Penn State Football: Winners and Losers of 2013 Blue and White Spring Game
Penn State wrapped up its spring practice schedule for 2013 on a good note. The annual Blue White Game, despite some awkward weather conditions early on, resulted in some positive performances across the roster as position battles continue to linger into the summer. Head coach Bill O'Brien now has plenty of video to look back on as he prepares to fine-tune his preparations for the summer and gets ready for the fall.
So who had the best, and worst, days on Saturday in front of a Penn State crowd? We take a look...
Winner: Akeel Lynch
Redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch gave Penn State fans a nice glimpse of the potential future of the running game. After hearing some good things about him this spring, fans had every reason to be pleased with what they saw form Lynch. Lynch rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown and showed some good foot work.
After the game, O’Brien seemed pleased with Lynch’s performance in the game and throughout the spring, but he did note he would like to see him lower his shoulder pads a little bit more.
Look to see if that changes in the fall, because Lynch could very well be a featured player in the Penn State offense.
Winner: Deron Thompson
Deron Thompson rushed for 97 yards and had a game-long run of 41 yards to help boost his rushing average to 8.1 yards per rush. Thompson showed some good moves on the field and some quality speed on his way to a Blue White Game high of 97 rushing yards.
The Penn State backfield should be in pretty solid shape between Lynch, Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton, but having another option with some potential to fill in with some quality rushes is never a bad thing. If the spring game is any indication, Penn State may have another ball-carrier.
Winner: Brad Bars
Looking to make a case for a starting job on the Penn State defensive line, Brad Bars had a pretty good spring game. Bars brought pressure on quarterback Tyler Ferguson on multiple occasions and brought a good amount of energy to the field whenever he was out there.
For a defense looking to find some new leadership on the field, Bars has played himself into a character worth considering for leading the way with his personality and pursuit.
Loser: Sam Ficken
The afternoon started off well for Sam Ficken, who converted on his first kick of the game, but at the end of the game Ficken had missed two points after touchdowns and a 37-yard field goal.
After the game Bill O’Brien, seemed confident in his kicker, explaining that they were doing some different things by having punter Alex Butterworth holding kicks. Though he said that was no excuse, O’Brien said Ficken is still an improved kicker since the Wisconsin game.
This was just one afternoon with weather conditions changing minute by minute at times. O'Brien has seen Ficken all spring. For now, we will have to take him at his word.
Loser(s): The Quarterbacks
On a day that typically sees quarterback battles put under a microscope, both Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson had opportunities to take charge in what could be a three-way competition heading in to the fall. Neither performed great, which leaves the door open for Christian Hackenberg to make a run for a starting job over the summer.
To be fair, Bench and Ferguson had equal stats, and they were not terrible.
Each completed nine of 15 pass attempts and the yardage was about equal—with Bench owning a 99 yards to 90 yards edge—but Ferguson recorded two touchdown passes and Bench owned just one. The two combined for five sacks, Ferguson taking three in the spring game.
Bench at times overthrew his intended receivers and Ferguson had a tendency to hold onto the football a little too long. This was an afternoon for one of the two to try to separate from the other in the quarterback race, but neither managed to do so.
It could have been worse. Neither threw an interception or fumbled the football. But neither found a way to put any hopes for Hackenberg on hold at the conclusion of the spring.