Everything was new and different at the Blue-White game on Saturday except, of course, the Blue-White game itself.
There were only basic defenses. Bill O’Brien used only 10% of his offense. Matt McGloin said the offense ran only “three or four” different pass plays. There were five interceptions, eight sacks, and no sign of the multiple formation offense and attacking defenses that so many people have been talking about.
In other words, things were pretty generic, and the 2012 Nittany Lion opponents–along with the rest of us–are going to have to wait until the fall to see what Penn State is really up to.
None of that means, though, that there isn’t anything to discuss about the game. It was actually very interesting for a number of reasons.
No issue has been more in the forefront than the battle for the quarterback position, and nothing that happened on Saturday went very far toward resolving that issue. The general impression seems to be that Rob Bolden had the poorest day of the top three–he completed 7 of 14 passes for 78 yards, along with three interceptions–but Bill O’Brien said after the game that he was not upset with any of the quarterbacks’ play.
Bolden certainly has the arm and the athletic ability to be very successful, but he still sometimes seems indecisive in the pocket and makes errant throws. That could be a function of learning a new offense, something that O’Brien mentioned after the game, and he easily could improve as he gets more familiar with the system.
Or not, but anything can happen during the long season, and I think that he will be given chances to prove himself when PSU begins to play for real.
Matt McGloin went 6-13 for 105 yards with a TD and an interception, while Paul Jones was 6-15 for 113 yards and he also threw a TD and an interception. Not much of a difference there, and both players showed different strengths and weaknesses (although Jones has a great arm). If the season started tomorrow, one of these two would probably start, but frankly, most people are hoping for quite a bit of improvement here.
One other note about the passing game: the quarterbacks completed passes to a total of 14 different receivers, including four tight ends, and there were nine completions that were 15 yards or longer (the longest was 42 yards to Shawney Kersey). As advertised, the tight ends will be very involved the the passing game this season.
Silas Redd played the first series, ran the ball three times for 12 yards, and then didn’t play again. There’s obviously not a lot of debate about who the starting tailback will be.
Zach Zwinak (28 yards) and Bill Belton (48 yards) did most of the running, and both played well. It’s noteworthy that there were no fumbles in the game.
It looks–as it does almost every year–like Penn State again will be able to rely on its defense. There were open receivers, more than you would like to see, but the secondary also snatched five interceptions. Up front, the defensive linemen and linebackers looked very solid. The offensive line had a long day trying to block these guys, especially Jordan Hill (who had an interception) and DaQuan Jones.
What we saw of the kicking game looked competent, and it seems as if Penn State is putting a big emphasis on special teams. Anthony Fera, in warmups, kicked a 57-yard field goal with room to spare.
In general, the team looked very organized and enthusiastic. There were not many penalties called and hardly any illegal motions or botched snap counts. The discipline and attention to detail that Penn State fans are used to are still there.
Oh, by the way, the defense won, something like 77-65. Please don’t ask for a scoring summary.