NCAA Football

Arizona Wildcats Head Coach Rich Rodriguez Let Fans Call Plays at Spring Game

During the Arizona Wildcats' annual spring football game on Friday night, head coach Rich Rodriguez went into the stands and let fans call some goal-line plays, to mixed success.

Suffice it to say, co-offensive coordinators Calvin McGee and Rod Smith likely aren't sweating their job security after the fans' performance as play-callers.

The Wildcats are coming off their best season in 16 years and open their schedule against the University of Texas at San Antonio on September 3. 

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Arizona Wildcats Head Coach Rich Rodriguez Let Fans Call Plays at Spring Game

During the Arizona Wildcats' annual spring football game on Friday night, head coach Rich Rodriguez went into the stands and let fans call some goal-line plays, to mixed success...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

FSU Spring Game 2015: Live Score, Top Performers for Garnet & Gold Game

Gold 17, Garnet 10—Mid 2nd Quarter

The Florida State Seminoles wrap up spring practice Saturday afternoon with the 2015 Garnet & Gold Game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

ESPN3 is streaming the scrimmage. Bleacher Report is providing scoring updates and reaction throughout the spring game. Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

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Georgia Spring Game 2015: G-Day Live Score and Top Performers

Black 14, Red 7 - 2nd Quarter

It's that time of year again. The Georgia Bulldogs have taken the field for the annual G-Day game. It is currently being televised on the SEC-Plus Network.

This game give fans a chance to get a glimpse of what the Bulldogs will look like this fall.  Some players to watch will be Jacob Park, Jake Ganus and Jonathan Ledbetter. 

Be sure to keep this blog open when the game begins for scoring updates and analysis. 

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Ole Miss Spring Game 2015: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

Coach Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels face quite the challenge Saturday at the program's spring game, otherwise known as the Regions Bank Grove Bowl.

There, Freeze will search for at least continuity after a 9-4 campaign last season while hosting a quarterback competition, replacing critical starters on both sides of the football and going toe-to-toe with the injury bug.

After fading down the stretch last season, losing four of its last six games—including the Peach Bowl in 42-3 fashion—this weekend marks the beginning of an attempted return to SEC prominence for Ole Miss.

 

2015 Ole Miss Spring Game 

When: Saturday, April 11 at 12 p.m. ET

Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Live Stream: WatchESPN

 

Preview

As it should, the quarterback battle takes center stage Saturday in Oxford.

Gone is leader Bo Wallace, who completed better than 60 percent of his passes last season and led the major upset of then-No. 3 Alabama in October. His backups, DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan, attempted a combined 42 passes last year.

Conventional wisdom suggests former Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly, who arrived in January, is the favorite for the starting gig. Kelly's mobile in the pocket and can get up the field, which seems to make him a strong fit:

It helps last year he won a title at East Mississippi Community College, throwing for 3,906 yards, 47 touchdowns, eight interceptions and rushing for another 446 yards and four scores on the ground.

Recent reviews from the staff have been nothing short of glowing, as Riley Blevins of The Clarion-Ledger illustrates:

As the above video notes, running back will also come into serious focus Saturday.

The running game figures to take a bigger seat at the table than it has in recent years with inexperience leading the passing game. Jaylen Walton is back in the fold after flashing as an outside runner last year, averaging 5.5 yards per carry with 586 yards and five scores.

While those numbers are solid, Jordan Wilkins carried 52 times for 361 yards and a score, suggesting he can be the between-the-tackles bruiser Freeze wants, making the competition even more interesting.

Of course, neither back will look great if the team doesn't have enough linemen to suit up. Blevins notes the conundrum Freeze faces thanks to injuries across his offensive line:

The Rebels were down to just eight able-bodied blockers at a point this spring, but Freeze said he now has 10 healthy offensive linemen at his disposal – just enough to divide up into two teams.

If any lineman goes down with an injury before Saturday, however, Freeze said the Rebels will scrimmage offense vs. defense instead of splitting into teams.

On the opposite side of the ball, the secondary by far steals the spotlight. 

Freeze's defense ranked No. 1 last year with an average of just 16.0 points allowed per game, but losing corner Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt to the NFL means Freeze's unit has a lot of work to do over the weekend.

In fact, the departure of top talent has created a few shifts to compensate. Trae Elston will move to safety, prompting sophomore C.J. Hampton to man his old spot. A hodgepodge of names such as Tee Shepard, Tony Bridges and sophomore Kendarius Webster will duke it out for playing time lower on the corner depth chart.

No matter which format Saturday's event takes, the key areas of observation are obvious. Freeze wants another elite defense and will get it if his new-look secondary can mesh well.

His offense must run to set up the pass, so the wealth of backs need to also put on a strong showing.

The search for a new identity in Oxford begins Saturday, and rest assured the rest of the SEC will be watching.

 

Info courtesy of OleMissSports.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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SEC Football: Freshmen Making Their Presence Known This Spring

Several freshmen are using spring practice as a springboard to show they've got the goods to be the SEC football stars of the future.

