Penn State Nittany Lions: Cole Chiappialle

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – James Franklin kept many of his skill players off the field for most of Penn State's annual scrimmage, but there were certainly still other aspects to glean from the game.

Christian Hackenberg played in just three series, and Michael O’Connor took over for the rest of the game for the Blue team. Blue, which consisted mostly of starters, ended up with the 37-0 victory -- some players even tugged the victory bell -- as we learned a few more things about the Nittany Lions:

[+] EnlargeDe'Andre Thompkins
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicPenn State freshman De'Andre Thompkins caught one pass and had a 22-yard rush in the spring game.
1. This is an offense that’s willing to do different things. Bill O’Brien hated the Wildcat. Absolutely loathed it. But fans were treated to quite a bit of it Saturday afternoon. The direct snaps to the tailback actually seemed the most effective, as the longest run in the first quarter -- a 19-yard run by Cole Chiappialle -- came from that formation. Franklin was asked whether he had a new, catchy name for the formation. “Yeah, I think we’re going to go with,” he said, pausing slightly for dramatic effect, “Wildcat.”

In the game’s longest play, wideout Geno Lewis took a reverse and threw a ball to a wide-open Matt Zanellato, who sprinted in untouched for a 56-yard touchdown. Lewis said they didn’t run the play once in practice. But Franklin didn’t mind calling Lewis’ name out of the blue -- and Lewis didn’t mind much, either.

2. The offensive line could really be in trouble. Penn State implemented a running clock from the second quarter on, but the gray-jerseyed offensive line gave up nine sacks. The running game also had trouble taking off in the beginning, as both the Blue and White teams combined for 21 yards on their first 16 carries. At one point, Penn State had 12 completions to 10 punts. And it was 0-for-12 on the first dozen third-down attempts. They fared better in the second half, but there was obviously still cause for concern.

Center Wendy Laurent went down with an injury in the second quarter and did not re-enter the game. The severity of Laurent’s injury is unknown and, with Franklin’s policy to not discuss injuries, clarity probably won’t be lended to the situation anytime soon. Offensive guard Anthony Alosi, who is facing criminal charges, is also "suspended indefinitely," according to Franklin.

3. Penn State could utilize more nickel this season. Minutes after the game, Franklin said the Nittany Lions could often operate under a “star” defense, which is similar to the nickel. Basically, he wants to use two true linebackers and a “big safety.” It’s something Franklin said he and the staff are going to evaluate over the offseason -- and that might be a reason why Von Walker moved to linebacker this spring. Walker could earn a role there, possibly as a backup, and he made a nice play in the third quarter by tipping a pass and then making a critical block once it was intercepted.

Defensive line coach Sean Spencer previously said the defense could use some four-DE looks this season, so fans could see some unique things on this unit. Overall, the defense appears to be in good shape. Franklin praised the defensive line several times this spring, and he said Saturday that it’s certainly a little ahead of the offense right now.

4. Kicking game still needs some work. Sam Ficken missed an extra point and Chris Gulla averaged just 39.2 yards a punt on a dozen punts. Assistant Charles Huff said the return game has shown a lot of improvement since the spring, but that was one area that wasn’t showcased Saturday. During punts, for example, the entire return team consisted of just one player making a fair catch. Penn State’s special teams should still be improved from last season, as there’s nowhere to really go but up. Huff wasn’t sure what happened on the missed extra point. Regardless, the kicking game obviously needs to show consistency.

Meet the run-ons: RB Cole Chiappialle 

February, 14, 2013
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Every weekday, as part of an ongoing series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at a Penn State walk-on.


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Run-ons overview: Offense 

February, 11, 2013
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Here's a list -- complete with film and notes -- on Penn State's offensive run-ons.


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With the Super Bowl just a few hours away, NittanyNation decided to poll some of Penn State's committed run-ons to get their take on the game. We asked for them to give the winner, the score -- and their reasoning.

Overwhelmingly, it appears as if Penn State's preferred walk-ons believe the San Francisco 49ers will win the Super Bowl. And the consensus is by a field goal:
  • WR Gregg Garrity Jr., Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny: 49ers, 27-17. No answer for Kaepernick and not enough weapons for Baltimore. San Fran will shut down Ray Rice, forcing them to pass. Flacco will have a long day.
  • QB Jack Seymour, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor: Ravens, 31-24. I think Flacco is a much better overall quarterback with a really efficient offense that played really well in the past playoff games. He's really stepped up and shown himself to be an elite quarterback. I also picked them because Ray Lewis will carry their defense and is their source of motivation. And he will stop at nothing to win. Ravens all the way! This will be San Francisco's first-ever loss in a Super Bowl!
  • WR Chris Geiss, Malvern (Pa.) Great Valley: 49ers, 27-24. I don't think the Ravens' D can stop the option.
  • OG Evan Galimberti, State College (Pa.): 49ers, 27-13. I just think the defense of the 'Niners is too good and Kaepernick could outrun the Ravens.
  • LS Sean Corcoran, Kankakee (Ill.) Bishop McNamara: 49ers, 27-24. I think their pistol offense is extremely dangerous, and I think their defense will be able to stop Ray Rice to make the Ravens too reliant on the pass game. But I'm still rooting for Corey Graham and Brendon Ayanbadejo on the Ravens because they're former Bears!
  • LB Kyle Searfoss, Lewisberry (Pa.) Red Land: 49ers, 24-17. Their defense is too good, and Colin Kaepernick is too good.
  • S Tom Pancoast, Kennett Square (Pa.) Unionville: 49ers, 24-21. Colin Kaepernick has a big game and wins Super Bowl MVP.
  • K Chris Gulla, Toms River (N.J.) Toms River North: Ravens, 24-21. I'm thinking a little game-winner from Justin Tucker.
  • RB Brian Tomasetti, Scranton (Pa.) Old Forge: Ravens, 24-20. Their defense is too good. Kaepernick is going to get shut down, and I believe Joe Flacco will have the game of his life. Position-by-position, I feel the Ravens are better -- especially at running back with Ray Rice. Also, Ray Lewis will not lose his last game.
  • RB Cole Chiappialle, Beaver Falls (Pa.) Blackhawk: 49ers, 27-24. As a diehard Steelers fan, I will be rooting for the 49ers. No way I will cheer for the Ravens!
  • SB Von Walker, Mill Hall (Pa.) Central Mountain: 49ers, 24-17. Ravens can't stop Gore running or the Kaepernick passing attack.
  • OT Austin Fiedler, Turbotville (Pa.) Warrior Run: No idea. I think the score for each team will be in the high 20s, and it will be very close -- within six points. OK, I don't really know who will win. Both teams have a lot going for them. The Ravens have the bigger fan base, and that will give somewhat of a homefield advantage. But, on the other hand, I think the 49ers are overall a more solid team. I can't wait to watch the game actually, even though I'm not a big NFL fan.

RB Chiappialle runs-on to Penn State 

January, 31, 2013
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When Cole Chiappialle peeled off his yellow helmet after his final high school game, he figured he'd next step foot on a field at a Div. II school.

He figured he'd see scant crowds. He thought maybe he'd play at Cal (Pa.) University or Notre Dame College of Ohio. He wondered if he'd cradle that pigskin as an early starter.

But, more than anything, the tailback out of Beaver Falls (Pa.) Blackhawk thought -- and hoped -- for a bigger opportunity.

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