The Mike Hall Bowl

AKA Penn State Blue-White Game

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

The impression I got from watching BTN’s telecast of the Penn State spring Blue-White Game was that it was all about BTN and Mike Hall, one of its employees.  Fortunately, Matt McGloin was there to provide at least some Penn State relevance. But, for those of you who actually attended the game, you surely missed the wonder of Mike Hall’s stint as a trainee game official.

As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing was superfluous. Do we really care about announcers? Lest I offend their gigantic egos, let me state that it is not to see them that we watch these games. Furthermore, dwelling on their circus-like performances (in this case) annoys the hell out of me.

Perhaps BTN views the spring games as being less than serious and in need of an entertainment boost. I’d rather see the Country Music Awards than see a football game replete with distracting cut-aways to Mike Hall every ten minutes or so.

The Real Game

James Franklin changed the format such that a field goal kicking competition was held before the game and a punting competition was conducted at halftime. We didn’t get to see the former because the Ohio State spring game ran past the slotted time for our game to start, and I didn’t get to see the latter (if it was actually covered) because I was cooking steaks for the cave dwellers. I’m thinking BTN would have preferred to cover Mike Hall in the locker room getting his halftime official briefing, but I don’t know this for a fact.

Christian Hackenberg got a lot more reps at QB than one would have thought he should, because everyone was dying to see Trace McSorley, who was injured and couldn’t play. During the time Hack was in there, we couldn’t help but note once again that the offensive line was in need of a lot of work. Even playing behind mostly starters on the blue team, Hack was hurried on every passing down. (Some of us would say this is because our defensive starters are so great.) But srrsly, folks, you know it, I know it, and the whole damn stadium full of 68,000 happy springtime Nittany Lions fans knew it — the offensive line is gonna suck yet again this year. That’s one team component that won’t just get fixed overnight. Ain’t no free agents in college football — yet.

The kickers provided another source of amusement, notably Joey “Big Toe” Julius, a chunky kid with huge upper arms and thighs and an unorthodox kicking style. His kickoffs blasted through the end zone like rifle shots, and their trajectory was about as flat. In the competition, he managed to make one from 55 and just miss from 59 yards. To me, and maybe to a lot of my fellow old farts, he reminded me of Lou “The Toe” Groza.

Skill positions looked pretty good. I was too busy following Mike Hall to find out where DaeSean Hamilton was during the game, and I had to wonder about that. Lewis and Blacknall looked great. I think we’ll be in good shape with receivers this year. Scott and Lynch both look pretty good at RB.

The defense is pretty solid, as usual, and I think the secondary might actually be good this year. Those guys made some plays out there. This is one area that has been a problem for Penn State for a long time. I’m hoping that this group will turn that around.

We’ve had our brief dose of spring football. Now we go into hibernation until late August.

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Driven by some K. John assertions about “tiers” in college football, especially with respect to coaching positions, we’ve had a perennial argument on this blog about what tier Penn State belongs in and why. Obviously, our Nittany Lions are Tier One in all of our hearts, but sometimes our hearts overrule our mental processes. We all have opinions, and as I frequently expostulate, you know what they say about opinions. [Continue reading]