Quarterbacks: There was nothing dynamic here, mostly because there was nothing dynamic from a play-calling perspective. Sean Clifford threw for 118 yards and a late score, and Will Levis had the long TD throw to Dan Chisena that became the highlight of the game. In all, the six QBs who played combined for 258 yards and a couple scores. Tommy Stevens will be a welcomed competitor for the starting job in the fall.
Running backs: Again, it’s difficult to get too excited or too down when the play-calling was so intentionally bland. But Ricky Slade and Journey Brown — a combined 20 yards on seven carries — got little going against the third- and fourth-team defenses. Noah Cain, with 45 yards on 12 carries and a decent showing in the pass game, may have played himself into the battle for the starting job.
Receivers: The tight ends had a really nice day, even with Pat Freiermuth playing sparingly. Freshman Brenton Strange had three catches, and Nick Bowers had two catches for 54 yards. There wasn’t much there for the starting receivers, though. Chisena, who netted a full scholarship after a touchdown catch, and walk-on Henry Fessler were the most impressive of the wideouts.
Offensive line: The first-team offensive line struggled to open up holes for the starting running backs against what is essentially the Penn State scout team. Head coach James Franklin said he expected a better performance. Still, Blue quarterbacks were sacked just once. The backups had some strong moments and looked better in the running game against the first- and second-team defenders. But they allowed six sacks.
Defensive line: Much was made of the speed on defense, and even the big guys up front showed that off. Ends Adisa Isaac and Jayson Oweh both had sacks. Oweh was pretty much unblockable. Linemen accounted for eight of the 11 tackles for loss in the game, and pretty much every group from the starters to the scouts got in on the action. Most of the reason why the offensive numbers were down.
Linebackers: Ellis Brooks and Jesse Luketa did the yeoman’s work, combining for 11 stops for the Blue team. But two true freshmen grabbed eyes as well. Brandon Smith led the White team with six tackles, and Lance Dixon had a pair of tackles for loss and a sack. This looks like a much deeper group than Penn State has had in recent years, potentially.
Secondary: Nothing flashy, but this group played well as a whole. That goes especially for the White starters at cornerback, D.J. Brown and Keaton Ellis, who made life difficult for Clifford and the receivers. True freshman safety Tyler Rudolph looked like he can bring an element of speed and toughness to the position, and even walk-on freshman Makai Self starred, breaking up a touchdown pass in the end zone among his two PBUs.
Special teams: There are no kick returns in the spring game, so nothing to see there. Kickers Jake Pinegar, Rafael Checa and Justin Tobin were 5 for 5 kicking touchbacks, and Pinegar kicked a 35-yard field goal, albeit under no pressure whatsoever from the defense.
Coaching: Nobody got hurt. They were able to work the Dan Chisena moment into the game. By all accounts, Penn State had a strong spring practice.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!