Any other year, a change to the scoring system for the Blue-White Game, scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday inside Beaver Stadium, would generate some buzz among Penn State fans. It's not really a big change, but when one program has the stability Penn State has over the last five decades], even the small things pop up on people's radar.
With new coach Bill O'Brien set to lead his team out onto the Beaver Stadium field for the first time, however, the new structure of the game, which this year will pit the offense against the defense, will be just one of many things fans will be keeping an eye on.
Under Paterno, the squad was split in two and each side had an offense and a defense while the game was played as a normal game might be.
Now, though, with the two units facing off against each other, the game, and scoring, has changed. Here is how the team's will put up points:
Offense: Touchdown-six points, field goal-three points, big play (15+ yard play)-2 points, two consecutive first downs-two points, point-after-touchdown-one point.
Defense: Touchdown-seven points, turnover-six points, sack-four points, three-and-out-one point,
But what other things will fans need to look for this weekend? Here's a quick guide.
Secondary: Penn State is replacing all four starters in the defensive backfield and has been battling some injuries there this spring, too. It should be interesting to see how this unit holds up. It will also be worth monitoring former wideout Curtis Drake, who moved to the defensive side of the ball for this year's drills, to see how he's adapting to the relocation.
Linebackers: Linebacker Gerald Hodges said this spring that the linebackers will have more responsibility in coverage and will probably be blitzing more, too, in new defensive coordinator Ted Roof's schemes. Don't look for Penn State to show much in this game, but this could be a good first taste of what Linebacker U is going to look like moving forward.
Tight Ends: Bill O'Brien set records with his use of the tight end last season in New England, and he's made it clear he wants to get those guys involved in the offense at Penn State, too. Look for guys like Kevin Haplea and Garry Gilliam to be a little more active in the passing game than they were last season, when Andrew Szczerba led the tight ends with just 12 catches.
Running Backs: Silas Redd has the starting job pretty much locked up for the fall, but there will be some things to watch for at this position nonetheless. Redd has said the goal is to get him more involved in the passing game, so it will be interesting to see if that starts at the Blue-White Game. The battle for the No. 2 running back spot will be interesting to watch, too. Recently converted from wide receiver, Bill Belton will be looking to leave a lasting impression before junior Curtis Dukes returns from sitting out the spring to focus on academics and incoming freshman Akeel Lynch joins the mix for fall practice.
Offensive Line: Center Matt Stankiewitch is the only returning starter along the offensive front, so fans will get a chance to see the revamped line for the first time during Blue-White. Tackle Adam Gress has opened a lot of eyes this spring by beefing up under the Nittany Lions' new strength and conditioning program and playing well in practice. Watch to see if he can finish strong.
Quarterbacks: With all due respect to the other positions, most fans will probably examine this spot most closely, and for good reason. After atrocious quarterback play last season, many will expect improvement from Matthew McGloin and Rob Bolden. They'll also be anxious to see what Paul Jones, back from spending 2011 academically ineligible, can do to make himself part of the conversation for the job. Coach Bill O'Brien has said he hopes to narrow the competition to two by the time fall practice rolls around and that there's been "no separation" to this point. With that in mind, there could be a lot riding on this scrimmage for this trio.