First off let's get a few non-game related issues out of the way. I watched the game, or at least tried to, on the video feed at GoPSUSports.com. Let me tell you it sucked. For the first quarter of the game there was no audio associated with the game. Anyone listening was forced to hear the same four commercials over and over. So I muted it and turned on the radio feed, which was lagging the video by about seven seconds. Around the second quarter the audio associated with the video was restored so I turned that back on, but then the video started fritzing out (Can I say that, Brian?). I missed large chunks of the game due to the poor quality of the feed. And the parts I did see were often broken up and poorly done. Overall it was a disappointment and had I put money on it I would be asking for it back today.
Listen up, Guido D'Elia. This game has to be on television next year. I don't care what it takes. I see Oklahoma playing their spring game on ESPN. Why can't we do that? Don't let them tell you there's not enough interest. The record 71,000 in attendance yesterday say otherwise.
Secondly, there was a really great moment in Joe Paterno's pregame press conference. He came in carrying a Virginia Tech hat and went on to explain how the family and girlfriend of Jeremy Herbstritt, the PSU alumni grad student who was killed in the attack, presented him with Jeremy's hat moments before the presser. A visibly emotional Paterno said, "It's a better world than we think it is." Throughout the stadium fans wore maroon and orange in a show of support for the people of Virginia Tech. It was a very well done tribute worthy of making all Penn Staters proud.
Thirdly, and after this we'll get into football, Joe Paterno needs to retire right now. He needs to retire so he can get started on his announcing career. I was laughing out loud at his comments. At one point Derrick Williams juked a linebacker out of his shoes and Paterno yelled, "Who's playing corner over there?" Reserve tackle Joe Toriello was having a rough day giving up two or three sacks. Paterno said, "That right tackle is having a terrible day. I won't say his name though because he's Italian." But the best part of listening to JoePa was hearing him hack and cough up gobs of mucus every five minutes. Simply delightful.
Now, on to some football. The White team won 30-6 ending what I believe is a 200 year losing streak. Last week I said we're in big trouble if the Blue didn't win big. That's not exactly true. Players were shuffled into the game almost constantly. The first team offense was split up among the two squads. The skill positions played on the Blue while the starting offensive line played on the White. I was so busy trying to figure out who was on the field offensively I paid little attention to the defense. Here are some individual player observations I made.
The star of the day was sophomore wide receiver Chris Bell. Rumors have been flying about him tearing it up all spring and he did not disappoint yesterday with four catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Due to the crappy video I missed his first touchdown, but I saw the second one where he made what looked like a one handed catch in stride 30 yards down field and outran the safety to the endzone. My only complaint is there were times he would come out of his break and give up on the route when he figured he wasn't open only to turn around and see the ball coming his way. With his size, quarterbacks are going to throw him the ball sometimes even when he has a man on him figuring he's going to outphysical (Shout out, JB!) his way to the ball. He has to figure that out. I'm confident he will, and I'm confident he's going to be a great weapon in the passing game this year.
The starting offensive line, which played on the White squad, looked pretty good. They had a tough time opening up holes between the tackles, but they were able to nicely seal some outside runs which is something we couldn't do last year. Overall the White squad ran 16 times for 70 yards. Not great, but better than the 44 yards both teams combined for last year. They also did a good job of protecting the quarterback. They didn't give up any sacks, but then the defense wasn't allowed to blitz. The White quarterbacks (Cianciolo, Clark, and Devlin) went a combined 16-19 for 255 yards and 3 TD with the starting offensive line against the starting defense. The Blue quarterbacks went 17-for-31 for 185 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks allowed against the backups. After yesterday I'm feeling alright about the O-Line.
Austin Scott looked just ok, but he wasn't playing behind the starting offensive line. When they pitched him the ball outside he showed off the explosive speed we lacked with Tony Hunt last year. But when asked to run between the tackles it looked like the same old Austin Scott to me. Lack of patience and too much dancing in the hole.
Evan Royster I thought looked pretty good, although he looked a bit undersized to me. He was a little slow getting it going, but he showed some great patience in letting the blocks develop and he showed great speed when he got into the open field. He finished the day with 45 yards on 9 carries, although he had the benefit of running behind the starting offensive line.
Anthony Morelli was meh. He forced some throws he probably shouldn't have and even had one picked off. He did ok going 11-for-18 and 104 yards.
Derrick Williams looked like the same guy we saw in 2006 which is not good. He was only getting the ball on short out patterns, bubble screens, and end arounds. He looked fantastic in open space and showed great play making ability, but that was only on the end arounds. He really struggles to get yards after the catch. I still don't think the coaches are using him correctly.
Jordan Norwood looked fantastic. The rumors from practice said he's a step quicker and he looked like it yesterday. Maybe it was playing basketball this year that helped him. He had five catches for 54 yards. He also ran the ball three time for an impressive 51 yards, most of it coming on a 31 yard end around.
Brett Brackett looks like he has tremendous potential. He made some great catches and looks like a really physical player. It seems to me he plays a bit out of control though. He's so tall and lanky it looks like his arms and legs are flying all over the place. He's going to be a good weapon inside the redzone when the polish him a bit.
Kevin Kelly hit both of his field goals although they were both less that 35 yards. On his first attempt Paterno was really pulling for him in the booth saying, "He really needs to hit one of these," suggesting Kelly is struggling with confidence. Paterno's lack of faith did not give me a good feeling. Freshman Jeremy Boone looked ok in punting the ball. He nailed one kick 55 yards showing some great distance and hang time, but I thought his release time was a bit slow. It seemed to me he was taking an extra step in winding up for his kick. I'm a bit concerned over that, but then I didn't have a stopwatch. Maybe I'm just not tuned in to football speed yet.
The defensive tackles did a great job of clogging the middle. Royster and Scott both had trouble getting yards between the tackles. Odrick blew up a few plays by getting great penetration.
The linebackers looked fantastic as usual. Bowman, Sales, and Hayes all looked great. I'm comfortable with any one of these guys replacing Poz. Which ever one wins will provide an upgrade in speed.
The offenses in general didn't look great. Timing was off here and there, but you have to expect that in the spring with different players shuffling in and out on every play. I was glad to see some outside runs working with success. I was also glad to see some post and slant patterns working as well. Hopefully this is a sign of the coaches opening up the play book a little more this year.
The defenses looked pretty good outside of the occassional freshman or walk on missing a tackle or blowing a coverage. Due to a ban on blitzing we'll have to wait until the fall to see the zone blitzing schemes that Tom Bradly picked up on his visit to LSU.
Please react to this and leave your observations in the comments.