Tag:Spring Practice
Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2012 2:58 pm
 

Spring Practice Dates

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Hard to believe but it is indeed time for Spring Practice to begin. It was not too long ago that Alabama hoisted up the crystal ball in New Orleans but as of now, all 120 FBS teams are equal with a 0-0 record and only themselves to face. Here's a list of notable dates for every school this spring and, as they become available on the blog, links to Spring Practice Primers (click here to see them all). Be sure and check out Dennis Dodd's preseason top 25 as well.

Spring Practice Dates
ACC First Practice Spring Game
Boston College February 18
Spring Primer 
March 31
Clemson March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Duke February 22
Spring Primer 
March 31
Florida State March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Georgia Tech March 26 April 20
Maryland March 10
Spring Primer 
April 21
Miami March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
North Carolina March 14
Spring Primer 
April 14
N.C. State March 23 April 21
Virginia March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Virginia Tech March 28 April 21
Wake Forest March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Big East First Practice Spring Game
Cincinnati March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Louisville March 21 April 14
Pittsburgh March 15
Spring Primer 
April 14
Rutgers March 27 April 28
Syracuse March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
Connecticut March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
South Florida March 21 April 2, April 9
Big Ten First Practice Spring Game
Illinois March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Indiana March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Iowa March 24 April 14
Michigan March 17 April 14
Michigan State March 27 April 28
Minnesota March 24 April 21
Nebraska March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Northwestern March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Ohio State March 28 April 21
Penn State March 26 April 21
Purdue March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Wisconsin March 22 April 28
Big 12 First Practice Spring Game
Baylor March 19 April 14
Iowa State March 20 April 14
Kansas March 27 April 28
Kansas State April 4 April 28
Oklahoma March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oklahoma State March 12 April 21
TCU February 25
Spring Primer 
April 5
Texas February 23
Spring Primer
April 1
Texas Tech February 17
Spring Primer
March 24
West Virginia March 11 April 21
Pac-12 First Practice Spring Game
Arizona March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arizona State March 13 April 21
California March 13 None
Colorado March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oregon April 3 April 28
Oregon State April 3 April 28
Stanford March 27
Spring Primer
April 14
UCLA April 3 May 5
USC March 6 April 14
Utah March 21 April 21
Washington April 2 April 28
Washington State March 22 April 21
SEC First Practice Spring Game
Alabama March 9
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arkansas March 14 April 21
Auburn March 21 April 14
Florida
March 14 April 7
Georgia March 20 April 14
Kentucky March 21 April 21
LSU March 1
Spring Primer 
March 31
Mississippi State March 21 April 20
Ole Miss March 23 April 21
Missouri March 6
Spring Primer 
April 14
South Carolina March 12 April 14
Tennessee March 26 April 21
Texas A&M March 31 April 28
Vanderbilt March 16 April 14
Others First Practice Spring Game
Notre Dame March 21 April 21
Boise State March 12
Spring Primer 
April 14
BYU March 5 March 30
Air Force February 24 None
Army February 13 March 9
Navy March 19 April 14

Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Texas Tech



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 Tech.

Spring Practice Starts: Friday, February 17

Spring Game: Saturday, March 24

Three Things To Look For:

1. Finding stability on defense. Texas Tech has gone through a number of different defensive coordinators in recent years, and it's shown on the field. This year it's up to Art Kaufman to revamp a defense that finished eighth in the Big 12 in total defense and ninth in scoring defense in 2011. His job won't be easy, either, as Texas Tech was equally terrible against both the run and pass last season. Fixing all Tech's problems on the defensive side of the ball can't be done in only one year, let alone in a couple weeks of practices, but the foundation to building a new defense must start being built now.

2. Seth Doege must lead the way at quarterback. The Red Raiders come into the spring with only two quarterbacks on scholarship in senior Seth Doege and redshirt freshman Michael Brewer. Which means that this job belongs to Doege, and he will play a large role in how well Texas Tech performs in 2012. Doege was good last year in his first year as a starter, but he does have to work on his decision making. While he can't be blamed for Tech losing 7 of its last 8 games, he did throw 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in Tech's 7 losses. Compare those numbers to the 18 touchdowns and 1 interception Doege threw in Tech's victories. With a year of experience in the offense under his belt, and not having to worry about losing his job, Doege can focus solely on his decision making this spring.

