Blue Bests White in the Penn State Spring Game
The weather was perfect on Saturday for the estimated 71,000 fans to catch the first glimpse of the 2018 Penn State Football squad. The early enrollee freshmen wowed the crowd as Blue beat White 21-10 in the Penn State Spring Game.
Keegan-Michael Key reprised his role as Head Coach James Franklin on Saturday. The actor, comedian, and proud Penn State alum walked the sidelines on Saturday. Key gave interviews for Coach Franklin during the Penn State Spring Game. He even posed for a family picture with the Franklins. Coach Franklin joked in a post game interview that the picture would be the family’s Christmas card this year.
Celebrity aside, the young Nittany Lions had a solid debut in blue and white with injuries keeping a few veterans of the game.
Takeaways from Saturday
1. Early enrollees Mac Hippenhammer and Micah Parsons did not disappoint
Wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer is a duel sport athlete at Penn State, playing both football and baseball for the Nittany Lions. He took a day out of the baseball season to showcase his talents on the football field during the Penn State Spring Game on Saturday. On the opening drive Hippenhammer caught a five-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Trace McSorley for the first score of the game. Hippenhammer went on to haul in all four passes thrown his way for 43 yards. He finished the day with a beautiful 29-yard touchdown grab from sophomore Sean Clifford on the last play of the game. Overall, Hippenhammer was responsible for 12 of the Blue team’s 21 points. With the loss of several wide receivers to graduation, look for Hippenhammer to make an impact in the Fall.
Early enrollee Micah Parsons had a great day at linebacker for the Blue team. With a bus-load of his friends and family in Beaver Stadium, Parsons notched a game-high eight tackles in his debut. Five of those tackles were solo. Those tackles include a second quarter sack of quarterback Jake Zembiec, chasing him out of bounds. While it is still unclear where exactly Parsons will play in the Fall, it is undeniable that he will be on the field and ready to make an instant impact.
2. Freshman kicker Carson Landis donned both Blue and White
Carson Landis took over the kicking duties for both Blue and White during the Penn State Spring Game on Saturday. This is more than likely a preview of what fans will see during the 2018 season. The only other listed kicker for Penn State is star punter Blake Gillikin.
Landis made all four extra points in his debut and notched the first points for the White team during the third quarter when he hit a 34-yard field goal.
3. Trace McSorley had a solid outing
Starting quarterback Trace McSorley started the game for the Blue team and marched right down the field on 12 plays for the first score of the game to Hippenhammer. During the opening drive McSorley rushed for 22 yards and threw a nice 24-yard pass to receiver Cam Sullivan-Brown. It was a good opening drive for the veteran, who ended his day 10-14 for 104 yards and one touchdown. During a post-game interview, McSorley applauded the progess that the young team has made over spring practice, stating, “I think we got a really good foundation of chemistry and we are able to build from here, and come fall camp and fall season, I feel really good about it.” He went on to say that this is a totally different year and that, “…last year is not going to have any effect on this year.”
With Tommy Stevens out with a foot injury, McSorley was replaced with sophomore Sean Clifford, who has gotten a lot of positive comments from Coach Franklin during the spring.
4. Running by committee was the theme
Several backs were showcased for both Blue and White on Saturday, but the most notable was Mark Allen. Allen is a graduate senior and was the lead back for the Blue team, gaining a running back high 30 rushing yards and one touchdown. While the White team was limited to 24 yards rushing in the first half, it was the Blue team that put the ball on the ground twice during the Penn State Spring Game.
Miles Sanders may not have had a huge impact on Saturday but he is still the guy to take over for Saquon Barkley in the fall. In his post-game interview, Sanders stated, “…at the end of the day it’s just another practice to go out there and get better.”
Sanders’ post-game comments are true for the entire team; it was another chance at practice for a young team with high expectations. The Blue team looked better than the White team on Saturday, which is how it should have been with the majority of letter winners and projected starters on Blue. All in all the Penn State Spring Game showed positive progress for a team that is still trying to build chemistry. The defensive questions may not have been fully answered, but the young guys showed that they have the ability to step up and be competitive in the Big Ten East. In addition, the offensive weapons are abundant for McSorley with the loss of DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki to the NFL.
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