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Tag:spring practice
Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Keenan Allen to miss spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Cal quarterback Zach Maynard really enjoyed passing to Keenan Allen last season, but he's not going to be able to this spring.

Cal announced in a press release on Wednesday afternoon that the team's leading receiver in 2011, Allen, won't be participating in spring practice this year thanks to an ankly injury. While the release did not go into specifics on Allen's ankle injury, it did say that he'll be undergoing surgery on the ankle on Thursday.

The good news is that head coach Jeff Tedford also said that Allen would "be back for summer workouts and fully recovered for the season."

Of course, while that's good news for Cal, Allen not being around this spring could be bad news for the aforementioned Maynard. After an up-and-down season in 2011, Maynard enters spring practice competing with Zach Kline for the starting quarterback job. Kline is a highly-touted member of Cal's latest recruiting class.

Having a receiver like Allen around, whom Maynard is very comfortable with, would help his chances in the quarterback battle this spring.

Allen led Cal with 98 receptions, 1,343 receiving yards and 6 touchdown catches in 2011 as a sophomore.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 4:43 pm
 

NCAA denies redshirt for Clemson LB Steward

Posted by Chip Patterson

Clemson linebacker Tony Steward had his request for a medical redshirt from the NCAA denied last week, according to Tigers' head coach Dabo Swinney.

Swinney met with the media on Tuesday to discuss several team issues heading into Wednesday's opening of spring practice, and called the NCAA's decision "a shame."

A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Steward was one of the many true freshman to contribute immediately for the Tigers, but his action was cut short by a torn ACL in the fifth game. NCAA rules allow for players to redshirt for medical reason if they had played in 30 percent or fewer of the team's games in a season. While the fifth game put the sophomore linebacker over the limit, the school hoped only playing 36 snaps in those games would result in an exception.

Steward is still recovering from successful knee surgery to repair the damage, and will miss all of Clemson's spring practice. He is expected to be fully cleared to participate in team activities in May.

Another member of that same recruiting class will be returning to practice on Wednesday: sophomore running back Mike Bellamy. Bellamy showed bursts of potential during his freshman campaign, but the on-field time was reportedly limited by off-field conduct and attitude issues.

Bellamy received criticism from the coaching staff during the season, and was suspended indefinitely for violation of a team rule before the ACC title game in December.

"[Bellamy has] been doing OK," Swinney said on Tuesday. "This is a big spring for him."

Starting running back Andre Ellington returns for the Tigers, looking to build on a junior year that saw him collect 1,178 yards despite missing time due to injury. Ellington has had to miss time because of injury in each of his last two seasons, and there should be opportunity for Bellamy to move up to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart this spring.

For more on the Tigers' updates heading into spring practice, check out Travis Sawchik's Tigers RapidReports.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:54 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: USC


Posted by Bryan Fischer


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at USC.

Spring Practice Starts: Wednesday, March 6.

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14.

Returning Starters: Nine on offense, eight on defense and both specialists.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Dealing with expectations.

USC safety T.J. McDonald and quarterback Matt Barkley are easy to tell apart if you see them walking around Heritage Hall or roaming around the Coliseum but they could not be more alike on paper after a remarkable run to close out last season. Both are captains, suit up in the cardinal and gold wearing number seven, each runs half the team and, most importantly to the Trojans in 2012, Barkley and McDonald announced they would return to school for their senior seasons on back-to-back days in late December. After two years without a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, the message both talked about was so clear that it's become the program's unofficial motto as they head into spring practice: unfinished business.

In many ways, this is about where everybody expects USC to be year-in and year-out given the program's history. A No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll to close out 2011 and, with 19 starters returning and a favorable schedule, expectations are running high for the first time since Lane Kiffin took over in Los Angeles.

"I really don't think it's expectations as much as it is being free - we kind of feel like we're being let out of prison," Kiffin said. "It's normal now. It's refreshing not to have the negative distractions. People will talk about expectations and all of that but the good thing is we have practice at dealing with that from our time here before."

USC will likely end up as the preseason No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country and despite scholarship limitations, will bring in ninth-ranked recruiting class with several five-star playmakers to supplement the group that will head out to Howard Jones field. It may be a return to normal with the national spotlight once again on Troy and Heisman candidate Barkley but for this group, it is something new. While the media will certainly be swarming like they did in the good old days and accolades and praise will come early and often, it's worth remembering that from the seniors to the freshman, this team hasn't faced anything like these expectations before. Will they play too loose or be wound too tight? It's something to keep tabs on.

"This is all about going out and preparing really well and practicing hard," Kiffin added. "It has been very refreshing to not deal with so much negativity and distractions, some of which was based on me and some on the sanctions."