3. Getting healthy. Tech has a bit of a problem this spring with health. All those injuries that helped sink the 2011 season are still impacting the team now, as players like Eric Stephens, DeAndre Washington, Alex Torres, Happiness Osunde, and Chris Yeakey are all still recovering from knee surgeries that were needed following last season. Of course, while these injuries hurt, they'll also provide opportunities for players lower on the depth chart to step up and shine.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

Get CBSSports.com College Football updates on Facebook
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:31 am
 

Sooners center to miss spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that Oklahoma can't escape the injuries that dogged the team throughout 2011.

After missing a large portion of the 2011 season thanks to a broken arm, center Ben Habern had to undergo neck surgery last week. The injury is not considered career-threatening, but neck surgery is never something to be taken lightly, and Habern will miss spring practice because of it.

The good news for Oklahoma is that the team is prepared to deal with Habern's absence since it already dealt with it through most of the year. Gabe Ikard will once again slide over from guard to center while Adam Shead will get more playing time at guard during the spring.

Unfortunately for the Sooners, Habern won't be the only player missing spring practice.

Dominique Whaley, who missed the last half of the season after breaking his ankle in October, will not be back this spring. He continues to recover from the injury and the team does expect him back in time to practice in August.

Then there's receiver Jaz Reynolds who suffered a kidney injury late in the year. The team isn't sure whether or not he'll be ready to participate with them this spring.

Oklahoma's spring practice begins on March 5th.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

Get CBSSports.com College Football updates on Facebook  
Posted on: May 2, 2011 6:13 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 6:19 pm
 

What I learned this spring: ACC Atlantic

Posted by Chip Patterson

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the ACC Atlantic Division.

BOSTON COLLEGE: One of the things that became increasingly evident this spring was how much the Eagles have riding on running back Montel Harris going into the 2011 season. Harris tore his lateral meniscus in Boston College's ACC finale against Virginia and missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery. Even missing the last game, Harris finished second in the ACC with 1,242 yards. After one carry in Boston College's spring game (which really is more of an offense-defense scrimmage), Harris was taken out for "precautionary measures."

All spring, the Eagles' foremost concern has been the health of their prized running back, as it should be. Boston College's muddled quarterback situation does not provide a whole lot of confidence in the passing game. Chase Rettig has likely emerged spring as the starter, taking significantly more reps near the end of the practice than Dave Shinskie, and Mike Marscovetra. Rettig emerged as a freshman in 2010 and finished the season as the starter. But his 6 touchdowns to 9 interceptions on the season hardly secured him the gig for 2011. But after completing 20-of-29 passes for 182 yards in the spring game, popular belief is that Rettig will be the starter in the fall. Boston College's greatest asset still is their defense, which will be highlighted once again by Kevin Pierre Louis and Luke Kuechly, who was recently got named to the Lott Trophy Watch list.

CLEMSON: With Kyle Parker off with the Colorado Rockies for good, this spring was the time for former backup Tajh Boyd to take command of this team. The obstacle he faced heading into practice was doing it with a brand new offensive coordinator. Since taking over under Todd Morris' new system Boyd has been consistent in his effort and leadership, just inconsistent on performance. In the Tigers' spring game Boyd looked out of rhythm with his receivers, completing only 8 of 24 passes for 114 yards. Head coach Dabo Swinney hopes that Boyd will be pushed by backup quarterback Cole Stoudt, but Boyd has been the man in charge of Morris' new offense - which is reportedly only about 60% installed.

