For the first time since November, football was back in Beaver Stadium.
The Blue team, made up primarily of starters, beat the White team 21-10 on an absolutely beautiful day in State College.
Trace McSorley played three series, going 10-14 for 107 yards and a single touchdown. With many of his playmakers off the NFL and with Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins sitting the game out, it was a great day for McSorley to build rapport with some of the new guys in the offense.
Cam Sullivan-Brown, K.J. Hamler, and Danny Dalton all got theirs, but it was redshirt freshman Mac Hippenhammer who showed that he should be in consideration for playing time in a crowded receiving room. Hip had four catches for 43 yards and a pair of touchdowns, a five-yard out from McSorley and a 29-yard bomb on a gorgeous pass from fellow redshirt freshman Sean Clifford.
Franklin has raved about Clifford since he arrived on campus last summer. He has a big arm and showed the skill set that had many a college coach drooling. Tommy Stevens was out with a foot injury, so Clifford's extended playing time should give fans some ease knowing that the third-string quarterback can play.
Every year the hope has been that it is finally "the year" for the offensive line, but this current group has a legitimate chance to be the best in the conference. Matt Limegrover did a little bit of shuffling with his tackles, starting Chasz Wright at right tackle and working Will Fries in at both left and right. As for the vacated right guard, it looks like it's Michal Menet's job to lose.
John Reid and Amani Oruwariye didn't play, so we got an extended look at some of the guys vying for that third corner slot. Tariq Castro-Fields played well, but it was hard to find a better defensive back than Zech McPhearson on Saturday. Playing on the White, McPhearson had to go against the guys expected to push for minutes this fall and he did not disappoint. He was challenged early on a deep ball by McSorley but played it perfectly. He finished the game with three pass breakups, by far the most on Saturday. Speaking of guys fighting for playing time in the secondary, we got our first look at Lamont Wade at safety. He flashed some good cover skills and finished with five total tackles and a forced fumble.
Penn State loses a lot on defense, but the way a lot of young guys played yesterday should alleviate some of those concerns. Early enrollee Micah Parsons showed promise in his new role at outside linebacker. He finished with a game-high eight tackles and one sack. Fellow early enrollee Jesse Luketa totaled four tackles and a fumble recovery. Wide receiver-turned-linebacker Dae'lun Darien looked surprisingly comfortable for a guy who has been playing the position for only a few months. He added four tackles and standing at 6'4 used his long arms to bat down a ball at the line of scrimmage.
Also hey a new kicker! Carson Landis handled every kick yesterday as he hopes to find his way onto the field. His kickoffs left something to be desired but he was perfect on extra points and nailed a 34-yard field goal.