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Penn State Football: What To Know And What To Watch For At Blue White 2016

by on April 15, 2016 2:00 PM

With Penn State's annual spring scrimmage set to take place this Saturday it's always good to have a quick refresher course when it comes to the ins and outs of the Nittany Lion roster and storylines as spring ball comes to a close.

To be certain Penn State won't be showing its entire playbook on Saturday and with weeks of practicing against the same formations and plays, the defense will have a bit of an advantage at times. So while fans will get a sense of what Penn State's new offense might look like under new OC Joe Moorhead and how the defense is shaping up under new DC Brent Pry, it's hardly a perfect indication of how the upcoming season will go.

So in turn it comes down to the little details that will mean the most by the time Saturday's scrimmage ends. The score probably won't be high and the hits won't be too hard, but the individual performances and wrinkles will be worth keeping an eye on.

The full rosters for each team can be viewed here (Blue) and here (White). The blue team for the most part is a collection of 2015 starters with a handful of new faces sprinkled in. Trace McSorely, Saquon Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton, Andrew Nelson and Paris Palmer are all names wearing the blue this weekend.

Tommy Stevens and Jake Zembiec will quarterback the white squad with the help of a trio of young receivers in Juwan Johnson, Irvin Charles, and DeAndre Thompkins. Andre Robinson will also get meaningful snaps at running back for the white team as well.

Here are five more things to watch for this Saturday:

Andre Robinson: One of the more interesting questions coming out of spring ball is who will play behind Saquon Barkley. The most obvious choice seems to be incoming freshman Miles Sanders, but that neglects an already talented group of players who have been waiting in the wings. Getting passed over for better players is part of the game, but Andre Robinson seems to be the type of player too talented to simply watch. A strong outing this weekend won't hurt his stock any, and if he can prove his worth with one final scrimmage heading into the summer, it will likely only further the belief that Penn State will have to find a way to use him. He ought to be the primary back for most of the game for the white squad, so he won't be short of chances.

Offensive Line: This group is obviously the talk of the offense when it comes to how well Penn State can or cannot play in 2016. Chances are there will be more combinations than you can count hitting the field on Saturday so it's not going to be a perfect measuring stick. Even so, the little things like Paris Palmer on the right side of the line instead of the left and freshman Connor McGovern making his debut are all little things to keep an eye on. Gaia at center should be set in stone by now, but in theory most everything else is at least open to debate until September comes. Don't put too much stock into how the day goes for this unit, but remember the good things that work.

How fast is fast really?: Joe Moorhead's offense is allegedly the closest thing Penn State has gotten to the Bill O'Brien NASCAR package since his departure. If anything it might be faster. But does it work yet? That's not to say the concept isn't a good one, but seeing how fast the offense can operate effectively at this juncture is worth keeping an eye on. It's not strictly a no huddle attack, the offense will rush to the line, check the sideline for a call and change if need be, but it's still going to keep defenses on their heels when things are clicking. Much like the offensive line, this isn't a finished product just yet, but if there are glimpses of something great in the works, that should be enough to keep your heartburn down for a few more months.

RPO NO?: One of the biggest calling cards of the Moorhead offense is the read-pass-option. Plays within plays that require a quarterback to read the defense and make a series of calls based on what he sees. In theory it's supposed to a friendly system for an offensive line and an effective but simple concept of attack. If the run isn't there you pass, if the pass isn't there you run, and if neither are there the quarterback can take the ball himself and run. Instead of tempo for this thing to watch, simply see how often each quarterback makes the right choice. Forget how many yards the play got or how fast the offense is moving down the field, just keep an eye on how the decision making is going.

Redshirts no more: Like all spring games, Saturday is a chance to see players hit the field for the first or second time since getting on campus. In many cases it's an opportunity to watch redshirt freshman show off what they've learned in a year on the wings. Sterling Jenkins (76) on the line, Nick Bowers (83) at tight end, and receiver Juwan Johnson (84) are all prime candidates to open your eyes to the future of the program.

AUTOGRAPH SESSION

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The annual autographs session will be held at the Beaver Stadium gates on the exterior of the stadium from 11:15-12:05 p.m..

The Nittany Lions will be spread out at five stadium gates by position. The breakdown is as follows:

Gate A -- Running Backs/Tight Ends

Gate B -- Quarterbacks/Defensive Backs

Gate C -- Defensive Line/Linebackers

Gate E -- Wide Receivers/Specialists

Gate F -- Offensive Line

GAME FORMAT

The Blue-White Game will feature regular scoring. The squad has been split into a Blue team and a White team. Quarterbacks will wear the opposite jersey color of their team (Blue team QBs will wear white jerseys; White team QBs will wear blue jerseys). The game will have four quarters, each 12 minutes in length. All four quarters will feature a running clock. The clock will stop at each possession change and during a called penalty. There will be a media timeout in each quarter at the first change of possession after the 6:00 mark. The final two minutes of each half will have normal timing. Each team will be awarded three timeouts. There will be 20-minute halftime intermission.

PARKING INFO

WEATHER

Sunny, with a high of 70 degrees, according to Accuweather. The temperature is expected to be around 67 degrees at kickoff. Stay up to date on our weather page.

GAME DAY SCHEDULE

 

8 a.m. - Beaver Stadium lots open

9 a.m.-1 p.m. - Family Fun Zone in Holuba Hall

9 a.m. - Fan Festival opens on Curtin Road

10:30 a.m. - Team buses arrive (Curtin and Porter Roads)

11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m. - Player Autograph Sessions.

12:05 p.m. - Gates A and B open

2 p.m. - Kickoff

 



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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