We didn’t learn much from the Blue White Game that we didn’t already know. Penn State basically has a quarterback problem. There was nothing in the game today that suggests that we will have an offense that is ready to play Alabama at Tuscaloosa on September 11. Instead, the game merely highlighted the work that will need to be done to get Penn State’s offense into shape.
There’s clearly at least a two-way race, possibly even a three-way race, for quarterback. Joe Paterno and the rest of the coaching staff will have a difficult decision to make, and the stakes are higher than usual. It’s not just Alabama that looms early in the season. It’s also Iowa – our Big Ten opener – at Iowa City on October 2. Our non-conference schedule in September – Youngstown State, Kent State, and Temple – does not look like the kind of schedule that will help the team improve dramatically for these two big tests.
The best performance at quarterback was Paul Jones, a freshman who started at Penn State in January. However, as good as he looked with his two touchdown passes, he wasn’t playing against Penn State’s first-string defense. So it’s hard to evaluate his success. And we also know that Joe Paterno is not known for playing true freshmen, even if they start a little early at college. My guess is that Paul Jones will be the most popular quarterback at Penn State in the fall. He will be the one that everyone will call for from the stands when the starting quarterback – Newsome or McGloin - stumbles.
McGloin had more playing time than Newsome. He made some very accurate passes. But some of his decisions were awful. Newsome was also a disappointment. Neither McGloin nor Newsome completed 50% of their passes, although some of those incompletions were perfectly thrown balls dropped by receivers. It was also hard to evaluate Newsome’s versatility as a running threat because he was wearing a red shirt and couldn’t run. Newsome did demonstrate better scrambling ability than McGloin. He’s faster out of the pocket.
This was a game where future potential was highlighted. Evan Royster, our star running back, stood on the sidelines, a wise decision to prevent unnecessary injury. We know what he can do. So we had a chance to see new running talent such as Hykeem Brodie, Curtis Dukes, and Silas Reed show what they can do. The running game seems very solid. Justin Brown, Shawney Kersey and Garry Gilliam also had some good moments as receivers.
Basically the offense needs a solid offensive line and a decent quarterback. And wide receivers who don’t drop balls thrown right into their hands. There have been numerous offensive line changes during the spring. The key to the quarterback’s ability to perform will be how well the 5 men up front gel and protect the quarterback.
The defense seemed very solid, with Nate Stupar leading with 6 tackles. It appears that the defense will be our only hope at the beginning of the season as the offense finds its rhythm. It’s hard to comment on the special teams play. But we know that Jeremy Boone will be difficult to replace.
So basically we learned that there is a lot of potential on this team that bodes well for the future. In terms of this season, we won’t learn much until the opener at Youngstown State and our trip to Alabama. With perhaps the toughest away game schedule in the country – playing Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State on the road – my guess is we could lose some or all of these. We might be looking at a 9-3 regular season, or 8-4. It’s hard to say.
But then, hope springs eternal this time of year. You never know what will happen until you play each game. Penn State is capable of surprising us, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Joe Paterno was holding back a bit on what the team capabilities truly are. Penn State needs a productive pre-season of fall practice with no injuries to give themselves a chance for a great year.
We stayed home yesterday. So we watched the scrimmage on TV and enjoyed the commentary as the game was played. We did consider CATA regularly scheduled buses that would drop us off and pick us up a few blocks from the stadium, but decided against trying it. We had other priorities: Terry's 75th birthday, a dinner reservation to celebrate, and a busy weekend for me as I prepare for the final week of classes.
But kudos to Penn State for making the Blue-White weekend an overall community festival, with lots of activities attractive to families. An important way to give back to the community, this free event will continue to attract those who are priced out of the regular season and just want to experience the thrill of Beaver Stadium and Penn State football.