There was a lot to uncover from Saturday’s Blue-White game.
New coordinator Manny Diaz already seems to have made an impact on Penn State’s defense, which won, 17-13, in an untraditional offense-defense format. Meanwhile, Penn State’s offense has talent but they are still a work in progress. Here are some takeaways from Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium
IT’S SEAN CLIFFORD’S JOB
Despite many clamoring for five-star freshman Drew Allar, Clifford still has command of the Nittany Lions. He has shown poise that the younger quarterbacks don’t have yet.
He connected on a beautiful 9-yard pass to Malick Meiga that got called back due to a holding call. Four plays later he hit with Western Kentucky transfer Mitchell Tinsley for a touchdown. Clifford has a chance to be the next Kenny Pickett, a sixth-year senior that had a Heisman-worthy season at Pitt in 2021.
THE DEFENSE IS AHEAD OF THE OFFENSE
In head coach James Franklin’s post-game press conference, he talked about the teams’ depth at all three levels of the defense. Pass rushers Spencer Perry, Amin Vanover and Dominic DeLuca each recorded a sack. Another defensive lineman, Jake Wilson, made an incredible stop on a 3rd and two on Kaytron Allen which resulted in a three-and-out and punt, giving the defense three-points.
Linebacker Kobe King had five tackles and made plays near the line of scrimmage, as did safety Jaylen Reed. Bobby Walchak and Dominick DeLuca each had interceptions, and Zakee Wheatley had three tackles and three pass breakups, including one to seal the game for the Blue team on the last play.
YOUNG QUARTERBACKS NEED WORK
Allar, Christian Veilleux and Beau Pribula all have shown flashes, but all had struggles going through their reads, especially Allar.
There were at least four times where he had an open receiver only to check it down to the running back underneath. Allar overthrew at least four passes and looked robotic in the pocket. Allar threw both of the offense’s interceptions on the afternoon. Veilleux played similar to Allar minus the interceptions, and Pribula showed potential in seven-on-seven drills, but during the segments of play, he had difficulties with pressure by getting sacked twice. However, he showed the most promise out of all three young quarterbacks with his accuracy, and his ability to extend plays.
THE RUNNING BACKS CAN PLAY
Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen, Keyvone Lee and Devyn Ford all showed off their skills.
Allen showed power on his first two carries with a pair of four-yard runs. Lee averaged four yards a carry, also showing the power to bounce to the perimeter when the holes are not being opened by the offensive line. Singleton had negative one-yard on four carries, but he showed his pass-catching skills with a 27-yard catch and run in one of the seven-on-seven periods.
The best running back for Penn State Saturday was Ford. He came up with runs of eight and 14 yards on the drive Penn State scored its second field goal. If Penn State can get its line to congeal before the fall, it will have a great stable of backs that bring something different to the table.
MITCHELL TINSLEY IS THE REAL DEAL
Tinsley has made an impact on the Penn State receiving corps in winter workouts as well as spring practice. Tinsley has worked with Meiga, KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Parker Washington, Jaden Dottin, and freshman Kaden Saunders to help improve the receiving group as a whole and attempt the fill the shoes of Jahan Dotson.
At 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, Tinsley is a bigger receiver that can be a threat in the red zone and has some of the same playmaking ability as Dotson. Penn State hopes he can have the same impact on offense as transfer Arnold Ebiketie had on Penn State’s defense last season.