Normally the Friday before a game, we’ll be bringing you the score predictions of the VBR staff and some thoughts on what to expect during the game. With it being Blue-White Weekend, and quite frankly, the fact I don’t entirely understand the scoring system, I asked some of the staff to share what they are looking for this week going into the scrimmage. Here’s what they had to say:
Tim Tolley – Editor…Emeritus?
While most eyes will be on the quarterbacks this Saturday, I’ll be watching the other backfield. There are several things brewing in the Penn State secondary that have caught my attention and while I know we’ll get a vanilla look, scheme-wise, I’m more interested in the bodies at coach Butler’s disposal. From what I’ve heard, sophomore Jordan Lucas has taken over as the front-runner to start at corner alongside Amos. Lucas played primarily on special teams last year so fans will be getting their first look at him in coverage on Saturday. I’m interested in seeing how Butler manages his nickel and dime packages with Davis and true freshmen Anthony Smith and Jordan Smith.
At safety, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong is out due to a shoulder injury, and we’ll get a good look at some young guys there as well. Trevor Williams, who burnt his redshirt last year at wide receiver, has moved over to safety and has brought redshirt freshman Malik Golden with him. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m high on Golden. I thought he had a terrific skill set for a safety coming out of high school and I loved his attitude when I asked him about potentially playing defense a year ago. Fans will also get their first looks at Jake Kiley and walk-on Colin Harrop.
Outside of the secondary, keep an eye on linebacker Gary Wooten. He’s flying under the radar but with the depth issues, he could end up playing significant snaps this fall. Have fun this weekend and be safe!
Eric Sion – Staff Writer
The obvious thing that everyone will be looking for in the Blue-White game is how the quarterbacks competing for the starting job, Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson, perform. But I’ll change it up a bit and say that what I’m looking for in the annual spring game is how the linebacking corps does.
Matt McGloin is a big loss as Bill O’Brien heads into his second season at the helm in Happy Valley. Just as McGloin was the quarterback of the offense, the linebackers lead the defense. Penn State returns middle linebacker Glenn Carson, but the losses of Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges are significant holes that need to be filled.
Mike Hull is definitely going to start at one of the outside linebacker spots, but the second one is still up for grabs. Redshirt freshman Nyeem Wartman is the frontrunner to win the job and no matter who ends up winning it, Penn State’s linebacker depth won’t be great this season.
Redshirt sophomore Ben Kline, who is slated to get significant playing time, has been out for the spring after having shoulder surgery. Redshirt freshman Gary Wooten has impressed O’Brien during the spring and true freshman Brandon Bell, who will arrive on campus in the summer, could see some time too. Zayd Issah was also projected to see decent playing time as a true freshman, but that isn’t going to happen in 2013. Whatever depth that Penn State has at linebacker is very young and inexperienced.
We know what Carson can do and Hull did make a start against Wisconsin filling in for Mauti. But that third linebacker spot is what I’ll be paying attention to. Wartman did play as a true freshman in the 2012 opener against Ohio, but injuries derailed his season. It will be interesting to see how healthy he is and how he performs. Hopefully he’ll be able to plug in at that other outside linebacker spot and can continue the great tradition of Linebacker U.
Matt de Bear – Editor
You’ve been following my thoughts all week, so this probably won’t be too much of a shock. But I keep going back to the linebackers. The quarterbacks are going to get much of the attention, but I feel confident O’Brien has talent to work with, as well as depth. That is not the case at linebacker.
Penn State graduated two very talented players in Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, and will turn to Mike Hull and Glenn Carson to hold things down. Nyeem Wartman had a great opportunity this spring to solidify his spot with Ben Kline’s injury. But, behind those 3 healthy bodies, there’s a big question mark, and not many bodies. The other guys alluded to it, but keep an eye on Gary Wooten, who has a great opportunity to contribute.