Winter has broken for spring in Happy Valley, folks. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. Kids are partaking in drinking outside at frats. And, most importantly, football is back. Tomorrow, Penn State will suit for its annual Blue-White game, and with a projected Top 10 squad expected this coming season, there’s certainly buzz abound in State College this time of year.
What can we expect to see tomorrow, and what are we excited to learn tomorrow? Let’s discuss.
For me, tomorrow is all about my savior Drew Allar. While he hasn’t been named the starter yet, I can safely proclaim that this is the beginning of the Allar Era at Penn State. For my emotional stability, I need him to go off tomorrow for something like 11-of-15 for 168 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 turnovers. I want him to see him dance through the pocket like a pretty ballerina, and I want him to carve up the defense like a 20-year surgeon.
If we get a good Drew performance on Saturday afternoon, all-freaking-aboard the hype train for this team. We, as Penn State fans, will be insufferable the next four months.
And if he comes out and struggles? Well, the Blue-White game doesn’t *actually* mean anything. It’s a glorified practice, pal. Why would I get upset about that?
PASS CATCHERS WHERE YOU AT
Beyond the quarterback happenings, the Nittany Lions are in the midst of replacing Parker Washington and Mitchell Tinsley, their top two wide receivers from last season. For a team with championship aspirations, it’s a major question for the team. Penn State did bring in reinforcements via the transfer portal in Kent State’s Dante Cephas and Florida State’s Malik McClain, but just McClain was on campus this spring for practice. Cephas remained at Kent State finishing up his degree.
On the positive side of things, it sounds like KeAndre Lambert-Smith has improved his consistency this spring, while Harrison “Tre” Wallace has taken a step forward. Both guys are immensely talented, so it’s definitely a good sign that things are starting to click for both.
The downside of that news though is that it sounds like everyone else in the wide receiver room hasn’t made the progression James Franklin had been hoping for. He specifically stated that it’s Lambert-Smith and Wallace and then everyone else, which for all my years following Franklin, is just as much an indictment on the rest of the position group as it is praise for those two.
Tomorrow, we’ll get to see first-hand just how valid the concerns are.
NEW TOY AT LINEBACKER
When Tony Rojas enrolled at Penn State, the major question mark on him was if he’d be able to add enough mass to play as a true freshman. For all the athleticism and instincts he possesses, Rojas was coming into the program weighing just 195 pounds — a far ways away from being physically big enough to play right away.
Fast-forward three months and buddy, do I have good news for you:
Franklin says true freshman Tony Rojas has put on 29 pounds of “good weight,” quipping that the linebacker is always eating.— Onward Sports (@OnwardStSports) April 4, 2023
29 pounds! TWENTY! NINE! POUNDS! Sheesh. If the 195 was an accurate listing for Rojas when he enrolled, he’s now pushing 225-230 pounds, which is well in line with where he needs to be to be able to play this fall.
I am curious to see how he moves with that added weight though. He was unbelievably explosive and fast in high school, so while it’s to be expected that some of the athleticism will be zapped with an extra 30 pounds, I’m hopeful that he still pops in the way that Abdul Carter did last season.