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Penn State Spring Thoughts

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As difficult as it can be to discern real progress from a spring football game, Penn State’s 37-0 Blue victory over White in the Nittany Lions scrimmage earlier this month provided some clues.

Penn State capped their spring in front of 65.000 fans at Beaver Stadium. Here's what we learned from the scrimmage.

QUARTERBACK
Head coach James Franklin said throughout the winter that the position was an open competition.  However, judging by Trace McSorely’s numbers in the spring game, Penn State may have found their signal caller.

McSorely, a redshirt freshman, threw four touchdowns on over 250 passing yards and showed good awareness in the pocket. While the dual-threat quarterback doesn’t have ideal arm strength, he impressed this spring.

“What you saw during McSorley's 23-of-27 day were the same things you look for in a combine or a pro day,” said David Jones of Pennlive.com. “Precision and accuracy.”

OFFENSIVE LINE
Bringing in recruits at the offensive line position has a top concern for Franklin since arriving in State College three years ago, and he’s responded by bring in both quantity and quality.

The line did not face any active rushes during the spring game, of course, so there are still question marks as to how the mostly new group will perform during live action. Another story to watch is new offensive line coach Matt Limegrover’s decision to move one of the Nittany Lions few veteran guards, Brian Gaia, over to the center position to solidify the interior.

RUNNING BACK
Saquon Barkley did not play in the game, but that was not because of injury.

"We just felt like we know what we have with Saquon,” said Franklin ab9out last season’s 1000-yard rusher. “It's a fine line. Saquon still has to get better. He has a lot of areas for growth, but to go out and go live in the spring game, we didn't think it made a whole lot of sense.”

The backup tailback spot is still open and each running back was in full force throughout the game. Mark Allen demonstrated speed and illusiveness, finishing with 97 total yards on 15 touches. Andre Robinson showed power running skills, which was apparent once he broke an early tackle and promptly ran 28-yards into the end zone.

New offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s up-tempo, spread scheme flashed its strong potential this spring.

“The pace of the offense had James Franklin’s defense on its heels, and knees,” said Penn Live beat writer Bob Flounders. “It can be a tough adjustment.”

DEFENSE
Injuries to key players on the defensive side of the ball limited the defenses ability to practice during the spring and it showed in the Blue-White game. The Nittany Lions know the level of production they expect from linebackers Brandon Bell and Nyeem Wartman, but a few others emerged this spring.

“Kevin Givens is the real deal,” Flounders said about the one-time Pitt commitment, who was moved from linebacker to defensive end this offseason. “It can be said that his success Saturday came against the second- and third-team offensive line, but he still looked explosive and impressive on the way to six tackles and two sacks from his defensive tackle spot.”

Safety Koa Farmer led the team with six tackles.

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