Penn State Football: 2019 Blue-White Game prediction roundtable

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Beaver Stadium on November 10, 2018 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Beaver Stadium on November 10, 2018 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Penn State football will be back on the field Saturday

After a long, cold winter, Penn State football is finally back. Well, not exactly, but there will be players in helmets on the field at Beaver Stadium. This Saturday brings the unofficial start of spring in Central Pennsylvania, as it’s time for the annual Penn State Blue-White Game.

The Nittany Lions likely won’t show much, but the game is an opportunity for fans and the coaching staff alike to get an early glimpse at the 2019 Nittany Lions.

While obviously more of a practice than a game, there will be players who stand out for the Nittany Lions. There will also be interesting storylines to come out of the game, especially related to the depth chart at certain positions.

See what the VBR staff thinks will take place on the field Saturday.

Barry Leonard, Co-Site Expert

I’m not expecting much in terms of offense, as the defense is generally ahead of the offense in this game. Still, there will be some interesting things to watch.

With quarterback Tommy Stevens limited in spring practice, I don’t expect to see him in this one. That will open the door for Sean Clifford to show off his skills. He made some impressive plays last year in limited action during the regular season and has the arm strength to make big plays down the field on every throw.

Along with the quarterback position, running back and wide receiver both have some question marks heading into the new season.

While Ricky Slade will likely be the starting running back, I’m excited to see Journey Brown get a lot of touches in the Blue-White Game — he’s super fast and has an excellent playmaking ability. At receiver, I expect KJ Hamler to make some big plays in the game, as will Jahan Dotson and Justin Shorter.

On defense, I’m excited to see the progress that Micah Parsons has made after his impressive freshman campaign. I expect him to make plays all over the field Saturday.

Again, we won’t see a lot, but Saturday should give us enough to get excited for the Nittany Lions in 2019.

Collin Wieder, Co-Site Expert

This is an exciting time to follow Penn State football. A lot of unknowns, especially on offense, surround the team. This means there are plenty of new players to watch. I’m looking forward to watching how the backfield meshes during the spring game. I think the run game is going to look not only explosive but deep. Ricky Slade and Journey Brown lead a talented group of runners such as Noah Cain, Devyn Ford and CJ Holmes.

At QB, the team will likely be without current No. 1 QB Tommy Stevens due to injury, so let the battle of Sean Clifford vs. Will Levis begin. Clifford already showcased a big arm, while Levis is a fast-rising star in spring practice. I think Clifford and Levis will both show that they’re able to compete for the starting QB spot.

Penn State’s starting defense should be a fun unit to watch. All the starters return at linebacker as do many of the defensive line players. This a fast, playmaking unit that can get to the ball in a hurry. Players like Micah Parsons, Cam Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos and Robert Windsor highlight a strong defensive front.

Dylan Burd, Contributor

There’s no better feeling than hitting the spring game after over three months of no Penn State football, especially when it’s supposed to be 70+ degrees outside! That being said, this is probably one of the most interesting Blue-White games in recent memory for Penn State.

It all starts with the quarterback position, as the departure of Trace McSorley leaves an open competition between redshirt senior Tommy Stevens and redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford. As of now, Stevens appears to the favorite to win the job despite missing most of the offseason so far with an injury. It’s unknown whether or not Stevens will play Saturday, but Clifford will certain have an opportunity to impress the coaching staff. It’s also worth nothing that redshirt freshman quarterback Will Levis has reportedly played well this offseason and will certainly see a lot of playing time Saturday.

I’m also keeping my eye on the running back position. With Miles Sanders headed to the NFL, Penn State is supposedly planning on using sophomore Ricky Slade, redshirt sophomore Journey Brown, and true freshman Noah Cain in a committee. All three should see time on Saturday.

Moving to the wide receiver position, look out for Justin Shorter. Due to a knee injury, Shorter missed the majority of last season. However, as a former five-star and top ten recruit in the country, Shorter should play a big role in the offense.

In terms of the defensive side of the ball, it should be interesting to see a couple of early-enrollees for the first time. Brandon Smith is a five-star linebacker in the 2019 class ranked 18th in the country that will make his debut in front of the Beaver Stadium crowd. Furthermore, Keaton Ellis is a four-star cornerback from the 2019 class that will make his debut.

I’m also keeping an eye on redshirt freshman defensive end Jayson Oweh, who should have an expanded role this season.

The final rosters for Blue-White should be released at some point on Friday, so we’ll be able to see further into who is playing, and how much time they’ll get.

Corey Hunter, Contributor

Spring practice number 15, better known as the annual Blue/White game, is set for this Saturday under what should be a beautiful skies. While the game’s outcome doesn’t hold great significance and the primary objective is to be injury-free, it will be a chance for coaches to see how Fall position battles may play out.

I, like many others, am excited to see how the quarterback battle unfolds. Coach Franklin has named Tommy Stevens the leader, but lingering injuries have limited his spring workouts.  Sean Clifford has seen first-string reps this spring, and those who watched last season, saw an athlete who has a strong, accurate arm. Both Stevens and Clifford should have an interesting competition this fall.

Another position battle I’m intrigued by is the running back spot. The incumbent in sophomore Ricky Slade, but is he ready to be a bell-cow back? Last season he only had 45 carries. He certainly has the speed to follow in the footsteps of Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders, but will he have the durability? How will running backs coach JaJuan Seider employ Slade, Journey Brown, who has turned heads in practice, along with highly-touted incoming freshman Noah Cain? This might be the year that multiple back sets are used with regularity and it will be something to watch this weekend.

On defense, I’m excited to see the speed on the defensive line. Yetur Gross-Matos should take over the leadership role left by the departure of Shareef Miller. It’s very possible that Gross-Matos could be in the running for the 2019 Ted Hendricks Award for the nation’s best defensive end. Young player Jayson Oweh will also be fun to watch at defensive end.

Micah Parsons has been taking the lead, not only in the weight room, but also on the spring practice field. He, along with Cam Brown and Jan Johnson should form a formidable linebacking group with others like Jesse Luketa and Ellis Brooks being vital cogs in the defensive middle.

light. Related Story. Penn State Football: Guide to 2019 Blue-White Game

All-in-all this weekend will be fun to have Nittany Lion football back on the field, but it should give coaches and fans a chance to see what position battles will be shaping up come the start of Fall practice. Many new faces will be vying for playing time this Fall, and it all starts this Saturday.