It had been a long five months without football, and now that the Blue-White Game has come and gone, it'll be a long four-and-a-half months more. For as much of a facsimile of a real game that Saturday provided, it was also a reminder that it'll be a real long time until we're back in Beaver Stadium. And while the offseason is long (and full of terrors), the glimpse of seeing the 2013 Lions (or, at least, most of them) helped us get a sense on what this team is going to look like in the fall. Sure, we have had our Aric Heffelfingers in the past, and plenty of studs to-be did so without first blowing up before our eyes on the last weekend in April. But Saturday's game answered some of our questions, at least for now. Yesterday, it answered a question about who impressed us the most. Today, it answers this question:
What still worries you the most about next year's team?
Devon: I'm still worried about the kicking game. Sam Ficken certainly didn't look like someone with a year under his belt and the confidence of finishing the previous season on a high note. He shanked an extra point, and pulled a 37-year field goal, then blamed his misses on Bill O'Brien trying to get reps for a new holder. He doesn't need to be perfect, but becoming a reliable option would be huge for a Penn State team breaking in a new quarterback. But even if that's not possible, Sam: Please don't get a half-aborted sex change, escape a mental hospital, become chief of the State College police, and devise a plan to kidnap the guy in the Lion suit.
Cari: Depth, overall. There are a few positions I think we'll be solid at (surprisingly, defensive back being one of them; but also, wide outs and tight ends) but the depth on the line, with the linebackers and quarterbacks is a bit worrisome to me. Brad Bars looks to provide more depth at LB (along with the injured Ben Kline), but beyond the starters the defensive line looked pretty average to me. And we'll have three scholarship QBs in the fall--with one potentially redshirting. If the injury gods come calling, I'm not sure that will be good enough.
Nick: The edge of the defense, I don't know if it was the gameplan or mental errors/over pursuit but the offense was able to beat the defense to the edge for some big gains an alarming number of times. I really want to catch the replay and see if I can pinpoint where the breakdowns occurred.
Jared: Linebackers. Perhaps my perception is off after watching a long line of all-time greats suit up for LBU over the years. Perhaps it was the nearly complete absence of Penn State's two experienced linebackers. Perhaps it was the vanilla game plan. Either way, the linebackers looked slow to the ball and completely lacked the aggression that makes a formidable Big Ten linebacker. Nyeem Wartman showed flashes and will be a very good linebacker in time. Otherwise, Ron Vanderlinden has his work cut out for him between now and August 31.
Adam: Everything. And nothing. It's hard to say. It's cliche to say that the Blue/White Game means nothing, but really, it means nothing. Last spring, the quarterbacks looked very mediocre. In the fall, Matt McGloin set all sorts of school records. Last spring, we thought Bill Belton would be our play making running back. In the fall, Zach Zwinak lowered his shoulder for and carried six tacklers to 1000 yards. The truth is, we have no idea what we saw on Saturday. No idea if the guys can handle more complicated play calling, no idea how the quarterbacks will handle getting hit by defenders, no idea how defenders will react to live game situations. All of my questions went unanswered, but to be fair, there was no way that I was going to get them answered on Saturday anyway. I'm just happy that most of the team stayed healthy and that they're beginning to get a feel for each other before summer practice rolls around.
Dan: I'm still worried about linebacker depth. Carson, Hull and Wartman looked good, but we still don't know who will be behind them. I wonder if it is possible to stand Bars up and let him play a bit of linebacker this year. I thought that Ficken would be solid this year and I was hoping to see a lot in the B-W Game to make me feel good about that prediction. A field goal miss (albeit kicking into a strong wind) and an extra point miss did nothing to make me feel good.
bscaff: Our offensive tackle situation, and linebacker situation...not so hot right now. Adam Gress just doesn't get off the ball with enough consistency. When he doesn't, bad things happen, because foot speed and agility are his (other) weaknesses. At linebacker? Someone named Deron Thompson ran for -4 yards against the first team LB's (and got lit up on two screen passes), but churned out 6,257 yards against the second team LBs. I think that's telling. About the LBs, that is. We only seem to have three of them (hopefully four, since Kline sat out).
Bill: Take everything that bscaff said about our linebackers and put it in here. Watching Deron Thompson shred them was petrifying, but this was also the first time Akeel Lynch played against them and he too shredded them. Hell, Dom Salamone did well against them. Dom Salamone! His parents don't even know who he is! I have faith that Vandy will get them ready for the season, but this isn't the time for being rational, it's time to completely overreact to a spring game.