Midterm enrollees across the league are using their first trip to a college football practice forum to prove they belong. Other athletes who weren't quite ready in 2014 are making their marks during redshirt freshman campaigns.

Everywhere, coaches are giving extended looks to players who'll carry their programs into the next four-year cycle. 

As injured or established upperclassmen recover everywhere in the SEC, it's the young guys' turn in the spotlight, and spring is a perfect stage to see who can handle the pressure and who is a year (or more) away.

From offensive skill position players into the trenches and across the line of scrimmage to the defensive backfield, the stars of tomorrow are emerging today.

Let's take a look at some freshmen around the league who are proving they belong in one of the nation's toughest conferences.

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USC Spring Game 2015: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

USC's march to a potential College Football Playoff bid begins Saturday at the Trojans' spring game.

After a 9-4 campaign and a triumph in the Holiday Bowl, coach Steve Sarkisian's Trojans are sanction free and welcome in a recruiting class deep in talent just in time for a serious run.

The 2015 Trojans return 16 starters, chief among them quarterback Cody Kessler. Saturday will prove to be a feeling-out period for key spots, the most important of them being the void left by Leonard Williams' departure to the NFL.

 

2015 USC Spring Game 

When: Saturday, April 11 at 12 p.m. ET

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

TV: Pac-12 Network

Live Stream:  Pac-12.com

 

Preview 

Sarkisian understands his sophomore campaign as Trojans head coach needs to start off on the right foot. Expectations are rampant thanks to the wealth of returning starters and the lack of sanctions holding the team's scholarships back.

"We realize what people's expectations are for the program and we're not going to shy away from them, we're going to embrace them," said Sarkisian, per USCTrojans.com. "That's the reason all of us came to USC, to be the best and to uphold the standards that have been set here."

It starts with Kessler under center. He completed a whopping 69.7 percent of his passes last season for 3,826 yards and 39 touchdowns to five interceptions.

Kessler will hit Saturday's game in search of a new No. 1 wideout with Nelson Agholor (104 catches, 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns) on his way to the NFL. Sophomore JuJu Smith is the name to watch, as he came second behind Agholor last year at 54 grabs for 724 yards and five scores.

As CBS Sports' Aaron Taylor notes, though, drops have peppered Smith's preseason thus far:

It's early, of course, and Saturday is a chance for Smith to round into form—and others behind him such as Darreus Rogers to step up and seize the No. 2 slot.

Of course, Adoree' Jackson, USC's first three-way player since 1997, is also in on the action as a receiver. He's had a nice transition to the defense too, as his main job remains cornerback as of now.

As Michael Lev of the Orange County Register notes, though, how Jackson's time is divvied up Saturday remains anyone's guess:

Cornerback is perhaps the most interesting position of all this weekend not just because of Jackson, but because of new names in the fold. Keep an eye on how the coaching staff decides to use freshman Iman Marshall, among others.

Injury makes linebacker and the defensive trenches an important focal point too.

With senior Anthony Sarao sidelined with a foot injury, inside linebacker Olajuwon Tucker has played with the first team this spring and will get the nod this weekend. He told WeAreSC.com's Greg Katz he appreciates the chance to prove himself (via ESPN.com):

“I feel very blessed and appreciated with the opportunity the coaches have given to me, and me just stepping up and really taking advantage of the opportunity given to me.”

At the least, Tucker's ability to rise to the occasion will give the Trojans more reliable depth and one of its younger linebackers live-game experience should injuries continue to plague the spot.

The problems are even worse in the trenches, as ESPN.com's Johnny Curren documents:

This is probably the hardest unit to get a read on right now. Pelon suffered a shoulder injury late in practice on Saturday, and if it winds up being serious, it will certainly shake things up here. When Pelon went to the sideline, Dorton took his place with the No. 1 group, while also taking reps with the No. 2 unit at nose tackle. Hill, normally a rush end, lined up on the interior at defensive end. Temple has spent the entire spring going with the No. 1 group at nose tackle in place of the injured Antwaun Woods (pectoral muscle).

Replacing the aforementioned Williams and others is no easy task in the first place, let alone when injuries add to the mix. If the Trojans are to improve or remain level there, a hodgepodge of names need to step up in the spring game.

As a whole, Saturday is the first step toward a new beginning for a program with its eyes set on the loftiest of goals. Expect plenty of competition and big plays as two units test one another in preparation for the season.

 

Info courtesy of USCTrojans.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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USC Spring Game 2015: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

USC's march to a potential College Football Playoff bid begins Saturday at the Trojans' spring game. After a 9-4 campaign and a triumph in the Holiday Bowl, coach Steve Sarkisian ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Arizona Football: Biggest Takeaways from Wildcats' 2015 Spring Game

Fresh off its best season in 16 years, Arizona continues to keep its foot on the gas in the quest to become a regular member of college football's elite. Friday night's spring game was just one step in that direction.

