Penn State’s Blue and White game is slowly creeping closer as spring practice is set to begin.
In Happy Valley, spring practice means important position battles are set to begin.
The Lions lost important seniors at key spots and coach Bill O’Brien will need to find strong replacements.
For Penn State, this spring may dictate which direction the program heads next season.
If the Lions are able to get talented athletes that know O'Brien's system into starting roles, 2013 can be successful.
But the following position battles will be key to the 2013 season.
The season Zach Zwinak had in 2012 for the Lions should be proof enough for him to start in 2013.
But as O’Brien showed last season, the starter at running back needs to earn the spot in practice.
That’s what makes this position battle so interesting and important.
A strong running game will be key to a successful offense in 2013.
Penn State has three good backs to choose from in Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch.
Although all three backs will most likely get time, whoever emerges as the top back will need to be consistent.
Even though Penn State is realistically only looking for one new starter at linebacker, the competition for the spot will be very important.
The Lions lost senior leaders Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges at both outside linebacker spots.
Mike Hull was able to step in after Mauti’s season ended, and Hull, along with middle linebacker Glenn Carson, will be set to lead the defense.
But as most football fans know, Penn State is known as “Linebacker U” and the third linebacker will need to be able find success early on.
Right now, the early front-runners for the job are sophomore Ben Kline and freshman Nyeem Wartman.
The battle for the starter at quarterback will be undoubtedly the most important of the spring.
The loss of Matt McGloin leaves the Lions without any experience or seniority amongst the quarterbacks.
Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson will be the top two gunslingers competing for the job this spring, while top-recruit Christian Hackenberg still needs to graduate from high school.
If Hackenberg decides to redshirt in 2013, this means the job will go to either Bench or Ferguson.
This is why the competition is so important, because whoever wins the job will need to work into the offense.
O’Brien needs to name the starter at quarterback as early as possible to keep the offense moving forward.
Whoever impresses in the spring is most likely to win the job and call the signals against Syracuse at the Meadowlands.
That is of course, if Hackenberg doesn’t become the starter instantly over the summer.