Porta Potties are out.
The cows have been moved to another field.
That means one thing: Blue White weekend is upon us and football is back in Happy Valley.
Penn State Blue-White Game; Football is Back in Happy Valley
Football is back in Happy Valley in the form of the Penn State Football spring game. The game known as the Blue White game, is the event of the spring in Central Pennsylvania. It is the student’s last chance to have fun before finals start. It is the marker that spring is upon us, and it means that Penn State football is back in Happy Valley, even if just for one day.
Penn State football lost some big names to the NFL Draft after the 2017 season, most notably running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley was the lead back at Penn State for two and a half seasons, when he broke out halfway through his freshman season. Another big name, and big man, Penn State lost to the NFL is tight end Mike Gesicki. He broke out in the 2016 season and over the last two seasons he was responsible for 14 touchdowns and over 1,000 receiving yards. The linebacker position is also in question as to who will replace team captain Jason Cabinda in the fall. Finally, Penn State will need a new kicker as Tyler Davis has graduated.
The four positions above will be on display at the Blue White game on Saturday at 3:00 pm ET. The unique opportunity on Saturday, is not just watching Penn State Football in the spring, but the player autograph session starting from 12:15 – 1:05 pm ET at Gates A, B, C, E, F. This gives fans the ability to interact with their favorite players and meet the new early-enrollee freshman student-athletes.
Four Positions to watch on Saturday:
Penn State head coach, James Franklin, stated at his weekly press conference that the Nittany Lions look to junior Miles Sanders to take the majority of the snaps this fall. Sanders had two rushing touchdowns in the 2017 season with a total of 191 rushing yards. Franklin also stated in his weekly press conference that Sanders has “…been really good in his role. He’s been patient, but he’s been hungry to get on the field at times, too. He’s handled things the right way and grown dramatically.” Furthermore, defensive end Ryan Buchholz stated, Miles will “…beat you to the spot, he’ll beat you to the edge. It’s definitely his speed.”
Sanders has learned and grown behind the possible first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley, for the last two seasons. Barkley is the prototype running back for a young player to learn from. If Sanders can keep the ball off the ground, three fumbles in the 2017 season, he has the potential to have a big season.
Sanders will not be alone next to quarterback Trace McSorley. Senior Mark Allen will be one of the back-ups to Sanders going into the 2018 season. While Sanders wows with his speed, Allen is a blocking back that has found his niche as a third down back throughout his time at Penn State. Buchholz also had praise for the senior Allen in the weekly press conference, stating that he is very impressed with his pass-catching ability out of the backfield and that he thinks, “…he learned a lot of Saquon Barkley.”
Miles Sanders: Blue Team
Mark Allen: Blue Team
With the loss of Gesicki to the NFL, it has been a question mark as to who will step up in the 2018 season. Redshirt junior, Jonathan Holland, is the tight end with the most experience and the likely successor to Gesicki. Holland is six foot four, 248 pounds. He saw limited snaps behind Gesicki in the 2017 season, with three receptions for 16 yards.
Another possibility for the Nittany Lions, barring any further injuries, is Nick Bowers. Bowers had one reception for 15 yards in the win against Nebraska last season. His career thus far at Penn State has been marred with injury, but if he can stay healthy the junior could be a factor in the passing game.
Finally, fans will possibly get a look at true freshman, early-enrollee, Zack Kuntz on Saturday. Kuntz is an early-enrollee that picked Penn State over Alabama and Ohio State, among others. It is unclear if Kuntz will redshirt his freshman year or make an immediate impact.
The tight end position is still a question mark for the Nittany Lions, but fans should receive a better look at the tight end position during the Blue White game this Saturday.
Jonathan Holland: Blue Team
Nick Bowers: Blue Team
Zack Kuntz: White Team
Jason Cabinda is gone; this leaves fans wondering who will replace the mad man in the middle. Even though Coach Franklin stated in his weekly press conference that the middle linebacker position is still unknown, all eyes are true freshman Micah Parsons. Fans will definitely get their first look at him in blue and white on Saturday. Parsons’ dad rented a bus to bring family and friends to the Blue White game on Saturday. In addition to Parsons, the linebacker corp. is returning several players in junior Cam Brown, senior Koa Farmer, and senior Jarvis Miller. The three returning starters as a whole accounted for 87 tackles in the 2017 season, Farmer accounting for 47 of those tackles.
Micah Parsons: Blue Team
Cam Brown: Blue Team
Koa Farmer: Blue Team
Jarvis Miller: Blue Team
A spot for fans to keep an eye on this Saturday is the kicking position. Penn State kicker Tyler Davis graduated after the 2017 season. The only two kickers listed on the roster for the Blue White Game on Satruday is standout punter Blake Gillikin and redshirt freshman Carson Landis.
Gillikin is know to Penn State fans for his ability to trap teams deep on their own side of the field, but he could be taking on both roles in the 2018 season. Gillikin averages 43-yards per punt over his first two season as a Nittany Lion. Landis has not taken a kick for Penn State, as he is at freshman eligibility, but he was selected first-team all state as a senior in high school and was selected to the Big 33 game. Landis has all the tools for a bright future at Penn State and fans will get their first look at him at the Blue White Game on Saturday.
Blake Gillikin: Blue Team
Carson Landis: White Team
Football is back in Happy Valley for the day at the Blue White Game this Saturday. Fans will get the opportunity to watch as some position questions may be answered. This will also be the first look at early-enrollees, Micah Parsons, Zack Kuntz, Isaiah Humphries, Jesse Luketa, and Nick Tarburton. Even though Franklin stated that game plans for both teams are “fairly vanilla”, fans should still get an idea of how spring practice is going.