Tinsley impresses, Allar struggles in 2022 Blue-White game
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – It’s only April, but coach James Franklin understands that the Sept. 1 season opener against Purdue is right around the corner.
Penn State returned to Beaver Stadium for the first time since Nov. 20 for the annual Blue-White game on Saturday.
Not having the personnel to do a traditional scrimmage, the Nittany Lions put a twist on their No. 15 practice of the year.
They broke it into eight segments with the offense playing and the defense, mixed with 7-on-7 action, two-minute drills and plays down in the red zone.
Franklin acknowledged that plenty of work lies ahead for the blue and white coming off a 7-6 record last campaign.
“We answered some questions this spring, but obviously we still have some questions going into fall camp,” Franklin said. “There is a lot of work that still needs to be done between now and fall camp.”
Here are five takeaways from the Blue-White game.
Allar falters in home debut
While sixth-year senior quarterback Sean Clifford will most likely be the starter come September, all eyes were on five-star Drew Allar, who was heralded as the successor to Clifford.
Allar’s beaver stadium debut didn’t go as most people had planned, with the No. 32 player in the nation struggling mightily.
The Medina, Ohio, native finished the day completing just six passes on 14 attempts while also tossing two interceptions.
Although Allar struggled, many other players stood out.
Fifth-year senior wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley showed out in his Beaver Stadium debut.
Tinsley scored the lone offensive touchdown for the blue and white and completed the afternoon hauling in two catches for 23 yards.
The former Western Kentucky standout has drawn comparisons to Jahan Dotson for his elusiveness and catching ability.
Tinsley has made an impact on the receiver room for the Nittany Lions with high praise coming from sophomore Malick Meiga.
“He’s going to make a play every time he gets the chance to,” Meiga said. “He always has a positive attitude, great vibe and a lot of playfulness.”
Penn State will need a lot of production from Tinsley to help replace the playmaking ability of Dotson.
A new man in the middle
The Nittany Lions lost several linebackers to the NFL Draft including Brandon Smith and Jesse Luketa.
With many holes at linebacker and specifically in the middle, the blue and white need players to step up and redshirt freshman Kobe King has done that.
King drew the attention of many during the spring and was getting reps with the first team on Saturday.
The Detroit, Michigan, native recorded a game-high five tackles and was making plays all over the field.
Fellow linebacker sophomore Curtis Jacobs was extremely impressed by what he has seen from King.
“He’s done a great job and has been really impressive this spring,” Jacobs said. “From the day he came on campus, I knew he was going to be a good player and I’m glad everybody gets to see that.”
Another linebacker that played well on Saturday was redshirt-freshman Dominic DeLuca, who had two tackles, a sack and an interception.
New season, same running woes
Penn State struggled to run the football effectively last season and there has been a great deal of focus from Franklin on the running game this offseason.
Running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider brought in two of the top halfbacks in the country to Happy Valley in Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen.
Despite Singleton and Allen being ranked inside the 12 backs in the 2022 class, the duo failed to make an impact in their debuts on Saturday.
Allen had eight carries totaling 29 yards while Singleton ran the ball four times and had zero yards.
As a team, the Nittany Lions didn’t run the ball effectively averaging just 3.6 yards per carry.
The blue and white need a rejuvenated rushing attack if it wants to be successful next season.
After losing Jaquan Brisker, who declared for the NFL Draft, the Nittany Lions secondary is going to need people to step up.
Fifth-year senior safety Ji’Ayir Brown mentioned that the secondary has been operating off the mantra of “Let’s get it.”
“‘Let's get it’ means let's go after guys. Let's be on offense, even though we're on defense,” Brown said. “We're trying to attack guys, not people attack us, and that's been the motto all spring for the whole defense.”
One player that has embodied the “Let’s get it,” mentality has been redshirt-freshman safety Zakee Wheatley.
According to Franklin, Wheatley has a nose for the football, and assistant coach Terry Smith mentioned he leads the blue and white in interceptions this spring.
Wheatley continued a strong spring on Saturday tallying three tackles and three pass breakups.
While the Crofton, Maryland, native is listed behind Brown on the depth chart, Wheatley will see the field a lot with his big-play ability.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org