Penn State Blue-White Game 2013

Penn State's Beaver Stadium during the Blue-White Game on Saturday.This past Saturday Penn State football held its annual spring “game”. Frankly it is little more than a glorified intrasquad scrimmage with an unusual scoring system that frankly favors the Blue aka the defense. Due to depth concerns (PSU has only about 65 players on scholarship even though they are permitted up to 76 for this coming season) many starters played little or not at all. And unfortunately one starter, running back Zach Zwinak, injured his left wrist on one of the 1st plays (Fortunately the injury does not appear serious.).

The one thing I took from  Blue-White 2013 is that if PSU gets even adequate quarterback play the offense is going to be just fine. Both Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson were able to move the ball when playing behind the first string offensive line. as recently as 2 years ago that unit was an ongoing weakness for the Nits. (My favorite hashtag for the 1st none games of the 2011 season was #fireAndersonandKenney. Of course I now dislike Dick Anderson infinitely more than I did then thanks to his unwavering support of Pennsylvania’s most famous pervert.). Unlike his predecessors Mac McWhorter actually knows how to coach an offensive line which is not surprising given his success at several major programs including Texas (which won the National Championship in 2005 while he was there.).

PSU also has up to 4 potential NFL tight ends on the roster,. Only one of these players (Jesse James) saw any playing time Saturday due to injury. All of last year’s wide outs are back including Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year Allen Robinson who was woefully underutilized by the Old Regime. However, Coach Bob O’Brien knows an offensive stud when he sees one and named Robinson a starter last year around the same time he decided on Matt McGloin as the quarterback. The break out star of Saturday’s game was Akeel Lynch who could be the latest running back to shine wearing number 22 at PSU. Yes no numbers are retired at Penn State, not even John Cappelletti’s which is why all time leading rusher Evan Royster was able to also wear 22.). Lynch and perhaps Bill Belton could provide a change up to Zwinak’s inside power running this coming season.

The defense is a work in progress. Apparently Adrian Amos is being moved to safety which would leave the Lions a bit thin at cornerback. I have to assume that new defensive coordinator John Butler knows what he is doing though. The starting linebackers look fine but depth is an issue there. That will be a recurring them at various positions the next few seasons. As for the defensive line it is young but I have confidence in Larry Johnson, Sr. who along with Ron Vanderlinden was kept from the old staff. There are two reasons why they remained at PSU-both can coach their position and are also great recruiters.

I am optimistic about this coming season. I do not expect an 0-2 start again; in fact, I would be surprised if PSU doesn’t go 4-0 to start the year. The Big Ten schedule is manageable although 4 opponents (Michigan and Nebraska at home Ohio State and Wisconsin on the road) do have an overall talent advantage on PSU. Another 8-4 season sounds about right at this point.

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Chuck Reynolds

Chuck has followed PSU football and Philly sports since coming to Philly for law school in the late summer of 1981. In fact he went to his 1st live Philly sports event-a Phillies game at the Vet against Cincinnati-before attending any law school classes. Chuck currently practices civil trial law in New Jersey which unfortunately results in a lot of contact with New York sports fans. You can follow Chuck on Twitter @SportsChatChuck, a handle invented by his wife Mary Kay, a PSU alum and diehard Phillies fan.