2. New staff and new look.

For the first time in the Kiffin-era, the still youthful head coach has had to deal with some staff turnover. While the big stage the program provides has attracted more than it's fair share of coaches looking to boost their resume, the fact that two coaches left so close to spring practice definitely added a question mark or two to the team's outlook. Scottie Hazelton will take over as linebackers coach and was a surprise pick by many but he brings a solid resume that includes being the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State last season as they won the FCS national championship. It's not a flashy hire by any means and it will be interesting to see how Hazelton deals with the level of competition taking a leap but luckily for him he'll have most of last year's linebacking corps back.

USC hasn't had a full-time secondary coach since right before the 2011 season following the sudden departure of Willie Mack Garza due to NCAA issues. Kiffin took his time in landing a replacement but lured Marvin Sanders out West after he had just taken over as FAU's defensive coordinator. Mostly known for his time as Nebraska's secondary coach, Sanders has coached several top NFL draft picks and contributed to some very good Cornhuskers defenses. He'll take over a group that needs some development but is among the deepest on the team, especially at safety.

"It's going to be refreshing to have a spring with all these guys in place," Kiffin said. "There will be some growing pains but we'll be rolling by the time we get to the fall."

The final hire might have drawn the most press given new receivers coach Tee Martin's place in Tennessee lore. Though his group dealt with drops in his final season at Kentucky, Martin is known for being a good recruiter and helped turn Randall Cobb into an All-American the year before. He'll have the best group of wide receivers in the country to work with this spring, led by All-Americans Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to go along with former five-star George Farmer.

3. Line depth.

The biggest question marks surrounding the Trojans are centered on the trenches. Four of the five offensive linemen return but replacing a top three NFL Draft pick in Matt Kalil will be not be easy despite the unit becoming the biggest surprise of the team last year. The interior of the line is the strength with Marcus Martin and John Martinez solid at the guard spots and All-American candidate Khaled Holmes leading the way at center. Kevin Graf will get first shot at replacing Kaili at left tackle while Aundrey Walker will be on the other side. Both played those positions in high school and, with several starts under their belt already, should ease some concerns. Beyond that though, and depth is still an issue until the fall.

The outlook at defensive line is not so rosy, with three starters gone and the Pac-12 leader in sacks impressing everybody at the NFL Combine. Pencil in Wes Horton and Devon Kennard at the end spot but depth behind them and who takes over at tackle will be the reason Ed Orgeron is up late at night (and not just the Red Bull). Those inside the program expect a lot out of sophomore George Uko.

"I'm really looking at seeing how well these tackles, Aundrey and Kevin do," Kiffin said. "I also really want to seeing the continued development of our defense with so much experience coming back and with two new coaches. I really want to be a dominant defensive team like (USC in) '02 or '03. Big five turnover or seven sack games, the type where you have just a suffocating defense."

If the Trojans are going to live up to expectations, figuring things out along the lines will be paramount this spring.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football



Posted by Tom Fornelli


With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.

Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.

In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.

9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.

Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.

8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.

Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?

7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.

As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.

While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.

Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.

4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State

A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.

Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.

We just got used to it.

Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.

Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:13 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Duke



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Duke.

Spring Practice Started: Wednesday, February 22

Spring Game: Saturday, March 31

Three Things To Look For:

1. Making sense of a crowded quarterback position. The Blue Devils return two-year starter Sean Renfree at quarterback. The senior has accumulated 6,325 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career as a Blue Devil, and is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the ACC. But head coach David Cutcliffe also used redshirt sophomores Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone often during the 2011 campaign. Both players are gifted runners and good complements to Renfree, but the pair have not been healthy/activated at the same time for an entire season. Cutcliffe even suggested there is a chance both backups could see snaps together in a game this season. With Sean Schroieder, Rob Collins, Mackenzie Soverign, and early enrollee Thomas Sirk; the Blue Devils have seven quarterbacks on the roster for spring practice.

2. Breakout stars. Duke returns 17 starters from last season, making them one of the more experienced teams in the ACC. But injuries have taken a toll on the Blue Devils during the offseason, and as many as six potential starters will be limited or out for a majority of spring practice. That list includes wide receiver Connor Vernon, who enters his senior year just 843 receiving yards shy of Peter Warrick's ACC record. With so many starters sitting out spring practice, Cutcliffe has encouraged the rest of the roster to "go take somebody's job." There could be a key contributor in the making that shows up this spring, one that could help the Blue Devils get over the hump.

3. Fixing the small mistakes. David Cutcliffe enters his fifth season with a 15-33 record. As News & Observer's Edward G. Robinson points out, that's five more wins than Duke's previous eight seasons combined. But while the improvement might be significant by Duke's standards, the Blue Devils have much higher expectations in 2012.

