It was a picture perfect day in Happy Valley for Penn State’s Blue-White game. The sky was blue, the sun was out, and the temperature was near 70 degrees. Most importantly, there was spring football at Penn State. Apart from the actual football game between the Blue squad and the White squad, there were activities for children and families, autographs, and tailgating. Blue beat White 24-7 and there are plenty of takeaways, but here are three.
Penn State’s Blue-White Game Takeaways
1. Wide receiver Dan Chisena
Walk-on senior Dan Chisena is fast. He showed off his speed on Saturday as he hauled in a 59-yard touchdown pass from Will Levis late in the third quarter. Chisena did not only get a touchdown on Saturday, but he also got a scholarship as well. After the senior speedster got in the end zone, head coach James Franklin told Beaver Stadium that with that catch and score Chisena is on a full scholarship. This announcement got loud cheers from the crowd and celebration from the team.
Coach Franklin explained after the game that the wide receiver had been on the staff’s radar. Despite being on the football radar Chisena decided to run track for the Nittany Lions instead. In addition, Franklin stated that while Chisena has the speed for the wideout position, he has not played football in a few years, so his mechanics still need some work. Regardless, his speed will come in handy this season, at receiver or special teams. Look for No. 88 on the field.
2. There is still no named quarterback for the Fall
Heading into Penn State’s Blue-White game on Saturday there were rumblings of a quarterback battle brewing. This is something that has not happened since 2016, so fans are getting excited. Tommy Stevens, who is the favorite to win the starting job, did not line up behind center at all on Saturday. Instead, Sean Clifford and Levis commanded the Blue team to a victory. While fans wanted to see Stevens command the ship, it is probably best to let his injury fully heal before gameplay.
Clifford looked ready and poised on Saturday, but receiver drops again plagued the day. The red-shirt sophomore got to work quick, hitting back-up tight end Nick Bowers twice to set up a touchdown. Further, the signal caller that looks to be closing the gap with Stevens, as he ran the ball nicely as well. Finally, we cannot forget third-stringer in the aforementioned Levis. He had a good day as well. He showed his arm strength on a 59-yard bomb to Chisena.
It will likely be an interesting summer as Stevens fights to fend off Clifford, who looked comfortable as QB1.
3. The Penn State defense is ready for Fall
The Penn State defense started right where it left off in the 2018 season. The Blue team was comprised of the projected starters and looked hungry for action. Even though tackling quarterbacks is strictly prohibited in Penn State’s Blue-White game, the Blue defense tallied 10 tackles for loss and six sacks. Sophomore linebacker Ellis Brooks led the group with six total tackles. Last season Brooks racked up 30 total tackles and one interception.
In addition to Brooks having a nice day, fans got to see defensive tackle Fred Hansard suit up. Hansard suffered a knee injury against Michigan State last season. The sophomore had a sack in the Blue-White game. It is encouraging to see him back on the field as the Nittany Lions will welcome his size and athleticism this Fall.
Enough about the Blue defense, true freshman Keaton Ellis stood out for the White team on Saturday. The defensive back out of State College Area High School has been impressing coaches and defensive veterans all spring. While he may not play a lot this fall, the true freshman and early-enrollee is right there. He did not have a pass break-up but stuck with the starting receivers like a glove. Further, Ellis tallied four tackles on Saturday, two solos. Defensive coordinator Brent Pry praised the young defensive back stating, “Super excited about the spring that Keaton had…I think Keaton’s going to help us.” High praise for a young man that just got done playing high school football two miles away.
This summer fans need to keep an eye on several positions. Mainly, the quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see how Stevens bounces back after surgery on a lower leg injury. Further, if Clifford can keep closing the gap. In addition, I did not talk much about them here, but the running backs had a good day. Especially true freshman Noah Cain. The running back group is stacked with talent and will be fun to watch going forward. Finally, the defense needs a little polishing up but overall looks ready and hungry for the 2019 season. Look for a few young guys to make their presence known and play a significant role come Fall.