STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — From preseason polls, award watch lists, and most important game debates, James Franklin and Penn State football better get used to being highly ranked over the next few months. After feeling the pressure to get the program back on track following 2020 and 2021, Penn State is facing a spotlight of a different kind this season. Expectations for the 2023 Nittany Lions are as high as they’ve been in at least the last decade. And we won’t have to wait long for the national focus to be fixed on Happy Valley. Recently, the Penn State Blue-White Game was listed as a must-watch spring game for this upcoming weekend.
Why is the Penn State Blue-White Game a must watch spring game?
Spring is in the air, and “ranking season” is undoubtedly up and running for 2023. In the coming months, we’ll see everything from preseason Heisman odds to the best returning long snappers ranked (I’m mostly kidding on that last one — I hope). On Monday, Jesse Simonton of On3 listed his top 10 most intriguing spring games this weekend. The Penn State Blue-White Game was listed at No.2, right behind the Texas spring game.
This Saturday, 27 programs will hold a spring scrimmage?
— On3 (@On3sports) April 10, 2023
Given the noteworthy quarterback competition between Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning, it makes sense that the Longhorns snagged the top spot. But Penn State also has quarterback questions to watch this weekend. Simonton listed the Lions as a “missing piece team,” noting that former five-star Drew Allar could help James Franklin’s team ascend to new heights.
However, for what it’s worth, the Penn State quarterback competition is very real, according to James Franklin. While Allar has all the traits of an elite quarterback, Beau Pribula has generated real buzz around his athletic ability this spring. Last week, Franklin noted that the battle is ongoing “until it is obvious and has been decided.” So far this spring, we’ve only seen the quarterbacks throw on air. Saturday’s Blue-White Game will be a good test to see how real the competition will be going into the fall.
What are other storylines to watch on Saturday?
There are also several other intriguing storylines to watch on Saturday. The competition at receiver is still wide open. While it appears that KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Harrison Wallace have pulled ahead for the top two slots, it’ll be interesting to see if they’ve done so by a wide enough margin to hold off incoming transfer Dante Cephas. According to Franklin, the third wideout position is still very much up for grabs.
On the other side of the ball, questions still linger around the depth of the defensive line. This was already one of the weak links for the Nittany Lions last season. After losing PJ Mustipher, Penn State desperately needs someone to step up. Dvon Ellies and Zane Durant are names that have circulated throughout the spring. Both will be stepping into expanded roles in 2023, and we aren’t quite sure how they’ll respond. Given the Lions’ dominant running attack, Saturday should be a good first test.
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