“We’re hunting another level of play,” Cutcliffe said. “We all know that we’ve played close games. We’ve been in a lot of games since we’ve been here really. Last year, we really did play at another level. And that level is not good enough. We have to make plays that win games. And consistently make plays that win games.”

Eight of Duke's 18 losses over the last two seasons were decided by a touchdown, with three in 2011 by five points or less. A field goal here or a defensive stop there could have put the Blue Devils back in the postseason for the first time since 1995.

To check in on the rest of the ACC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:18 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 3:34 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: TCU



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at TCU.

Spring Practice Starts: Saturday, February 25

Spring Game: Thursday, April 5

Three Things To Look For:

1. Replacing the unexpected losses. Like every team, TCU had losses to deal with on both sides of the ball thanks to graduation, but the recent drug bust on campus through a nasty curveball Gary Patterson's way. Now the TCU defense is without three players it was fully expecting to rely on for 2012 in Tanner Brock, D.J. Yendrey and Devin Johnson. One of the biggest stories this spring will be seeing which of the remaining players on the depth chart rise up to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity.

2. Fixing the secondary. From 2008 to 2010 TCU finished as one of the top 5 defenses in the nation in defensive pass efficiency under coach Chad Glasgow. In 2011 Glasgow left to run the defense at Texas Tech and the Horned Frogs saw their pass defense drop to 65th in the nation. Now Glasgow has returned to his old position, and will look to restore the TCU pass defense to what it was when he was last there. And it couldn't come at a better time for TCU, as you might have noticed that the Big 12 is a conference that enjoys airing it out. 

3. How good can this offense be? TCU's offense finished 9th in the country with 40.8 points per game last season, and while its level of competition may be a touch higher this season, the Big 12 isn't exactly known for smothering defense. With Casey Pachall returning at quarterback, along with his top three receivers from 2010, and it's safe to say that the Horned Frogs passing attack may be terrifying in 2012. Oh, and if it isn't, TCU also has three running backs who rushed for over 700 yards last season returning as well. This could be one of the best offenses in the conference in 2012, and the first signs will be seen this spring.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:32 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Texas



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Texas.

Spring Practice Starts: Thursday, February 23

Spring Game: Sunday, April 1

Three Things To Look For:

1. Who will be quarterback? It's becoming somewhat of an annual tradition in Austin that the Longhorns must have a quarterback competition heading into spring practice. Much like last season, David Ash and Case McCoy will be battling with one another for the starting job, though this year incoming freshman Connor Brewer will join the fray as well. Whichever quarterback ends up winning the job, the Longhorns will be better served to decide sooner rather than later and head into the summer with a clear-cut number one.

2. Expansion of the offensive playbook. Last year Bryan Harsin had to deal with not only implementing a new playbook at Texas, but with two quarterbacks who didn't seem capable of fully utilizing that playbook. This spring we shall see if Harsin and the Longhorns plan on expanding it or further driving the basics home. Obviously, the quicker a quarterback emerges, the more Harsin will be able to do.

3. Can the defense improve? Unlike Harsin, Manny Diaz had a bit more established talent to work with on defense in his first season as defensive coordinator. That being said, Diaz will likely begin implementing new things in his second year as well, which means that a defense that was already the best unit in the Big 12 last season could get even better and more unpredictable in 2012.

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Posted on: February 18, 2012 1:45 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 1:59 pm
 

Pitt HC Paul Chryst realigns offensive staff

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst announced a realignment of his offensive staff on Saturday, naming former Wisconsin tight end's coach Joe Rudolph offensive coordinator.

Chryst announced that former offensive coordinator Bob Bostad has accepted a job with Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bostad also was set to coach the offensive line for the Panthers in 2012, a job that will be filled by tight ends coach Jim Hueber.

“Joe Rudolph and Jim Hueber will be tremendous assets in their new assignments,” Chryst said in a prepared statement. “Joe and I worked closely on the offensive side of the ball at Wisconsin. He has a thorough knowledge of our systems and what we want to achieve offensively.

“Jim has coached some of the finest linemen in the game, pro and college. He is tremendously accomplished as a teacher of offensive line play, and his overall experience as a coach benefits our entire staff and program.”

In addition to serving as offensive coordinator, Rudolph will once again coach the tight ends for Chryst - sliding in after Hueber's move to the offensive line. Chryst still has two positions left to fill on his staff: quarterbacks coach and running backs coach. Former Wisconsin linebackers coach Dave Huxtable will coach the Panthers' defense in the upcoming season.

Pittsburgh is set to open Spring Practice on March 15. Catch up on your favorite team by checking out all the Spring Practice Dates.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com