The new up-tempo offense could benefit the Tigers in the ACC, particularly with the athletes they have at the skill positions. If the spring game was any measure, Clemson should see a significant increase in their play count per game. The scheme has proven to put up big numbers, but it relies about as evenly on the run game as the passing game. Luckily the Tigers are well equipped at running back. Andre Ellington returns after collecting 686 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games of action before suffering a season-ending toe injury. Sitting out of spring drills, Clemson fans got a good look at his backups and - what should be - a very deep running back position. Demont Buice (18 carries, 102 yards), Roderick McDowell (12 carries, 100 yards), and D.J. Howard (11 carries, 97 yards) all had strong showings in the spring game and should make for an interesting competition once camp opens in the fall. Defensively one big surprise was the emergence of Corey Crawford. The 6-5, 275-pound early enrollee has raised eyebrows all spring, and figures to already be a part of the defensive end rotation in the fall. Wearing Da'Quan Bowers' No. 93, Crawford appears to be taking the responsibility of upholding the legacy of Bowers and the late Gaines Adams.

FLORIDA STATE: Without a doubt, the Seminoles exit the spring as a favorite to repeat as Atlantic Division Champions in 2011. With the talent returning from last year's squad and the rise of junior quarterback E.J. Manuel, head coach Jimbo Fisher has Tallahassee buzzing once again about brining the ACC title home to where it started. Florida State won in the inaugural ACC title game in 2005, and the closest they have come since then was last year's 44-33 defeat to Virginia Tech.

The hype set the bar high, but spring practice posed a different set of challenges for Fisher and his staff. The Seminoles had seven starters miss practice due to injury, so the coaches used much of the spring to sort out depth issues. The offensive line is a bit of a concern for Fisher, as they have had to do some shuffling in order to fill out the line and establish some depth. The coaches were pleased with Manuel's spring as a whole, but the junior quarterback struggled in Florida State's well-attended spring game. Fisher has said that he is mostly concerned with Manuel's development as a leader at this point, and did not seem to think much of his spring game outing.

"He was frustrated but I got more out of him today because we struggled and he didn't have a good day," Fisher said following the game. "At the end of the day we had a chance to make plays and we made a few plays."

Many of the injuries were on the defensive end, but with all of those players getting back to 100% before training camp it should not play a major factor in the Seminoles' readiness for the season. If there is any "red-flag" from spring practice it would be a fear of complacency. There were several early practices that led Fisher to criticize his team's speed and toughness. Florida State cannot afford to be slow-starting in 2011 if they truly plan on competing for a National Championship. With Oklahoma visiting Tallahassee on Sept. 13, the Seminoles need to be competing in midseason form from the first day of camp. If Florida State is "going through the motions" at the beginning of the season, the Sooners will be a rude wake-up call after Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern.
 
MARYLAND:
There will be no surprises this year with sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien. After being named the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year, O'Brien's development has not been slowed due to the coaching changes at Maryland. In fact, the new system installed by former LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has the players feeling like there could be even more passing in 2011. O'Brien took advantage of the vanilla scrimmage coverages in the spring game, completing 16 of 23 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns. New head coach Randy Edsall is very excited about the rotation of wide receivers taking shape, with Ronnie Tyler, Kevin Dorsey, and Quintin McCree all having strong springs.

With defensive coordinator Don Brown leaving to take the position at Connecticut, Maryland's defense has spent most of the spring trying to learn a new system. Edsall promoted assistant coach Todd Bradford to the position in mid-February, and the newness of the change seems to still be setting in for the players. Brown's system carried lots of blitzing packages and multiple looks, the players say Bradford's relies more on coverage responsibility. Maryland's defense is experienced, but they are still a little slow getting on the same page at this point.
 
NC STATE:
What I learned this spring is that head coach Tom O'Brien's word at N.C. State is firm and unwavering. O'Brien told Russell Wilson that if he wanted to be the starting quarterback in 2011 he needed to stay with the team instead of playing minor league baseball in the offseason. Even when Wilson, an All-ACC quarterback and 2010 Champs Sports Bowl MVP, asked O'Brien if he could return in August - O'Brien said no. So now the reigns are officially in the hands of Mike Glennon, the highly-recruited younger brother of former Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon. Glennon, a redshirt junior, checks out on paper as a strong candidate for the Wolfpack starting job. The only thing that he lacks is actual game experience. The problem is that with Wilson's departure to continue football elsewhere (as opposed to sticking with professional baseball) will have an effect on the fan base's expectations from Glennon. Glennon did not have a great outing in N.C. State's shortened spring game (inclement weather), and it will be important for his confidence to get some early wins in the fall.

