The atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium was festive and the play on the field is what we hoped to see. There were a few players that stood out and some that looked a little rusty, but overall it was a relatively uneventful day. That is a good thing for a Spring Football game. No big news is good news, as there did not seem to be any injuries during the game. Shareef Miller hit backup quarterback Billy Fessler much harder than he intended to on a sack, and the entire stadium sucked in a quick collective breath at the sight of the hit, but Fessler was no worse for the wear.
Connor McGovern started the game at center in a change that was anticipated heading into the game. True freshman Mike Miranda got the start at left-guard, Ryan Bates at left tackle, with Zach Simpson at right guard and Chasz Wright at right tackle. With Brandon Mahon and Andrew Nelson, the projected starters at guard out of the lineup, not much should be made of the personnel up front, other than to notice that the team now has ten serviceable players. Redshirt freshman Will Fries saw the field for the first time while Michael Menet was out with an injury. The pair will factor into the offensive line equation in the future, if not later this season.
Koa Farmer deflected an early Jake Zembiec pass attempt and the ball fluttered in the air before landing safely on the ground. It could have been a pick-6 had nearby members of the Blue defense been able to spot the ball.
Big Jonathan Holland caught two passes while playing with the Blue squad in the first quarter. The 6’4”, 245-pound redshirt sophomore tight end is projected to back up Mike Gesicki this season. He looked fluid while running routes and showed soft hands as well. He added a few additional catches at the end of the first half, showing his ability to run after the catch.
Juwan Johnson was the target twice on the opening drive for the Blue squad, which contained the projected starters. The rising sophomore was not able to haul in either pass, but it was a sign that the team was hoping to get him involved early. Later in the first half Trace McSorley nearly threw an interception on a ball deep down the field intended for Johnson. Ayron Monroe got his hands on the ball but was unable to make the play. Monroe is in the mix to compete for playing time at safety and he looked confident and athletic while in pursuit of the ball-carrier as well.
Late in the second quarter Johnson picked up his first reception for a first down. On the next play McSorley once again overthrew a deep ball, this time Monroe made the interception. Johnson would add a couple catches before the half, showing flashes of his potential. McSorley played the first half and finished 13 of 21 for 114 yards passing. The junior offensive leader was off on a few deep balls but otherwise had a good showing.
The first half ended with only a pair of Tyler Davis field goals on the board, the Blue team was up 6-0.
Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens took the field in the second half for the Blue team. Andre Robinson threw an interception while attempting a double-pass back to Stevens to end the first drive showcasing the tall, talented passer. On the second set of downs Stevens hit Juwan Johnson on a nice timing pattern in the flat. Two plays later he found DeAndre Thompkins for a long gain down the right sideline. In a turnaround from the first set of downs, Stevens threw to Robinson in the left flat for the first touchdown of the game. While the 6’4”, 218-pound Stevens looks fine while running pass routes, he does much better while throwing the ball.
On the next set of downs Stevens again led the Blue squad for a touchdown drive, this one a touchdown catch by Brandon Polk. Stevens looked great on the final drive of the game, nearly hitting DaeSean Hamilton in the back of the end zone with time running out. With 4 seconds remaining in the game, he found Juwan Johnson for a great catch over the middle for the final touchdown of the game.
It was a perfect showing for the team overall. Young players got a chance to show their skills, the backup quarterback looked better than the starter, and many alumni were on hand to have a great time. It has been a little less than four months since PSU played in the Rose Bowl, and it will be just over four months before the first kickoff of the 2017 season. The good news is the 100 Day Countdown begins next month.