on Saturday, it was safe to say Lambert-Smith is as good as gone. Now, it’s official. Normally, losing a top receiver would be detrimental to a team, but Lambert-Smith had zero yards in two of the Nittany Lions’ last three games of the 2023 season and was nowhere near his expectations leading up to the season. In hindsight, he was never a WR1 and I believe Fleming and Wallace will be able to step up and fill the production that Lambert-Smith is leaving behind.

Andrew Rappleyea Can Allow Penn State To Run 12-Personnel Next Year If Needed

Joe Lister: See: Martin and Cam Wallace. Andrew Rappleyea had a good game with a nice touchdown catch, but it’s too early to say that he and Tyler Warren can combine for a similar role the way Warren and Theo Johnson did last year.

I do think Rappleyea can have more of a role than Khalil Dinkins did. Still, that doesn’t mean Penn State will be able to lean into a 12-personnel system. Franklin ~seems~ confident in his wide receivers, even if nobody else is, so this might not actually be a discussion come August.

Nolan Wick: Rappleyea had a nice touchdown to end the game. However, he only caught three of eight targets for 33 yards, and his touchdown reception was for 30 of them. That still isn’t great, but I was encouraged by seeing him involved in the game. I’m interested in seeing how the tight end room shakes out because 12-personnel shouldn’t be out of the question. Pencil in Warren as the obvious starter, but then you have a deep and talented room with Rappleyea, former four-star Jerry Cross, five-star freshman Luke Reynolds, and even Dinkins. It’s one of the best tight end groups in college football, and I would bet it’s used frequently. 

Mitch Corcoran: Penn State played a lot of 12-personnel with Johnson and Warren last season, and it was one of the few things that worked well offensively. Now that Johnson is on his way to the NFL, the other tight end spot is wide open, and if you watched Rappleyea over the weekend, he looked like a great candidate for the position. At 6’4” and 250 pounds, Rappleyea looked like the next big, athletic Penn State tight end as he saw a game-high eight targets including a 30-yard touchdown reception at the end of the game on a nice wheel route.

CJ Doebler: Penn State’s tight end room is another position group that has been in good hands for a while and will continue to be a positive for the team in years to come. This year will be Warren’s at the helm of the room, but there’s solid talent in the depth chart that Kotelnicki will be able to lean on during the upcoming campaign. Rappleyea had a good performance during Saturday’s contest, and I think he’ll be a good option to run 12-personnel if that fits into the new offensive scheme.

Penn State’s Wide Receivers Will Be Just Fine

Joe Lister: Nah. Franklin may have expressed confidence in his wide receivers, but I’m not quite there yet. Fleming will be a good option, but Trey Wallace’s health is still a concern. Behind those two, Kaden Saunders might not be up for the task. The same applies to Liam Clifford, McClain, and others. We’ll see if Penn State goes for anyone in the portal, but this room still needs some work.

Nolan Wick: I still have serious concerns regarding the wide receiver room. Fleming only had one catch for five yards, which is uninspiring about the team’s headlining acquisition of the offseason to say the least. The same receivers who weren’t reliable enough last season are still here and, excluding Wallace, I wasn’t impressed. Saunders, who is in the running to be the WR3, only caught two of his six targets. Despite all of this, Franklin said postgame he believes the room is ready to take the next step. I don’t know how he could possibly believe that after Saturday’s showing, but maybe, hopefully, I’m wrong. Still, I have to go with what I saw on Saturday, and it looked exactly the same as last season. 

Mitch Corcoran: I’m not sold on the receivers yet. I can very well see a repeat of last season from the receivers, but I could also see the room taking the next step. The core has talent and with that talent comes potential, but they didn’t really show any of that on Saturday. Trey Wallace looked good and there were some nice plays from the group overall, but, for the most part, there was a lot left to be desired. Time will tell if this room is as talented as many think it is.

CJ Doebler: The jury’s still out on this one. Besides being able to get open and make plays, a good wide receiver has to earn the trust of his quarterback. I can’t comment on what Lambert-Smith was like in the locker room, but, based on Allar’s postgame comments, there’s a good relationship forming between the quarterback and Fleming. Having a veteran who’s played at the highest level like Fleming will not only be helpful to the quarterbacks but also everyone in the wide receiver room. There are still questions after Saturday’s spring game, but when the Nittany Lions take the field against West Virginia later this year, I think it will all be sorted out.

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