STATE?COLLEGE- This could be the most intriguing, and potentially exciting, Blue-White Game ever, but only if Mother Nature decides to cooperate.
Here we will take a look at some of the things fans should and should not expect to see today, albeit with the understanding that if it rains - as forecasted - Bill O'Brien's plans for the spring scrimmage may change significantly.
Expect to see: Entirely new formations, schemes and verbiage from the offense, which someday may resemble what the New England Patriots do but for now is very much a work in progress.
Don't expect to see: O'Brien open up the playbook and show us much of what the offense is capable of doing. Not yet. This scrimmage, the coach has said, will not have "a bunch of fireworks." Nor should it. Save all of the new stuff for the regular season, when it can come as a surprise to opponents.
Expect to see: All three quarterbacks - Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones - get ample opportunities running the offense. O'Brien wants to trim the competition down to two very shortly, so this scrimmage could be the last opportunity for whoever is currently running third to make a good impression.
Don't expect to see: The quarterbacks chucking the ball deep downfield a lot, either Saturday or this fall. The Patriots' offense is designed to eat up chunks of yardage underneath by hitting open targets and creating space for them to run.
Expect to see: McGloin play well in this type of offense, both Saturday and this fall.
Don't expect to see: Bolden all of a sudden became overly proficient in making the kind of short throws necessary to excel in this kind of offense. He has struggled mightily with those throws the past two years.
Expect to see: Jones' true abilities, or possible lack thereof. It's easy to say Jones is better than Bolden and needs to be given an opportunity, but truth be told, no one really knows what Jones is capable of. He had an excellent spring game two years ago with two TDs against the third-string defense, then sat out all of last season because of academics. Maybe Jones is the real deal and a legitimate contender for the starter's job, or maybe he's nowhere near as good as McGloin or Bolden. We should get some indications Saturday, at least of his abilities to run the offense, stand in the pocket and deliver the ball with accuracy.
Don't expect to see: Bolden or Jones transfer to another Division I program if one decides to leave Penn State after the spring, which would seem to be a good possibility. If one of them does leave, it likely would be for a shot to play immediately, which means going down to Division I-AA.
Expect to see: Some creative new routes run by the receivers and maybe even the tight ends, trying to get open in space so they can run after the catch.
Don't expect to see: A whole lot of success in that regard from the receivers or quarterbacks just yet. This offense depends heavily on timing and making good decisions, and it takes time - a lot of time - to get it down pat.
Expect to see: Running back Silas Redd catching a few passes and perhaps even lining up in the slot on occasion.
Don't expect to see: Overly simple screen passes thrown to running backs out of the backfield like in years past. This new offense will try to utilize the backs in creative ways in the passing game.
Expect to see: More real football competition, which means more physical play. The coaches are still heavily involved in the evaluation process and need to see how the players respond in a competitive environment.
Don't expect to see: The same type of competitiveness as a real game, just more than a typical scrimmage.
Expect to see: The defense be ahead of the offense, particularly the front seven of the defense since there's a lot of talent there, compared to only one returning starter on the offensive line.
Don't expect to see: The defense hitting the quarterback. Linebacker Gerald Hodges said O'Brien won't be too happy about that.
Expect to see: Some new players at different positions, including: Curtis Drake (WR to CB), Bill Belton (WR to RB) and Dakota Royer (LB to TE).
Don't expect to see: Some injured players take part in the scrimmage, including: LB Michael Mauti (knee), DE Pete Massaro (knee), WR Devon Smith (foot) and CB Adrian Amos (groin). Also, LB Khairi Fortt (knee) is questionable.
Expect to see: A first-team secondary of Drake and Stephon Morris at the cornerback spots and Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong at the safeties.
Don't expect to see: Those four guys starting in the fall, since Amos should earn one corner spot and there will be good competition for one or two others.
Expect to see: The cornerbacks play some man-to-man coverage Saturday, which will be a nice change from the soft zones of years past.
Don't expect to see: A shutdown corner on the field Saturday. Finding at least one will be a priority if the team wants to play a lot of man this fall.