It’s time to clean up the RV and start making plans to head to University Park because the 2012 Blue-White game is a scant four days away.
Fueled in part by Bill O’Brien’s more open access to his practices and players, there is a buzz about this game–if you can call it that–more than any other in memory. And with so many questions surrounding this team and its new coaching staff, it is easy to see why.
Will a 6-6, 277 pound tight end really line up behind the quarterback? Will the offense look like the Patriots’ offense? Safety blitzes? Man to man pass coverage? Silas Redd catching the ball in space? Open receivers? Stronger, quicker linemen? Eleven defenders on the line of scrimmage? No-huddle offense? Emerging stars? Freshmen on the field? Whew!
That list could go on and on, and sometime near the end of September, all the questions will be answered. Saturday, though, is just the beginning and, given coaches’ penchant for not tipping their hands too early, look for things to be pretty conservative.
So what can we expect? What follows is a totally biased, arbitrary and subjective list of the things we can expect to see–or not–on Saturday.
A big crowd? Definitely, depending on decent weather. Wouldn’t it be ironic if more people attended Bill O’Brien’s first scrimmage at Penn State than attended the Super Bowl? There were 68,000 at that game, and we can easily beat that. By the way, the weather prediction for Saturday calls for rain and thunder, but we all know that a long-range weather forecast is even less reliable than the predictions in this article.
Silas Redd? Yes! But don’t blink or you will miss him. There have been hints about him being nicked up this spring, and the staff will be rightfully very cautious with him.
Tight ends lining up behind the quarterback? Maybe. Don’t expect, however, even close to the full complement of formations, schemes, and plays that will be on display in the fall. Until then, opposing coaches will have to look at depressing tapes of the Patriots to try to figure out what PSU will be doing. That doesn’t mean there will not be things to watch. The whole tone of the offense–and defense, for that matter–will be different, and how organized, efficient, and mistake free the team plays will be important.
Will the starters be the starters in the fall? Probably not everywhere, but the spring game is a good place to get an idea about starters. Look for a lot of scrutiny about who plays where and how much especially in the defensive backfield, offensive line, tight ends, and quarterbacks. O’Brien seems like he will be apt to mix in younger guys, even freshmen, more quickly, so the competition for spots in all positions will be high throughout the year.
Speaking about quarterbacks, will the game reveal “separation” between them? It would be surprising if that happened. In his first B-W game, Paul Jones looked like the best of the lot, and he is still fighting to get onto the field so the B-W can be deceiving. This will likely be a wash, but look for all of these guys to be making quicker and more decisive decisions. The competition will really heat up in camp.
Safety blitzes? No way. The defense is going to fake a lot of them though, and if what the players have been saying is any indication, the D will be moving around all over the place. They will be fun to watch, and we will have a better feel about what to expect from them in the fall than about the offense. Everyone will be watching how the offensive line will fare against what could be a very good PSU defensive line.
Will the game be high-scoring? Possibly yes and possibly no, and both are bad in a way. If it’s low scoring, we’ll worry about the offense all summer. If it’s high scoring, we’ll worry about the defense. Does it really matter? No–look for good plays on both sides of the ball.
Will they turn down the “music” that blares the entire game? Not a chance. It might even get louder.
Will the game be entertaining? Absolutely. And the nicest thing about the Blue-White game is that the Victory Bell will ring no matter what happens.