We are only days away from the Penn State Blue and White game.
As many Nittany Lion fans know, the annual spring game is seemingly the exclamation point to what is usually an eventful weekend in State College.
A carnival, fireworks, autograph session and the game highlight the events that culminate in what is known as Blue and White weekend.
With the game set to be played this Saturday, let’s take a look at what you can expect to see on the field.
Where: Beaver Stadium, State College, Pa.
When: Saturday, April 20, at Noon ET
Live Stream: BTN2Go (Noon ET)
Watch: Big Ten Network at Noon ET
This one is the most obvious position battle of the camp with returner Steven Bench and newcomer Tyler Ferguson set to face off.
Neither of the quarterbacks have much game experience, and O’Brien isn’t taking it easy on these guys.
Without Christian Hackenberg in Happy Valley yet, these guys will be under the microscope.
It will be interesting to see how both Bench and Ferguson respond to the challenge.
This team is by no means short of talent in the tight end department.
Matt Lehman, Jesse James, Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman all are capable of starting every snap.
Seeing how O’Brien uses these guys to match their abilities will be key; it’s no secret that he likes to mix and match offensive sets to create mismatches.
Saturday will give a glimpse into how these guys are progressing.
As one of my colleagues wrote last week, C.J. Olaniyan’s stock is rising.
This means there is essentially one spot left on the defensive line with Deion Barnes, Da’Quan Jones and Olaniyan.
The battle right now for the fourth spot is between Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson.
Johnson is a rising redshirt freshman, and this should be an exciting battle between the two.
Watch to see how Zettel and Johnson do this Saturday.
Safety seems all but locked up with returners Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong hanging around for their senior years.
But Obeng-Agyapong is not expected to be participating in the Blue and White game due to a nagging shoulder injury.
This leaves the door open for Malik Golden, a sophomore who converted from wide receiver to safety this spring.
Golden is an explosive athlete, and he is taller than both Willis and Obeng-Agyapong.
Golden will be battling it out on Saturday trying to steal Obeng-Agyapong’s spot while he’s gone.
Adam Breneman, TE, 6’4”, 230 lbs.
As a top tight end recruit, obviously Breneman will be a play to watch if he takes the field on Saturday.
That’s a big if.
O’Brien had Breneman in a “no-contact” jersey last week, with the youngster participating in mostly 7-on-7 drills.
He could be an exciting player to watch, if he’s ready to go.
Jordan Smith, CB, 5’11”, 178 lbs.
Although he wasn’t a big name brought into Happy Valley as an early enrollee, Jordan Smith can make some noise.
In a weak position on the depth chart, Smith will be battling Da’Quan Davis for his spot at corner.
Smith was a 3-star prospect and has solid skills in man coverage and run support.
Right now Smith may be flying under the radar.
This will be the second Blue and White game under O’Brien, and the offense and defense is bound to have a new look.
Not only will there be new faces, but also a new defensive coordinator in John Butler will give fans a slightly different philosophy even though many of the schemes will remain.
Look to see more complex offensive sets and packages.
This is O’Brien’s second year, and he will be vamping up his genius on offense with players that have had a whole year to learn his system.
Also expect to see each quarterback moving more than Matt McGloin did.
McGloin was a pocket passer with little outside speed, but both Bench and Ferguson bring a little more speed and athleticism to the position.
Obviously this is just a spring game, but you will be seeing excitement in the air as Penn State and its football program continue to push forward away from its dark past.