For the last time as a student, I took in some Penn State football inside glorious Beaver Stadium. Even though it was only a spring scrimmage, it gave us all a glimpse into what we’ll see on the field when Penn State takes on UCF in Ireland in the regular season opener on Aug. 30. So here’s what I took away from Saturday’s Blue-White game:
- The announced attendance was around 72,000. I’m not really sure how they got that number considering there were no tickets, but I’m sure they didn’t just make it up out of nowhere. Regardless, that’s pretty impressive. To compare, Florida State (the reigning national champions) only drew about 36,500 to their spring game. The lower bowl looked very full and it was great seeing so many people coming to a game that essentially means nothing and showing support for the program.
- Since I’ve always done Nittanyville as a student, I never got to fully experience the Penn State tailgating scene. I was finally able to do that for this game. The main tailgating lot (the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot) was packed and the fact that the weather was great made the tailgating environment even better. Hopefully I’ll have plenty more opportunities in the future to tailgate.
- There were a couple of people wearing special jerseys who sat near me during the game. There was a young boy wearing a Michael Mauti Vikings jersey and there was another person wearing a Kerry Collins New York Giants jersey. Mauti is one of my all-time favorite Penn State football players (typical, right?) and the Giants are my NFL team, so I really enjoyed seeing those jerseys in Beaver Stadium.
- In terms of the actual game itself, there was nothing too major that stood out to me. Like I expected, Christian Hackenberg only took a few snaps and he looked pretty sharp for the short time that he was on the field. And not like we didn’t know this already, but the offensive line will definitely be a concern. Wendy Laurent went down with an injury in the second half and I was holding my breath because that’s how little depth this offensive line has. And with Anthony Alosi suspended indefinitely, that only adds more concern.
- Most of the big guns didn’t play at all or barely played, so we got to see the younger and lesser-known players get a lot of time. Obviously one of the stars of the game was walk-on running back Cole Chiappialle. He ran for 63 yards on nine attempts and scored two touchdowns. He, as well as some of the other running backs, ran some Wildcat offense. So perhaps that was a preview of something James Franklin might want to do during the regular season.
- I was a fan of the other trick plays, too. Geno Lewis threw a touchdown to Matt Zanellato on a double reverse and De’Andre Thompkins, someone who a lot of people were eager to see because of his electric speed, had a nice run on a reverse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis and Thompkins get called upon to make those kinds of plays again in the regular season.
- Something that I wasn’t a fan of was how the rosters were set up for the game. The Blue team had all the starters and guys who are going to get the most playing time, while the White team was made up mostly of freshmen and walk-ons. Even before the game it was pretty obvious that the Blue team was going to win. But in the end, no one got seriously injured, so I won’t complain too much.
Those were just a few things that I noticed on Saturday. Just like every other Penn State fan, I’m extremely excited to see how this program progresses under James Franklin. He and his staff have been incredible on the recruiting trail so far and hopefully that success will translate into lots of wins in the future. Even though I don’t yet know what I’ll be doing after I graduate in a few weeks, I do know that I’ll be back in Happy Valley soon to watch some regular season Penn State football as an alumnus.
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