N.C. State lost leading rusher Mustafa Greene to injury during spring practice, but he is expected to be back in time for fall practice. Greene emerged as the answer to one of the big question marks in 2010, and he will be leaned on to help Glennon get comfortable in the starting position. This year it has been the wide receiver position that was not addressed this spring, as T.J. Graham leads a crop of wideouts that lack experience in game situations. Wolfpack fans are hoping for another Greene-type situation out of the position next fall. The linebacking corps will be strong point once again for N.C. State, led by Terrell Manning and Audi Cole. Cole moves over to Nate Irving's position of middle linebacker, and while the transition has not been easy the coaching staff seems pleased with his progress and potential heading into the new season.
 
WAKE FOREST:
We knew that Wake Forest had a long way to go to improve on last year's frustrating 3-9 season. With spring practice in the books, the Demon Deacons still are a ways away from the squad that was competing among the ACC elite a half-decade ago. Head coach Jim Grobe often mentioned how inexperience played a factor in 2010's struggles, with the Deacons having to start several freshman (especially on the defensive end) throughout the season.

"I think last year we were a soft group of freshmen, and now we're just a crusty group of sophomores,"Grobe told the Winston-Salem Journal. "I know coaches are worried about playing too many sophomores but for me, we're light years ahead of where we were last year with these guys."

Offensively, the Deacons will hope to get running back Josh Harris going behind a more experienced offensive line. The talented sophomore broke out against Virginia Tech (20 carries, 241 yards, two touchdowns) and in the season finale against Vanderbilt (18 carries, 138 yards, one touchdown). But inconsistent production during the regular season have left Wake Forest fans looking for more out of the running back from Duncanville, TX. Harris led all rushers in the spring game with 85 yards, but missed many of the workouts due to injury. If Harris can't get the ground game going there will be a lot of pressure on quarterback Tanner Price to make plays with his wide receivers, which doesn't appear very threatening at this point.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:49 pm
 

What I Learned This Spring: SEC East

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC East, team by team. In alphabetical order:


FLORIDA: When spring began, we said the Gators might have the most interesting offense in the country. Urban Meyer's former spread-option death machine, destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up, by none other than Charlie Weis, in the image of the steady no-frills pro-style attacks Will Muschamp saw work for old boss Nick Saban, as piloted by 2011-or-bust quarterback John Brantley? That's quite the storyline they've got going there.

But the Gators will have to hope it's a story that will be rewritten come the fall. While no one was expecting the offense to look like Weis's old New England Patriot attacks after three weeks of practice, no one was expecting it to put on a 13-10 spring game universally panned as a hideous eyesore, either. Brantley went an ugly 4-of-14 after missing his first six passes, the leading rusher was a walk-on defensive back, and the entire offensive output for the game amounted to 340 yards.

Much of that can be pinned on a wicked rash of injuries that took out most of the offensive line, an entire stable of running backs, multiple receivers, etc.; encouragingly, much of it can also be pinned on a rampaging defensive line led by Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, all members of Meyer's loaded 2010 class and all looking posied to make good on their five-star hype. But the bottom line is that much of it can also be pinned squarely on Brantley, who Muschamp and his other coaches universally lauded for an excellent spring but who showed little of that alleged improvement when playing in public.

Does it matter? Give him a solid summer and a solid fall camp, and it may not. But until Brantley proves he's something other than what he's appeared to be since the moment Tim Tebow left -- in over his head -- skepticism is in order.

GEORGIA: The biggest question entering the most critical spring of Mark Richt's spring tenure concerned the Bulldogs' biggest players: could their offensive line bounce back? When you have Aaron Murray, Orson Charles, a fleet of talented (if still unproven) receivers, and eventually Isaiah Crowell, if you have a line, you're going to have a heck of an offense.

There was good news and bad news on that front, the latter a devastating torn ACL suffered by fifth-senior and projected starting tackle Trinton Sturdivant. But there were positives, too, namely a terrific spring from potential All-SEC  center Ben Jones and guard-to-tackle position switch Cordy Glenn. G-day primary tailbacks Ken Malcome and Caleb King combined for 69 yards on 12 carries, a not-so-shabby 5.8 yards per-carry. Overall, the line was impressive enough this spring that senior Justin Anderson -- billed as a potential starter on the OL -- has been moved to defense.

