The Penn State Nittany Lions wrapped up their first spring practice under new head coach James Franklin. The game was run as a traditional scrimmage with the Blue (made up mostly of starters) taking on the White squad. The Blue team dominated the game, especially on the defensive side, and came out with the 37-0 victory. There are many angles to the game and several things that could be analyzed and taken away.
VBR will be putting up plenty of post-Blue-White Game material this week. For now, here some random thoughts I have after attending the game.
• As expected, the defense was ahead of the offense. The Blue defense, essentially the first team, pitched a shutout against the White offense. C.J. Olaniyan looked strong and could be a standout on the defensive line in 2014. Anthony Zettel, who moved from defensive end to defensive tackle, looked extremely comfortable, getting into the backfield on several plays and recording a sack.
• Kicking woes are nothing new at Penn State. With Alex Butterworth gone, the Nittany Lions get to find someone new to take over the punting duties. Right now, that guy is redshirt freshman Chris Gulla. After watching him on Saturday, I’m still not sure what I think. He did average 40 yards per punt with a long of 50, but I wasn’t overly impressed, especially considering he didn’t face a rush on any of his punts.
• Don’t get too excited about the performance by Cole Chiappialle. There’s always a standout who comes from nowhere during the scrimmage game. Last year it was Deron Thompson and Akeel Lynch who both ran wild. However, neither made a huge impact during the regular season. Still, Chiappialle did show great skill during the game and got me a little excited that I may be able to dust off my #33 jersey that’s left over from the Austin Scott fiasco.
• I forgot how much I enjoy watching the wildcat. I was confused when I first saw Hackenberg split out wide as a receiver, but I’ve always been a fan of the formation. Naturally, running back Bill Belton seems like the best fit to run it.
• The official numbers from Penn State are that 72,000 people filled Beaver Stadium for Saturday’s scrimmage. While not the 80,000 that Franklin was hoping for, it was an encouraging sign. Looking around and seeing the lower bowl nearly completely filled gave me hope that Beaver Stadium will once again be filled to capacity for every home game like it used to. Franklin has garnered a lot of excitement around the program and there are high expectations for the future.
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