Blue-White Game Turns Into Lopsided Affair
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Wonderful weather and the return of football brought 65,000 fans to Beaver Stadium in the hopes of watching a quality contest of an intra-squad matchup of the Blue-and-White’s best to offer. In the end, however, the result was just like the cloudless Happy Valley sky: Clear from start to finish, and all Blue.
Penn State’s spring season comes to end with the Blue team’s dominant 37-0 victory over the White team in the annual Blue-White spring game. The Blue crew led in every offensive statistical category, especially in total yardage, which Blue outgained White 411 to 115.
Despite the lack of a team contest, that did not mean there was a lack of individual competition on the gridiron. The intra-squad duel allowed several players to showcase their skills on the field and make their cases for positional battles all across the roster.
The biggest competition coming into the day was at the quarterback position left vacant by draft-declaring Christian Hackenberg. The top two guys, Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens, started off on opposite sides and squared off head-to-head. McSorley had a standout day with four touchdowns and one interception on 23 of 27 passing while Stevens still put up 100 yards in the air off of 10 completions while adding on 18 yards on the ground.
A key factor in the offense’s success was the newly adapted up-tempo speed from new offensive coordinator Jim Moorhead. The team continued to grind out drives and get quick scores on explosive plays, resulting in three touchdowns of 20 yards or more. One beneficiary from the quicker pace was wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who led all players with five receptions for 45 yards and a score.
“I love the speed,” Blacknall told GoPSUsports.com. “I get tired, but the speed is good. It’s one of those offenses where you attack the opposing defense really fast and create big plays whenever.”
The junior is used to prominent performances in the annual game as he led the team in receiving yards last year with 71. The results could be due to his work in the offseason, which he received the Red Worrell Award for on Saturday to signify his performance over the spring.
Penn State head coach James Franklin also thinks the new style is a perfect mix for the direction of the team.
“It’s a good fit,” said Franklin. “Our offensive line, the experience that we have at receiver now, the playmakers at tailback, the mobility at quarterback, it’s just a good fit for us. It’s a good marriage.”
Penn State’s defense also displayed their fair share of noteworthy performances. The play of the day was made by defensive end Evan Schwan of the Blue team, who sacked Stevens on the end zone for a safety in the first quarter.
Redshirt–freshman Kevin Givens of the Blue squad also made a statement by leading the field in total sacks (2) and tackles for loss (3.5). Sophomore Colin Castagna helped lead the way for the White side as he topped everyone with six solo tackles while adding on three tackles for loss and a sack to his stat sheet.
The game’s lone turnover came at the end of the first quarter when Amani Oruwariye picked off an easy ball thrown right to him by McSorley. The interception marked the first of the redshirt-junior’s collegiate career.
Several Nittany Lions remained on the sidelines for Saturday’s showdown for unspecified reasons. While they are most likely precautionary, players like Saquon Barkley, Bandon Bell and Nyeem Wartman-White found themselves to be simply spectators of the game’s actions.
For those who got on the field, Franklin said he was pleased with their performances and the team now has something to work with.
“I thought offensively we were able to lay a foundation and build some confidence,” said Franklin. “We’ve identified some of the areas we need to improve with”…”I thought we had a great spring.”
Ryan Berti is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter:@RBirdman7