While the Penn State football team has been practicing and preparing for the 2017 season for a few weeks now, the annual Blue/White spring game signals the unofficial start for the Lions as they set out to defend their Big Ten Championship.
The 2017 Blue/White spring game will kickoff at 3 pm at Beaver Stadium and will air on Big Ten Network. Like many spring games, the Blue/White game will feature unorthodox scoring and is more a scrimmage than a game. But despite fans seeing limited snaps from the likes of Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, they’ll also get to see many names who could make an impact on the field down the line.
In recent years due to NCAA sanctions, the Blue/White game has seen even less competitive play for the Nittany Lions due to depth issues which caused starters to play against third and fourth-spring players. Head coach James Franklin said he hopes to have a little more balance in the 2017 game.
“In the past it really has been 1s and 2s vs. 3s and 4s on another team, that kind of deal,” Franklin told reporters after practice last Wednesday. “I’m really kind of hoping to go 1s vs 2s.”
With the season still about four months away, seeing your best players going head-to-head might scare some coaches, but Franklin said that likes to see the competition especially given that he has the full complement of 85 scholarship players for a second-straight year.
“For it to be a true evaluation for us, that’s what we do that in practice all the time, good vs good, and we want to be able to do that in the spring game as well” Franklin said.
Part of that evaluation for Franklin and his staff will be looking at players who will replace departed Nittany Lions like Chris Godwin and Garrett Sickels among others. Those who stand out during the Blue/White game won’t necessarily win a job outright, but it will certainly help their standing. The coaches and fans will also get a good look at players who sat out last season as redshirts (Hello, Shane Simmons) and others who could plays as true freshman right away (LaMont Wade, ahem).
Those evaluations will be key for Franklin and his staff going forward starting with the Blue/White game seeing as how the Lions will be returning a majority of their starters from their Rose Bowl team a season ago. They’ll lose a couple starters on the offensive line and defensive line, but the returning starters list is long and impressive.
With a bunch of starters back from a team that was *this* close to a berth in the College Football Playoff, it’s no surprise that James Franklin and his staff are eager to start the 2017 season, and that starts with the Blue/White spring game.