This year, however, that concept was taken to a new level, as the defining play of the Blue's 17-3 victory was turned in by a player who was not even listed on the roster distributed to the media.
It plopped right into the hands of No. 96, who returned the interception nine yards to the White 18.
Unfortunately, No. 96 was not on the numerical roster. Reporters began shuffling their papers and eventually realized he was listed on the team breakdowns, but only by name and number. He is Cody Castor, presumably a walk-on, and for the sake of this story we'll say he hails from parts unknown. (OK, he's from Uniontown, Pa.)
Here is the rest of what went down at Beaver Stadium Saturday.
MAN OF THE HOUR: OK, so maybe he was playing primarily against deep reserves on defense. But Jones hit on 5 of 8 passes for 67 yards and a pair of 18-yard TD strikes to Kersey.
CLOSE SECOND: Linebacker Nate Stupar had seven tackles, an interception (and 24-yard return) and one tackle behind the line.
CLOSE THIRD: Linebacker Mike Yancich, playing with the second team, had seven tackles and half a sack.
TURNING POINT: No. 96's play.
SOLID STRATEGY: The staff's decision not to play star running back Evan Royster.
NUMBERS GAME: The two teams combined to rush for 91 yards and the ball-carriers averaged less than 2.4 yards per carry in the game.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: The defensive front sevens generally dominated, as the linebackers and defensive linemen combined for five sacks and eight tackles behind the line.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Walk-on transfer Russell Nye (the punting guy) averaged 51.3 yards on three boots. Keep in mind there was no rush for returns on punts, though.
WHAT'S UP WITH?
The two primary contenders for the starting quarterback job — Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin — both looking kind of shaky. We are now officially assured of four more months of hand-wringing among the fans who got a good look at the duo for the first time.
Penn State pulling Joe Paterno from the radio broadcast of the game. We get that things are not quite the same as when he used to call the annual spring game with his brother George and play-by-play man Fran Fisher. But listening to the legendary coach do color was a real highlight for a lot of people.
Brett Brackett dropping the first ball thrown to him Saturday. He rebounded to grab two receptions for 29 yards.
HIT SQUAD: Linebacker Bani Gbadyu wiped out tight end Garry Gilliam after the latter made a catch late in the game, drawing hoots and hollers from the sideline. Gilliam jumped up and was spotted laughing on the sideline a few minutes later.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Defensive tackle James Terry had five solo tackles for the Blue. That a great number for an interior lineman. He also broke up a pass.
DID YOU NOTICE?
The new paint jobs in the end zones feature the chipmunk head logo and diagonal lines. Don't get used to them. They were there on a one-time basis in place of the usual look - Penn State in block letters. The vast amount of blue painted used to do block-letter logo can hurt the grass at this time of year.
Tight end Brennan Coakley, who was petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility after missing two full seasons with knee injuries, played early in the game but was in street clothes for the second half. He limped off the field after the game. When asked about what appeared to be another leg injury, he just shook his head in frustration and declined comment.
The number of former Lions on the sideline. They included: Ki-Jana Carter, Bryant Johnson, Rich Ohrnberger, A.Q. Shipley, Brandon Short and Derrick Williams. Recent No. 1 draft pick Jared Odrick was also in the house.
When a video of PSU president Graham Spanier announcing a new university fund-raising drive cut out after a few seconds, more than a few people broke into applause.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Do we know any more about the QB race than we did before spring ball started?