The Dawgs had themselves a fine spring on the defensive front as well, with newly bulked-up nose tackle Kwame Geathers the talk of the Bulldogs' spring camp and converted safety Alec Ogletree providing a big boost the linebacking corps. The secondary is unsettled and one of those aforementioned receivers needs to emerge as a go-to target for Murray, but if the improvements in the front seven and offensive line aren't mirages, the Bulldogs wil be back in the thick of the East race all the same.

KENTUCKY: Consider it a successful second spring for Joker Phillips and the Wildcats. We noted that with nearly all of the major players from 2010's surprisingly effective Wildcat passing game gone, Phillips would want to make rebuilding that passing attack around junior quarterback Morgan Newton priority No. 1 in spring camp. And though we'll have to wait until fall to see the finished results, for now it looks like Mission Accomplished: Newton had a terrific spring, capped by a 23-of-44, 256-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Wildcats' Blue-White Game.

Things weren't perfect: the Wildcat receivers were plagued by drops, and a defense still adjusting to new co-coordinator Rick Minter's aggressive schemes paired several big plays with several breakdowns. But with Newton cementing himself as a reliable option under center and a veteran line paving the way for new tailback Raymond Sanders to average better than 7 yards a carry, there's far more optimism for the Wildcat offense coming out of spring than going in.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Whatever storyline you might have constructed ahead of time for the Gamecocks' spring, it was always going to overshadowed by the continuing Stephen Garcia circus. Until Carolina receives a definitive word one way or the other on Garcia's return (though as we wrote earlier today, that return seems likely), the team is going to be in something close to suspended football animation.  The lack of developments aside from Garcia was only enhanced by the fact that so many of Carolina's key players -- Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, an offensive line with four returning starters -- are known commodities.

That said, the Garnet-Black Game showed that if Garcia doesn't come back, the Gamecocks won't be totally lost at quarterback. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined to go a productive 23-of-40 for 344 yards (though Thompson threw a pair of picks), and on an offense with weapons like Lattimore, Jeffery, and tailback Kenny Miles (43 yards on just 6 carries in the spring game), "productive" should be enough.

The downside: those passing numbers came against a Gamecock secondary that got routinely torched in 2010 (FBS 97th in pass defense). Garcia or no Garcia, more improvement in that secondary will be necessary to take Carolina back to Atlanta.

TENNESSEE: Entering spring, the road to improvement for the Volunteers was clear: get stronger, more physical, better along each line of scrimmage, then let the Vols' cadre of up-and-coming skill position stars -- led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray -- do the rest.

The Vols made plenty of headway on the first part of that equation; the White team earned a dominant victory over the more starter-heavy Orange in the Vol spring game thanks in no small part to a bruising run game led by second-string tailback Raijon Neal; defensive linemen on both squads were able to get consistent quarterback pressure; and offensive lineman Alex Bullard and defensive tackle Daniel Hood won the team's top awards for spring performance. Both lines remain so young that there's still a long way to go to SEC dominance, but it seems unlikely they'll be pushed around the way they were at times in 2010, either.

But as for the other part of the equation, stay tuned. Bray went a miserable 5-for-30 quarterbacking the defeated Orange side, with Derek Dooley suggesting afterwards that perhaps Bray had been overconfident. Bray is expected to take a major step forward in his first full season as the Vols' starter, but if that step winds up as minor as the spring game proposes it might be, all the line improvement in the world won't push the Vols back into relevance in the SEC East.

VANDERBILT: When you finished last season dead last in the conference in both total offense and total defense -- and you are Vanderbilt -- any kind of improvement in any area will be music to new coach James Franklin's ears. But fortunately for the 'Dores, they saw some green shoots in two positions that have been partocularly troublesome the past few seasons.

One is quarterback , where previously scattershot senior Larry Smith completed 16-of-26 for 233 yards and a touchdown, leading his Black side to a 19-7 win over the Gold. The other is the defensive line , where defensive tackle Colt Nichter recorded a pair of sacks and defensive end Kyle Woestmann collected a sack and an interception. But when you're Vandy, you'll take whatever you can get.

