2018 Blue-White Game Recap

Story posted April 21, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Christian Katt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After a long winter that left Penn State Football fans wondering what could have been if it weren't for a pair of mid-season, back-to-back losses on the road to Ohio State and Michigan State, Penn State football returned to Happy Valley taking its first step for the 2018 campaign.

The Blue Team consisting of mostly starters such as Trace McSorley, Miles Sanders and Micah Parsons defeated the White Team by the score of 21-10 in front of approximately 71,000 Penn State faithful.

Surprisingly, McSorley played nearly the entire first half, despite expectations for him to get very little playing time, if any, due to Penn State head coach James Franklin's history of keeping star players off the field such as Saquon Barkley last year. This was due to second-string Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens not being completely ready after battling a leg injury.

McSorley completed 10 of 14 passes for 107 yards and a short touchdown pass in the first quarter. Despite a couple of underthrown deep passes, McSorley looked sharp to begin his third season as a starter. Most of McSorley’s work was done on his feet, as he was the game’s leading rusher in the first half. McSorley gained 41 rushing yards on six attempts, averaging 6.8 yards-per-rush.

If it wasn’t for the scrimmage non-contact on the quarterback rules, McSorley would have had several long rushes that may have brought that total way upward. Penn State ran the option with McSorley, Miles Sanders, and Mark Allen. This led to most of McSorley’s rushing yards as he made the right reads for nearly every play.

Other notable Penn State players that did not play in the Blue-White game were wide receivers Juwan Johnson and  De'Andre Thompkins. This let some young wide-receivers to get some of the spotlight and develop chemistry with the Penn State offense.

One of the beneficiaries of the increased playing time in the Blue-White game was Mac Hippenhammer. Playing both baseball and football, Hippenhammer’s was impressively prepared for the Blue-White game. Hippenhammer caught all four of his targets for 43 yards and two touchdowns.

Franklin praised Hippenhammer for how well he’s done off the football field after the game.

“He crushed it in the classroom, did better than I even anticipated. Once spring ball started, we shut him down for baseball, because he’s on a football scholarship.” Franklin said. “Now I’m excited to support our baseball program and support Mac.”

QB Sean Clifford showed some flashes of excellence after relieving McSorley of his duties. Clifford completed half of his eight passing attempts for 58 yards. This included an absolutely perfect 29-yard touchdown pass to Hippenhammer.

On Clifford’s performance, James Franklin said, “He got a lot of reps to be able to grow and compete. He throws the ball extremely well. He laid a solid foundation this spring.”

Running back Miles Sanders, the junior who is expected to replace the vacancy that Barkley is leaving after declaring or the draft, saw very limited action in the Blue-White game, getting only three touches.

Freshman linebackers Jesse Luketa of the White Team and five-star recruit Micah Parsons shined on the defensive side of the ball. Luketa was all over the field throughout the game, recording four total tackles. Parsons had eight total tackles including a sack.

A big day for official and unofficial visits by recruits, the Blue-White game drew a verbal commitment from Caedan Wallace, a four-star offensive guard out of New Jersey. Wallace committed to Penn State prior to the game despite several other offers from big-name schools such as Clemson and Oklahoma.

If the Blue-White game is any indicator of how the 2018 season will be for Penn State Football, they are in for an exciting offensive attack despite needing to replace key positions. The Nittany Lions will open up their much anticipated 2018 season on Sept. 1 against Appalachian State in Beaver Stadium.

 

Christian Katt is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email cjk5620@psu.edu.