The Wildcats ran 100 plays in a glorified scrimmage, with the offensive squad earning a 96-68 win using a modified scoring system that gave points for scores, big plays and defensive stops.

"I saw some good, I saw some ugly, I saw some bad," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said afterward. "We know what we have, and we also know what we don't have."

Last year produced the program's first Pac-12 title of any sort, winning the South Division, then making its first major bowl appearance since 1994. One year does not make for prolonged success, as Arizona has never had back-to-back seasons with 10 or more victories, but the 26 wins the past three years is the most since 1973-75.

"This was definitely a smooth spring for us," senior safety Will Parks said.

Here's a look at what stood out most during Friday's outing, as well as the spring in general:

 

Solomon's improved decision-making

One of the biggest knocks against quarterback Anu Solomon during his freshman year was in the decision-making department, as he'd often hold the ball too long and take a sack—such as on Arizona's final play in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State—or try to force in a throw instead of throwing it away. Other times, Solomon would get too excited and overthrow an open receiver, resulting in a 58 percent completion rate.

The redshirt sophomore looked far more confident on Friday, getting rid of the ball quickly and showing little hesitation when deciding to run or throw. He finished with 175 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-25 passing, adding 20 yards on three carries including a 16-yard run on the scrimmage's first snap.

"He was pretty sharp," Rodriguez said of Solomon, who last season tied the school record with 28 TD passes and had the second-most yards (3,793). "There were a couple of times he probably could've been a little more decisive in his throws, but Anu is a smart guy. He's gotten better and, with a great summer, I think he will be even better this fall."

Solomon admits he still has to work on game management and making correct choices—"it's something that I'm struggling with," he said—but through film study and repetition he expects to continue making progress.

"I think it's been night and day for him," senior receiver David Richards said of Solomon. "He's become a leader out there. He's still learning, but I think he knows it really well."

 

Offensive wrinkles

Arizona ranked 26th in total offense last season, averaging 463.6 yards per game, but it was 85th in red-zone efficiency and only scored touchdowns on 33-of-60 possessions. A lack of diversity in the play-calling near the goal line contributed to this, as the Wildcats' short-yardage offense frequently fell short.

There are no shortage of skill-position players at Arizona's disposal this season, and in the spring game it broke out some looks that hadn't been seen in Arizona Stadium in quite some time. Namely, the use of tight ends.

"We had more catches by a tight end than in the history of Arizona football," Rodriguez joked. "More than even when Gronk (former Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski) was here."

Junior Josh Kern was the main recipient of this emphasis on tight end passing, with five receptions for 31 yards, while sophomore Trevor Wood had a touchdown catch.

Arizona also used receivers Samajie Grant and Tyrell Johnson in the backfield on sweeps and pitches, partly because the Wildcats held top running back Nick Wilson from competition after an injury-plagued freshman year.

"We'll use them a both positions," Rodriguez said.

 

Defense will continue to bend, but break less

Arizona's defense didn't get much praise last year, despite having a player (linebacker Scooby Wright) who won the Bednarik, Lombardi and Nagurski awards last year, because it was 105th in yards allowed and gave up more than 28 points per game. The Wildcats aren't trying to develop a top-10 defense, just one that can make a few plays here and there.

That was the case on Friday, as a rotation made mostly of reserves spent most of its time trying to prevent big gains rather than reverse the field. The lone exception was when redshirt freshman defensive tackle stripped quarterback Brandon Dawkins near midfield, nearly scoring a big-guy touchdown before Dawkins chased him down and popped the ball loose near the 10-yard-line.

The Wildcats return most of its front seven, but a newcomer who figures to have an instant impact is junior college transfer Paul Magloire. Magloire had a game-high nine tackles and should contend for a starting stop on the defensive line.

"I think overall we found some guys that we need to get in the rotation," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully they will work hard this summer and be ready in August."

 

Turn off the play clock

Rodriguez had hoped to run 90 to 100 plays Friday, and they hit the century mark in just over 70 minutes of real time before heading into the stands and turning the play-calling over to the fans. It was about the only time Arizona took its time on offense, averaging between 10 and 12 seconds between snaps.

Last season Arizona ran an FBS-best 1,139 plays, averaging 81.3 per game despite being 119th in time of possession.

"I think we can play faster than we have before," Rodriguez said.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Arizona Football: Biggest Takeaways from Wildcats' 2015 Spring Game

Fresh off its best season in 16 years, Arizona continues to keep its foot on the gas in the quest to become a regular member of college football's elite. Friday night's spring game was just one step in that direction...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Nike Unveils New Mach Speed Uniforms for TCU Horned Frogs for 2015

Thanks to Nike, the TCU football team is going to look like a bunch of Horned Frogs in 2015.

Nike's lastest technology has allowed it to incorporate TCU's Horned Frog pattern into its uniforms. Via Nike, TCU's new Mach Speed uniforms are a "digital evolution of the program's existing lizard skin pattern."

[Nike]

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