"The big thing," Franklin said, "is that we stayed healthy."

For the same review of the SEC West, click here.

Posted on: April 23, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2011 10:38 pm
 

Despite injuries, USC ends Spring on a high note

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- It's hard to take away too much from Spring Games. Sometimes they're designed to make the offense look good or feature a certain player. Often enough they're too vanilla and are limited to a handful of big plays. Given the injuries that USC has sustained this spring, it's hard to take away much of anything.

Despite limited action for several starters, there were a few bright spots here and there for the Trojans as they wrapped up their Spring Game at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

“Well, I thought the storyline of the day would be, if this were a real game, the play of the first-team defense, especially early on before we took some guys out," Lane Kiffin said. "The two defensive ends played extremely well today, (along with) T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey. That was good to see."

The receiving corps was particularly banged up for the Trojans, who mostly had walk-ons running routes for a bevy of quarterbacks. Freshman All-American wide receiver Robert Woods did not play after spraining his ankle playing basketball, which Kiffin subsequently declared off limits before a game in the future. Brandon Carswell left the game with a concussion and tight end Rhett Ellison also went down with a back injury.

Quarterback Matt Barkley had his moments but finished a pedestrian 22 of 42 for 212 yards and two interceptions as a result of a lack of options in the passing game.

“I think it’s hard to evaluate,” Kiffin quipped of Barkley. “You guys (the media) probably had to go to your rosters a lot to know who the guys were out there who were running routes for him.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do on offense. It is hard to assess with so many people out for all of spring and so many people coming in that are going to have to play for us. It’s really hard to address where we’re at and figure it out.”

Quarterback Jesse Scroggins was 6-of-15 for 68 yards and had one interception while Cody Kessler went 4-of-6 for 24 yards. Both quarterbacks, along with Max Wittek, are looking to backup Barkley in the fall. Luckily the ground game seemed to be moving the chains on offense a bit more effectively. Running back D.J. Morgan rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries before coming out with injury but displayed the ability to turn the corner and then hit the jets on a nifty 36 yard run. Curtis McNeal also looked good and had 107 yards and two touchdowns on the day.

“The O-line pretty much stepped their game up today,” McNeal said. “They took so much criticism throughout the whole spring and today just came out and played. I just did my part and ran the ball.”

After being criticized much of last year, the defense showed flashes of old and played well throughout the day. They ended up "winning" the game 42-29 using a modified scoring system.

“The D is playing faster,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. “Second year in the system, knowing it better. You see this, you see that."

Defensive end Nick Perry was a constant presence in the backfield and finished up with six tackles and two sacks. Cornerback Anthony Brown (who had an interception) and safety McDonald looked sharp in the secondary. In fact, the defense as a whole might have done even better had they been allowed to blitz.

“It may not have been my decision," the elder Kiffin said. "It might have been somebody, a guy with the last name Kiffin.”

With blitzes and several starters out for the Trojans, it's still hard to get a good read on what kind of team the Kiffins will have once the calendar turns to August. Ask them and they'll tell you the same thing. 

Thanks to the creativity of Lane Kiffin though, perhaps it's fitting that USC ended their spring game - and spring practices - on a high note thanks to a reverse pass from tailback Dillon Baxter to Barkley for a touchdown.

"To finish off the Spring Game with a touchdown catch was a good feeling," Barkley said. "He haven't gone over it at all. Kiff just said let's do this. It was man coverage so it was a pretty easy play."

USC might need a lot of improvising in the fall if the injury issue continues to arise. They can only hope they all will end up as high notes.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 4:55 pm
 

What I Learned This Spring: SEC West

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC West, team by team. In alphabetical order:

ALABAMA: The two big headlines for Tide fans this spring were the quarterback battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims (pictured), and the unveiling of the new Nick Saban statue added to those of the school's first three national title-winning head coaches. As our own Dennis Dodd reported (and as you can hear for yourself in the reverent tone of this student news broadcast), the statue left the Tide faithful plenty satisfied; the quarterback battle, not so much, as neither McCarron nor Sims was able to create any real separation from the other. (How close were they? At A-Day, McCarron went 21-of-38 for 222 yards and one interception, Sims 19-of-38 for 229 yards and an interception.)

