It’s always tricky to read between the lines at the Blue-White game. On one hand, it’s just a scrimmage. But, on the other, it still acts as the 15th practice of the spring — and there’s plenty to be gleaned from an entire month of training.
So we decided to poll our writers and ask them what their main takeaways were after following Penn State this spring and watching the annual scrimmage on Saturday. Here’s what they had to say:
Josh Moyer: DE Shareef Miller is for real — and could be poised for a breakout season
I know, I know. Miller put came away with two sacks and three tackles-for-loss Saturday, but you can never put that much stock into performances at the Blue-White game. Well, don’t worry, because I’m not. The redshirt sophomore played in all 14 games last season and showed flashes then. This offseason, even before the spring scrimmage, teammates started point to how he had transformed himself. Said DL Curtis Cothran, about two weeks ago: “The sky is the limit with Shareef. ... He’s definitely gotten stronger in the offseason.” Miller thinks he’ll be a starter come September and, even if he’s not penciled in at a starting spot yet, it sure looks as if he’s well on his way. I like what we’ve seen of him this spring, and Miller’s mix of speed and strength could make him a formidable pass-rusher.
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John McGonigal: Jarvis Miller can factor in at linebacker
I’ll go with Jarvis Miller. The redshirt sophomore linebacker was moved from safety after the Rose Bowl — and the Connecticut native showed his speed at his new position. Miller was all over the field for the White squad, recording seven tackles, one sack and a quarterback hurry. His seven stops tied Cam Brown for a game-high, and the sack and hurry came on the same series. Right now, Miller isn’t looking at first-team reps; James Franklin said postgame that four guys — Jason Cabinda, Manny Bowen, Koa Farmer and Brandon Smith — are considered starters, with Brown working his way into the situation. But Franklin also mentioned Miller as a player “that will continue to grow.” Miller certainly showed his quickness getting around the first- and second-team offensive linemen on Saturday, a weapon at Brent Pry’s disposal in 2017.
Ryne Gery: Penn State has solid backup quarterback in Tommy Stevens
Stevens showed flashes of his athleticism when he got on the field last season, averaging 9.4 yards per carry and rushing for two touchdowns. He only threw three passes in his limited action in 2016, but he got to show off his arm during Saturday’s Blue-White game. And it’s pretty safe to say he exceeded expectations. Stevens completed 17 of 24 passes for 216 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. After the game, Franklin expressed his excitement in the development of the quarterback, who looks like a more-than-reliable backup to Trace McSorley.
Nate Cobler: The receiving corps is going to be fine without Chris Godwin
Last season, Godwin led the Nittany Lions in receptions for half of their games. He also came up just 18 yards short of 1,000 with Mike Gesicki finishing second on the team with 679 receiving yards. Well, if the Blue-White game is any indication of what the season will be, Penn State isn’t going to have to rely on just one target. There were a total of 34 passes completed on Saturday, and 10 players had at least one catch. The Nittany Lions’ depth and experience can only help them this season, so there shouldn’t be much concern about this group having success — even without a star like Godwin.