Christian Hackenberg and the stars of the Penn State football program played only limited minutes, as expected, in a lopsided Blue-White game. The Blue squad won 37-0 in a lopsided affair. Hackenberg looked sharp, however, in his limited time on the field, showing solid poise in the pocket and an improved confidence. The Blue squad, comprised mostly of the starters, dominated the game from the beginning, leading to their big win.
The surprise star of the game was former walk-on running back Cole Chiappiale. Running mainly out of the wildcat formation, Chiappiale carried the ball nine times for 63 yards and two scores. He also added two catches for 17 yards for the Blue squad. Chiappiale’s emergence made it consecutive years that a little-known running back made their mark on the game.
The running game was successful for the Blue team all game long, even behind the makeshift offensive line. With just seconds left on the clock, Akeel Lynch added the final score of the contest to add to the offensive onslaught. Despite the strong rushing attack, the offensive line failed to hold up in pass protection, struggling with many new faces and limited depth. Offensive lineman Wendy Laurent was the only injury on the day.
While stud quarterback Christian Hackenberg was able to make some things happen offensively, the rest of the quarterbacks failed to impress. Michael O’Connor, Austin Whipple and DJ Crook all failed to gain a rhythm during today’s contest. However, much of that could be attributed to a lack of timing and practice with the receivers. This much was evident on a beautiful ball down the sideline from O’Connor in the direction of Matt Zanellato that fell just past the out-stretched hands of the receiver. Zanellato was able to pull down a touchdown on a wide receiver reverse pass from Geno Lewis.
On the defensive side of the ball, the stars included C.J. Olaniyan and the entire secondary. Olaniyan provided consistent pressure on the White squad’s quarterbacks. Trevor Williams hauled in an interception and the secondary was active all day long. Many of the big names on the defense saw limited time, opening up the day for some unknown guys to shine. State College’s own, linebacker Matthew Baney, a walk-on transfer from St. Francis (PA), added a pick-six.
While the offense looked shaky at times and the lack of depth was certainly evident, the spring game showed enough excitement and promise to hold fans over for quite some time. The atmosphere was solid and fans seemed to love the usage of trick plays and the wildcat offense. On a day in which Penn State vaulted to the number one recruiting class in the country for 2015, Nittany Lions’ fans spirits are certainly high.
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