But as we pointed out in our Tide spring primer, who's at the reins of the offense isn't nearly as important as whether the offense can remain productive without Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, et al. With Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower each looking like terrors this spring in the linebacking unit and All-American safety Mark Barron showing few ill effects of his postseason pectoral muscle surgery (he returned a fumble 96 yards for a score at A-Day), the defense looks poised to live up the "best in the nation, or damn close" expectations. All the offense has to do is not screw things up, and the running game -- behind Trent Richardson, a dynamo on A-Day with 167 all-purpose yards, and a loaded line with former five-star right tackle D.J. Fluker beginning to fulfill his vast potential -- appeared ready to do the job nearly by itself.

The Tide still haven't found what looks like a go-to receiver in the wake of Jones' departure (Richardson led both sides in receptions and yards at A-Day), and the McCarron/Sims derby could be a distraction lasting well into the fall. But given the help either one will receive from the running game (and line) on display Saturday, none of that might matter.

ARKANSAS: The big question before spring started was simply "can the Hogs handle losing Ryan Mallett?" And though the Red-White game certainly isn't a guarantee, it's definitely an arrow pointed in the direction of "goodness, yes." Likely new quarterback Tyler Wilson averaged 9.7 yards per his 25 attempts, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His receiving corps -- on paper, the SEC's best, hands-down -- lived up to its billing, with Jarius Wright hauling in five balls for 157 yards and two scores. The White team defense had its moments, too, holding All-SEC candidate Knile Davis to just 44 yards on 16 carries.

The Hogs' spring wasn't perfect -- backup tailback Broderick Green went down for the year with an ACL tear -- and Bobby Petrino hasn't even officially named Wilson the starter yet. But with the quarterback position looking solid and the defense boasting its best spring in years, the loss of Mallett sure hasn't put much of a dent in the Hogs' new position as West challengers just yet.

AUBURN: The Tigers entered the spring looking for playmakers to fill at least part of the colossal void left by Cam Newton's and Nick Fairley's departures. And at defensive end, they may have found some; sophomores Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae both drew positive reviews throughout the spring, and previously little-used junior Dee Ford burst into the rotation with a big camp and a pair of sacks at Auburn's A-Day game. New line coach Mike Pelton said he was impressed by -- and would use -- all three this fall.

The rest of the defense didn't have a shabby A-Day, either, as they defeated the offense 63-32 in Gene Chizik's unique scrimmage scoring system. But most of the offense's efforts went towards polishing up the passing attack (tailbacks Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combined for just seven carries), and those efforts didn't yield much in terms in terms of finding big-play potential. Tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen (pictured) won MVP honors for his 65 yards receiving and catching the lone touchdown of the scrimmage, and DeAngelo Benton added one 48-yard reception. But otherwise, offensive excitement was hard to come by, and Chizik afterwards called the quarterbacking from Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley "inconsistent." (The two will compete for the starting job into the fall.)

Under Chizik, Auburn hasn't made much of an effort to put on a show in their spring game -- the reviews on Newton's debut in the 2010 version were universally ho-hum -- but there still seems little doubt Gus Malzahn will look for much more explosiveness out of his attack come fall camp.

LSU: It's the same old story on the bayou. The Tigers entered spring hoping to finally put their quarterbacking issues to rest behind someone, be it incumbent starter Jordan Jefferson or someone else ... and left it with Jefferson still the starter and still on less-than-firm ground after an ugly 4-of-14, no touchdowns, one interception performance.

Well, less-than-firm ground with the LSU fanbase , anyway. Bayou Bengal supporters seem to have universally pinned their hopes on JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger, despite Mettenberger being mired at third on the depth chart entering the spring game. But you can't blame them when Jefferson struggled the way he did, Jarrett Lee averaged all of 4.5 yards per-attempt (with a pick, of course) and Mettenberger did this:
 


None of that made any difference to Les Miles and the LSU staff, who gave Jefferson the team's "Jim Taylor Award" for his spring effort and leadership. And quarterback or no quarterback, LSU showed how formidable they'd be all the same: Spencer Ware followed up his breakout Cotton Bowl performance with a huge spring, the secondary looks as airtight as ever even without Patrick Peterson, and there's plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball.

