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Penn State Blue-White Game: Three Takeaways from Spring Finale

There was football in April and it was beautiful. Now it’s gone and I am sad.

NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Quality Quarterback Play Throughout

Projected starter Tommy Stevens didn’t see any playing time and that wasn’t a surprise. The redshirt senior has been dealing with a foot issue since last preseason and is still in the middle of the healing process. That being said, while he was limited in spring practice it allowed the other quarterbacks on the roster to get some much needed reps. The workload the quarterbacks had this spring showed itself on Saturday with each looking pretty good.

Following the game, James Franklin stated that they’ll have a true quarterback competition entering fall camp and that’s a testament to the work all the quarterbacks have put in this off season.

Sean Clifford (BLUE): The No.1 challenger for the starting job looked pretty good during the Blue-White game completing 11-of-19 passing attempts for 118-yards and one touchdown. He also gained 33-yards on the ground over six carries.

Will Levis (BLUE): The likely third string quarterback looked solid on Saturday, completing 4-of-7 passing attempts for 86-yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass was a beautiful one to Dan Chisena (more later!). Levis has a lot of potential and it should be exciting to see how he develops going forward.

Taquan Roberson (WHITE): The true freshman out of New Jersey had his ups and downs during his time on the field, ultimately completing 3-of-9 passing attempts for 19-yards. He did pick up 21-yards on seven carries but was also sacked four times by the Blue defense.

Michael Johnson (WHITE): The second true freshman quarterback to appear in the game was Oregon native Michael Johnson Jr. He completed all four of his passing attempts for 36-yards.

Overall, the quarterbacks played to expectations. Clifford and Levis looked like quarterbacks with a year or more experience in the program while you can tell Roberson and Johnson are still true freshman and have more development to go. Clifford and Levis definitely separated themselves from the two freshman but the gap between Clifford and Levis is pretty noticeable as well.

Noah Cain is going to be an issue (for opposing defenses):

Man, Noah Cain did not look like a freshman out here on Saturday for the Nittany Lions. He’s not the polished running back and he won’t pull Saquon Barkley like moves on his runs but he is not afraid to run right through the trenches. Without a doubt Cain was the player of the game as he played on both sides picking up 45-yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a nice, eight-yard pass from Sean Clifford. For Cain, it’s a great start to his time in Happy Valley and it will be interesting to see if he can take it to another level come this fall. Either way, he’ll be giving Ricky Slade and Journey Brown a “run for their money” for sure.

A Few Standout Stars:

For our final takeaway of the day, we’ll highlight a few players who had notable performances on Saturday.

Dan Chisena (BLUE): Chisena’s highlight of the afternoon was a 59-yard touchdown pass from Will Levis. The walk-on and former track athlete was then awarded a scholarship by head coach James Franklin. He’s the third walk-on in the last two weeks to be awarded a scholarship. A speedy wide out, it will be interesting to see if he sees time on the field this fall outside of special teams. He finished the afternoon with a team-high 75 receiving yards.

Brandon Smith (WHITE): The five-star linebacker out of Virginia looked the part and had himself a quality day. He had six tackles, leading the White team and tied for the most for the game with Ellis Brooks. He also had a nice pass breakup across the middle. Overall, Smith’s transition to college ball seems to be going smooth so far. Obviously, the speed of the game will be higher come the fall but so far, so good for the former five-star recruit.

Nick Bowers (BLUE): Expected to be the No.2 tight end this fall, Bowers looked pretty good during his time on the field on Saturday. The redshirt senior had two receptions for 54-yards and showed off is speed and athleticism in the process. Bowers has a chance to be a huge weapon for the Nittany Lions this fall if he can stay healthy.