B-W GAME: FOS Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's sunny spring game at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State's annual Blue-White Game has long been a showcase for players who might not otherwise find the spotlight. Saturday, sophomore walk-on RB Cole Chiappialle took center stage.

The 5-foot-8, 211-pounder from Beaver Falls, Pa., had a team-high 80 total yards and scored the game's first two touchdowns in front of an estimated crowd of 72,000.

It was a special ending to what had otherwise been a difficult spring for Chiappialle. His mother passed away in early March, less than two weeks before the Nittany Lions began spring ball.

After Saturday's game, new head coach James Franklin singled out Chiappialle in front of the rest of the team, lauding him for his work ethic and ability to overcome adversity.

The Nittany Lions sang the young back's praises, too.

“He's a guy we all love and we all rally around,” said starting QB Christian Hackenberg.

For his part, Chiappialle insisted that Saturday's effort was not necessarily the culmination of anything.

“For me, it's the beginning,” he said. “I'm just gonna work hard every day like I have been doing, and good things will fall into place from there. This is not my high point. In my mind, this is the beginning.”

Here is what went down in the Blue-White Game.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Franklin talked up Chiappialle during a “Goon Show” appearance Thursday and the sophomore made his coach look good Saturday. He rambled for 63 yards and two scores, and caught two passes for 17 yards. He lined up at RB and Wildcat QB.

CLOSE SECOND: S Ryan Keiser intercepted a pass and returned it for 19 yards, forced a fumble, and made three tackles.

CLOSE THIRD: You may think this is too low, but we're knocking DE C.J. Olaniyan (2.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss) and DT Anthony Zettel (1 sack, 2 tackles for loss) down to a tie for third because they were facing a very overmatched offensive line for the White.

TURNING POINT: When the coaching staff decided to put most of the first- and second-teamers on the Blue squad and everyone else on the White.

SOLID STRATEGY: Hackenberg logged only three series (going 4 of 10 for 43 yards) before donning a ball cap and spending the rest of the day on the sideline. He gave way to true freshman early enrollee Michael O'Conner, who was 11 of 16 for 81 yards. Smart to get the projected backup a lot of work.

NUMBERS GAME: The White had … three first downs, -25 rushing yards and 50 total yards, and went 0 of 11 on third down. Yet time of possession was nearly equal (29:49 Blue, 29:43 white).

BUSINESS AS USUAL: The time-honored formula for guessing Blue-White Game attendance worked again. In case you've never heard of it, the key is to multiply the game-day temperature (which was right around 70 degrees this year) by 1,000.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Generally speaking, new punter Chris Gulla did a nice job. He averaged 40.1 yards for the White and 37.8 yard for the Blue. Of 12 total kicks, only one was a duck.


• The lack of balance between the two teams. We were happy to be rid of Bill O'Brien's goofy offense vs. defense scoring system. But these games are more fun when the Blue and White are evenly matched.

• Zettel's jersey. Not many defensive tackles can make the bare midriff look work.

• WR Geno Lewis badly under-throwing fellow WR Matt Zanelatto on an end around pass in the third-quarter. Zanelatto was so wide open he still caught the ball and scored. But I guess we now know why Lewis, who was a high school QB, is playing WR at this level.

• K Sam Ficken missing an extra point. It was not his fault -- Keiser bobbled Tyler Yazujian's poor snap. But a missed PAT is a missed PAT.

• The lack of organization for the pre-game autograph session. Many fans were standing in lines that went nowhere. Kudos to PSU for bringing back the autograph session, but hopefully the logistics are honed moving forward.

HIDDEN HERO: White QB D.J. Crook had poor numbers (10 of 17 for 68 yards and two picks). He had no time to throw (he was sacked five times) due to a makeshift O-line, yet he kept grinding away out there.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: TE Kyle Carter struggled with injury issues in 2013. But he looked good Saturday, catching a game-high four passes for 34 yards.


• Walk-on LB Matthew Baney intercepted a third-quarter pass and returned it 28 yards for a score. On the play, he picked up a nice block from Zettel.

• Starting TB Zach Zwinak dressed and warmed up but did not play. Fellow veteran back Bill Belton had only one carry for 1 yard.

• Starting C Wendy Laurent appeared to injure his left knee in the second quarter. He walked off the field under his own power but did not return to the game.

• After Laurent went down, G Angelo Mangiro took over snapping duties for the first-team line.

• TE Adam Breneman and OT Andrew Nelson were both in street clothes. Both reportedly have knee injuries but both appeared to be moving around well Saturday.

• Converted DT Brian Gaia, who is now at OG, won the Red Worrell Award (most improved offensive player).

• Zettel won the Jim O'Hora Award (most improved defensive player).

• DE Deion Barnes won the Frank Patrick Total Commitment Award.

• Ficken won the Coaches Special Teams Award.

• The team wore jerseys with no names. But they did include Penn State Uplifting Athletes' patches.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Did the first-year staff get everything done that needed to be done in the spring?

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