Penn State Football: 2015 Blue-White Game Breakdown


Today was Penn State’s Blue-White Game. In this game the Blue team captured a victory over the White team by a score of 17-7. The Blue team featured many of the regulars for the Nittany Lions. The starting offense for the Blue team and the starting defense for the Blue team are listed below. As you will see, these starting lineups are what you would expect to be many of the starters come this fall.

There are a few things to keep in mind here however. First off, Nyeem Wartman who will obviously start at a linebacker position did not play in this game. Secondly, Adam Breneman and Chris Godwin, both of whom should play a large role on offense, did not dress either. Finally, the offensive line picture will change when grad transfer Kevin Reihner arrives on campus this summer. Odds are he will be the starting center with Angelo Mangiro sliding to a guard position.

The Game:

Apr 18, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Brandon Smith (47) tackles tight end Kyle Carter (87) after a catch during the first quarter of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Now, to talk about the game itself. The Blue offense started out strong. On their first few possessions they appeared to firing on all cylinders and took an early 10-0 lead. However, the offensive line would then begin to struggle. After being sacked a Big Ten record 44 times a year ago, Christian Hackenberg got sacked 5 times in this game. Keep in mind that the offensive line also went against one of the best defenses they will see all season today.

JUCO transfer Paris Palmer showed promise at left tackle, but he also demonstrated that there is still a lot of work he needs to get done this summer. He got beaten by rush ends way too often. Palmer did make a great play in the third quarter however when he bullied Evan Schwan around to give Hack time to throw. Luckily, there is still over four months until a real football game is played so there is plenty of time for Palmer to work things out.

Also on offense wide receiver Geno Lewis had a strong day for the Nittany Lions. This was very good to see. After a hot start last season, Lewis all but vanished from the offense over the course of the final 8 games of the season. Even though he did have a strong showing in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Blue defensive line was dominant in this game. This is not a surprise however, as the Nittany Lions should have one of the country’s best defensive lines once again this fall. Carl Nassib did a great job of solidifying himself as one of the new starters at defensive end as he had a very strong game. Torrence Brown also chipped in a sack for team Blue.

Even though they were on the White team, Curtis Cothran and Evan Schwan also had strong games at defensive end. Schwan had one sack, and Cothran two, and they each recorded multiple tackles for a loss in this game. Even as they look to replace both starters from a year ago, defensive end appears to be in good hands.

Also on the White team defense former walk-on Vonn Walker had a very good game at linebacker. He did a great job of reading a play to nearly intercept Hack in the first quarter. Furthermore, Walker was also able to pressure the quarterback on more than one occasion and found himself in on multiple tackles. Walker should be a special teams warrior for the Nittany Lions this fall.

Nick Scott was also extremely impressive for the White team. He had two very impressive runs, one of 25 yards and one 54 yards for a touchdown, and finished the game with around 90 yards rushing. Scott was a very underrated member of the 2014 recruiting class and could be a sleeper to have a big season as a backup running back for the Nittany Lions this fall.

More from Victory Bell Rings

Christian Hackenberg:

Apr 18, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass during the second quarter of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Hack had both some good and not so good moments today. He made a poor decision on an interception he threw in the third quarter. That said, his throws were very crisp and accurate for the most part. He also did a nice job of taking off to run when the opportunity presented itself. This is something he did not to last season and it hurt the Nittany Lions at times.

All in all though there was more good than bad from Hack. On a few occasions he showed off his great arm strength, including an absolutely beautiful pass to Saeed Blacknall in the third quarter Hack threw about 50 yards down the field that he dropped perfectly into the hands of Blacknall. Hackenberg did a good job with pre-snap reads and making the right call to go with a run or pass play.

Kicking Competition:
Before the start of the game the Nittany Lions held a kicking competition. Tyler Davis and Joe Julius, the two front runners to replace Sam Ficken, both hit field goals from 55 yards out. Even though it should be noted that some of the kicks from 50+ yards were low line drives that could be blocked in game situations. Julius also had four kick offs during the game, all of which were touchbacks. Replacing Sam Ficken will not be easy but the Nittany Lions have two kickers capable of doing it.

Also on Saturday there was a plethora of recruits on hand. There were recruits from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 recruiting classes on hand. Below is a list of some of these recruits. All of the recruits that were on hand are not mentioned, however the biggest targets that were on campus are listed below.

Class of 2016 Recruits on Hand (*Penn State Commit)

RB Miles Sanders*
QB Jake Zembiec*
OL Connor McGovern*
DB LaVert Hill*
Defensive athlete Khaleke Hudson
LB Shaka Toney
TE Nasier Upshur
DB Demetric Vance
WR Steven Smothers
K Quinn Nordin
JUCO DT Tyrell Chavis

Class of 2017 Recruits on Hand

OL CJ Thorpe
OL Robert Hainsey
DL Donovan Jeter
LB David Adams
DT Dalyn Wade-Perry

Class of 2018 Recruits on Hand

DL Micah Parson
RB Ricky Slade
RB Jaelen Gill

Ultimately, there is good and bad to take from this Blue-White Game. The defense, both Blue and White, played very well. Christian Hackenberg looked good and Nick Scott looks like a player ready to contribute on offense. However, the offensive line still has a lot of work to do.