Soak it in tomorrow, Penn State fans. After the Blue-White game it's a long journey through the vast desert of the offseason until we get another taste of Penn State football. We'll have breakdowns and analysis next week, but for now here is what your BSD staff is looking for on Saturday.
Here are the three things I'm looking at in the Blue White Game.
- Our new stable of wide receivers. Will they run sharp routes, be able to get open, and catch the ball? Seems abundantly simple, but it's a concern after losing Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler, and Derrick Williams. 2009 will bring us a different breed of wide receiver -- taller and slower. Pay special attention to Derek Moye, who appears to be the field-stretcher of the group. And as you already know, don't look Graham Zug directly in the eye.
- Safeties. Keep an eye on their angles and tackling, in addition to the personnel combinations. We know Drew Astorino will be out there. The others? A mish-mash of Andrew Dailey, Nick Sukay, and many others. The strong safety position will be up for grabs throughout the summer.
- Back-up quarterbacks. Despite fans' annual urges, the backup to Daryll Clark will not be selected solely on his performance in the Blue/White game. But it'll be fun to watch, anyway. According to most reports (not to mention JayTweet), Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome have been steadily improving in practice, and chances are that you'll see a lot of them on Saturday. I'll be absolutely shocked if Clark plays more than two or three series.
Leadership in the middle. Not under center, but, like, center. There was no Joe Thomas on the line last year, yet they were still the league's best group. I have a sneaking suspicion this was in large part due to their cohesion. And cohesion, as The Grit Theory suggests, requires leadership. With A.Q. now on his way to perhaps the fifth round, who will step up and lead the new group? Wisniewski knows the role; I'll be interested to see if there are signs he might be filling it.
Penn State guard Stefen Wisniewski
realnext Derrick Williams please stand up. The offense, good and bad, has always had an element of the predictably unexpected. MRob played the roll during the Mills Years and Williams did it for the four after that. There are good athletes on this team but I'm wondering who the offensive coaches will try to fit into the roll. Perhaps when gametime finally comes they will scrap the whole thing, but I doubt seriously that Jay & Co. are going to just toss out all those plays without giving someone a chance to make them worthwhile.
- Sunshine Valley? The weather at the B&W always seems to be either the best of times (the sun burnt game in 2007) or the worst of times (the Woodstock mudslides of 2006). Jaytweet wants the former:
Everyone bring an umbrella. It's always nice when I bring an umbrella somewhere.
- I think Brandon Beachum is going to have a big day. With Stephfon Green still rehabbing his ankle and Evan Royster being protected to avoid injury, we might see Beachum get 15-20 carries. He has seen a lot of reps this spring and program observers have had good things to say. I wouldn't be surprised if he rushes for 100 yards.
- Do we have a tight end that can catch the ball? With three new wide receivers trying to find their role in the Spread HD, don't be surprised if Penn State utilizes the tight ends more in the passing game. This is the last chance for Andrew Quarless to make a name for himself if he wants those NFL dollars. But he'll have to beat out a consistent Mickey Shuler and hungry underclassmen in Szczerba and Wedderburn. Remember Szczerba was the leading receiver in the Blue White game a year ago.
- Defensive ends. Penn State has to replace their top three defensive ends from last year. A lot of program observers are already calling Jack Crawford the next Aaron Maybin. So I'll be interested to see him in action, but I'll be particularly interested to see who starts opposite him at the other end position. Right now it appears there is no clear leader there. Eric Latimore has a history of shoulder injuries, and there were reports he suffered another stinger this month. Jerome Hayes will be back for the fall, but he's not going to play tomorrow. You have to wonder how effective he'll be after tearing ACLs in both knees the past two years. Could the coaches take one of those stud linebackers we grow on trees and move him down on the line? Don't be surprised to see Nate Stupar or Mike Mauti playing the standup defensive end position Penn State has been using the past few years.
So that's our preview. We're thinking about setting up an account on Flickr or Photobucket where everyone can upload pictures. So take a lot of pictures at the game and have them ready. We'll make an announcement when we get our act together.