But unless Jefferson lives up to his coaches' faith in him -- and that spring game performance did little to assure anyone he will -- LSU's still going to have some headaches.

MISSISSIPPI STATE, OLE MISS: Despite their wildly divergent 2010 seasons, the question for both Mississippi schools was the same entering the spring: how would their defenses fare after losing several major contributors from last year?

In Oxford, that question was all the more important for last year's defense having been such a disappointment in the first place. And it got even harder to answer mid-spring when potentially the unit's best player, linebacker D.J. Shackelford, was lost for the year with an ACL tear. The Rebel defense had a successful spring game all the same, holding the two offenses to just 27 total points and scoring seven of their own on an Ivan Nicholas interception return. But coming against a Rebel offense in flux after seeing former JUCO Randall Mackey ascend to the likely starter's job (and former favorite Nathan Stanley leave the program), the jury will remain out despite the positive signs.

Up the road in Starkville, the news seemed more unambiguously positive: Dan Mullen said his defensive line "dominated" the Marron-White Game, producing 11 tackles-for-loss. The Bulldogs already seemed happy with their new linebackers, and that was before redshirt freshman Ferlando Bohanna blew up for eight tackles and a pair of sacks in the spring game. The secondary may remain a work-in-progress (State quarterbacks, including backup Dylan "Yes, That" Favre, combined to average a healthy 7.8 yards per-attempt), but the front seven looks like it shouldn't take too big a step back.

We'll cover the SEC East next week once the slowpokes at Kentucky hold their spring game this weekend.


Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:06 pm
 

Va. Tech WR Danny Coale competing for punter

Posted by Chip Patterson

There have been several reasons to keep your eye on spring practice in Blacksburg.  The defending ACC Champions have been adjusting to live without Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, with touted signal-caller Logan Thomas getting adjusted to the new position.  You have the storyline of the explosive David Wilson assuming a running back position that was shared for most of the 2010 season.  You have a defense that will be looking to reload and bounce back from a season that was uncharacteristic at times for the Bud Foster era.

But what about the search for a starting punter?

The open compeition on the special teams unit includes Scott Demler, Ethan Keyserling, Grant Bowden, Connor Goulding, and starting wide receiver Danny Coale.

Coale broke out last season for the Hokies, finishing second on the team in receptions and receiving yards.  But with the position open, Coale has expressed serious interest in getting back into the kicking game.

"I was just kind of thinking to myself there wasn't a set punter," Coale said. "There has been (a set punter in the spring for Tech) in the past. I've punted in the past and I really enjoy it. Punting is something I love. I've done it since I was little. My dad taught me how to do it, so once I kind of realized there's an opportunity, I wanted to try it and give it a shot. It's been a lot of fun. Hopefully, I'll be able to do it at some point. I don't know."

For three seasons at Episcopal High School, Coale took care of both the kicking and punting as well as being the primary return man for both.  Coale may not be the primary man for the job, but he has just as much college punting experience as the rest of the compeittion (none).  He has always fooled around punting before practices, but this spring is the first time he has taken the opportunity seriously.  

"Everybody asks if I'm serious, and I am," said Coale explained recently. "I'm completely serious. I don't know if I need to get a punting shoe or what I need to do to let everybody know I'm serious. Maybe the one-bar (helmet cage design) across the front."

I don't think that adding Coale to that aspect of special teams will have any "Beamer Ball" mystique, though it doesn't hurt to have that talent stuffed away on your roster.  Coale may be serious, but he is obviously utilizing this opportunity to have a bit of fun as well.  As a senior, Coale will need to be one of the leaders of a young offense - as well as a big play threat for Logan Thomas.  Last season Coale stepped up down the stretch for the Hokies, pulling in a 40+ yard reception in 4 of the final 5 games.  When things get tough for the first-time starter, he will need Coale to get out of tough spots.  

If he can't, then Coale might have to stay on the field to punt.  Not exactly the "win-win" Frank Beamer is looking for if you ask me.   
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com