Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M lead massive weekend of spring football games
With several spring games on the schedule, you'll get your football fix this weekend
The busiest weekend of the spring game season brings the college football world some heavy hitters. Michigan, Texas A&M, Ohio State, USC, Florida, Stanford, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Arizona are among the 52 scrimmages on the schedule over a two-day period starting Friday night that will serve as a feast for college football fans from coast to coast starving for some gridiron action., but even more important games are taking place around the country.
What should you keep an eye out for in the games outside of the ACC (which has nine games itself)? Here's a primer.
Date: Friday, April 13 | Time: 10 p.m. ET | Watch: Pac-12 Networks
The Herm Edwards experiment gets going Friday night, and the obvious questions should be applied. Does he know this is not a preseason game against another actual team? Does he know he can use his twos? What will happen when he learns about college football targeting? But jokes aside, it will be fascinating to see how quarterback Manny Wilkins handled the transition, how much of the 2017 offense remains intact, and what changes have been made to a defense that gave up a whopping 6.33 yards per play a year ago. Will the Edwards hire be a home run or a three-pitch strikeout? That question begins to be answered on Friday night.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 11:45 a.m. ET | Watch: Big Ten Network
The defending Big Ten champions will take the field on Saturday with questions abound. But if there's anybody who's earned the benefit of the doubt to plug glaring roster holes throughout his career other than Alabama's Nick Saban, it's Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer. Junior Joe Burrow and sophomore Dwayne Haskins saw action behind J.T. Barrett last year, and redshirt freshman Tate Martell has joined the three-way battle to replace Barrett this spring. The quarterback battle in Columbus is one of the hottest in all of college football, and watching how each handles the biggest state of spring will be worth your time. The defensive front will be as well, as superstar Nick Bosa returns but fellow linemen Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis -- along with linebacker Jerome Baker -- have moved on.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 2 p.m. ET | Watch: Fox Sports Southwest
If there's a game to watch on Saturday, it's at Oklahoma. The Sooners will play an actual game with rosters divided up under Team Adrian Peterson and Team Trent Williams, honoring the two legendary former players. Running back Rodney Anderson and linebacker Caleb Kelly will be on Team Williams along with quarterback Austin Kendall, while quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver Marquise Brown and defensive tackle Amani Bledsoe anchor Team Peterson. There has been no separation between Kendall and Murray in spring practice thus far, so watching how they operate on a big -- albeit it contrived -- stage could actually factor into the decision coach Lincoln Riley will eventually have to make.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: SEC Network
Dan Mullen's first spring as the coach of the Gators culminates on Saturday in the Orange & Blue Debut inside The Swamp. At the top of the list of things to watch is the three-man quarterback battle among redshirt sophomore and returning starter Feleipe Franks, redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask and true freshman early-enrollee Emory Jones. Franks has the experience, but Jones' ability through the air and on the ground fits what Mullen typically likes out of his quarterbacks. and Trask, well, he's been the talk of the spring. It will also be interesting to see how the defense has taken to new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's style. The combination of "Buck" Cece Jefferson and end Jabari Zuniga will be critical to the success of the Gators defense overall, and it'll be fun to see them attack the offensive line on Saturday.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: Pac-12 Networks
With the Coliseum going through some renovations, coach Clay Helton will hold what amounts to an open practice at the track & field stadium on Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Matt Fink completed 6-of-9 passes a year ago and is the front-runner ahead of freshman Jack Sears as spring draws to a close. Will Fink solidify the spot, or will Sears give the staff something to think about prior to fall camp? The bigger -- and more important -- question in L.A. is at running back, where Stephen Carr returns as the leading rusher but has missed spring practice. Has that opened the door for Aca'Cedric Ware or Vavae Malepeai to be the Trojans' starter? We'll have a better idea following Saturday's practice.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Watch: Pac-12 Networks
Sure, the Bryce Love show would be great. But don't expect to see much from the 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist at running back on Saturday afternoon. But with Love, quarterback K.J. Costello and a loaded offensive line entrenched in their positions, the biggest question for coach David Shaw's crew is on the defensive side of the ball. The Cardinal lose three of their top five tacklers including stud defensive lineman Harrison Phillips and lost defensive backs Justin Reid and Quenton Meeks early to the NFL. In the Pac-12, "just enough" defense goes a long way. Stanford needs to find its difference-makers on that side the ball, and Saturday will show just how much progress they've made.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 5 p.m. ET | Watch: SEC Network
The world will get a glimpse of what new coach Jimbo Fisher's vision for the Aggies is on Saturday afternoon, and offensive identity is going to be a critical point. Sure, the quarterback battle between redshirt sophomore Nick Starkel and true sophomore Kellen Mond will be interesting, but observing how Fisher and new coordinator Darrell Dickey will blend Fisher's style with the wide open offense many of these Aggies' players were recruited to run under the old regime. Outside of the offense, it will be fascinating to see how much new defensive coordinator Mike Elko has made an impact on a fast and physical Aggies front seven that has too much talent to be mediocre.
Date: Saturday, April 14 | Time: 8 p.m. ET | Watch: Pac-12 Networks
The Kevin Sumlin era gets cranked up Saturday night in Tucson, and all eyes will be on quarterback Khalil Tate and how he works with the first-year coach. Spoiler alert: He'll be fine, no matter what happens in the spring game. The bigger, more important thing for the Wildcats is if the defense can be consistent enough to keep them in Pac-12 South contention in 2018. Practice reports suggest that the defense has been getting the best of Tate and Co. toward the end of spring practice. If that happens in the spring game, go ahead and write the Wildcats down as legit contenders for the division title in ink. After all, you already know what Tate can do -- and it's spectacular.
Wisconsin and Michigan cancel spring games
If you wanted to get a look at the Big Ten West champion Badgers on Friday night or Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines on Saturday, you're going to be disappointed. The schools announced this week that their scrimmages have been cancelled due to severe weather expected to hit the midwest this weekend. So you'll have to wait to see star Badger running back Jonathan Taylor, quarterback Alex Hornibrook and the new look defense; and that Michigan quarterback battle taking place among Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Shea Patterson will linger a bit longer.
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