Florida State will finish up spring camp with its annual Garnet and Gold Game on Saturday afternoon. The intrasquad exhibition will broadcast live at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN's flagship channel because...well, this is college football in the year 2014.
Fresh off a BCS National Championship—the last BCS National Championship—in 2013-14, Seminoles stars such as Jameis Winston, Rashad Greene, Cameron Erving, Mario Edwards, Nate Andrews and Jalen Ramsey will take the field before public eyes for the first time since beating Auburn on a last-minute touchdown, 34-31.
However, the long list of players absent from last year's team is just as troubling as the list of returnees is encouraging. FSU dealt with a similar NFL exodus after 2012, which is reassuring, but there are still questions to answer up and down the depth chart.
Will Saturday provide an answer to all those questions? Of course not. Injuries to key young players and the impending arrival of 247Sports' No. 4 recruiting class make fall camp a pivotal exercise; the spring game is more about digging for clues than actually solving problems.
But it should still be a whole mess of fun.
For Georgia football fans in desperate need of gridiron action, this Saturday's spring game is as good as it gets—at least until August.
While the annual G-Day game always offers a respite for those who are tired of the long, monotonous offseason, this year's battle between the red and the black teams is particularly compelling thanks in no small part to a few vital changes.
New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and his new staff of assistants have renovated the defense, while the offense prepares to enter its first season since 2009 without Aaron Murray under center.
With changes brewing in Athens, here is everything you need to know about the Georgia Bulldogs' spring game.
The crowd was anxious, the pressure mounting as a human wall enclosed the scene. It all came down to one short field goal, a chip shot by most kickers’ standards. The snap was low—but good enough—and the holder quickly inverted the football and placed it on the ground, just like he has done a thousand times before.
All eyes then turned to the kicker, undersized and inexperienced.
As the approach toward the ball began, there was silence. Only the thumping base and the faint sound of music could be heard in the background. And that’s when Nicki Meyer—the daughter of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer—sent her kick sailing past Ohio State’s mascot, Brutus the Buckeye, whose cartoonish large hands came just short of YouTube greatness.
While the kick was off course, Brutus’ redemption from last season’s spring embarrassment would have to wait for another year.
This was the scene at Ohio State on April 5 for the third annual Student Appreciation Practice, where approximately 2,500 Ohio State fans attended, according to the school. There was actual football sprinkled in, of course, but this day—in large part—was constructed for the fans.
Some attendees got to race players, while others showed up for signatures. Others—including Nicki Meyer—even attempted a field goal with the Buckeye team. The scene was strange, unnecessary and absolutely magnificent.
The fact that a major football program took time out of an integral part of its limited interaction with players is telling. It's also good for the average fan. And thankfully, such hands-on spring opportunities are now becoming protocol and will only continue to evolve.
Ohio State has bridged the gap between team and fans by opening up its doors for a day. Others, like Georgia, are allowing one lucky fan to draw up his or her very own offensive play for its spring football game.
If you’ve wanted to embrace your inner Art Briles from your couch with your son or daughter’s colored pencils, the Bulldogs are giving you that chance. And if it’s good enough, it might just go from concept to creation in one of the SEC’s biggest offseason scrimmages.
Bulldog Nation, you can call a play for UGA. Email a diagram of your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org & we'll pick the best to run at G-Day!— John Lilly (@JohnLillyUGA) April 9, 2014
One play not enough? Well, how about something more. How about getting paid to kick a 50-yard field goal or out-throw a college quarterback? (Reconstructive shoulder surgery and meniscus operations are NOT included, at least as far as we know.)
That’s what Arizona is offering at its spring game, which means it’s time to bust out the Sambas and give it a go.April 11, 2014
Still not good enough? Well, then this is probably right up your alley. How would you like to take over the head coaching reins at a major program for an entire day?
You can, if you’re the highest bidder on eBay.
Arkansas State and the Red Wolves Foundation are currently offering this possibility to the individual who comes out on top of this lovely eBay listing. As outlined in the description on the page, your experience will include the following:
· Head Coach for the game on Friday, April 18.
· Give the pregame and halftime talk.
· You choose whether your team 'goes for it' or punts on 4th down.
· You get to call for the deep ball, trick play, run or pass, blitz, etc.
· On headset with the staff throughout the entire game.
· Winning Coach will receive a Powerade bath (and bragging rights)!
· Photos of your Coaching Experience.
· Coaching Gear.
Admit it. You’ve always wanted to enjoy the shocking chill of a sports drink being dumped on your head in large amounts by players who are contractually obligated to call you “Coach” for a few hours.
Haven’t we all.
While most teams have yet to take it as far as Arkansas State has, some—including Ohio State, Georgia and others—are pushing this involvement further. They’re doing so because many teams do care about appealing to their fanbases, but it’s also good for business.
If you’re a major program, this is a no-brainer. While the limited practice hours are vital for player development and system familiarity, improving the relationship with your fans can have benefits beyond those benefiting directly from what you’re offering.
It garners attention—like this article you’re reading right now—and the countless other blog posts that were made to highlight a fact that a team put coaching duties on eBay. It’s marketing and in the age of social media, it has a chance of hitting more eyeballs than ever before.
If you do something cool and different, chances are it will spread through the various news mediums with tremendous pace.
Marketing—in the college football realm—can mean much more than headlines and shares on Facebook. It can also help out brand awareness and, in turn, recruiting. While it’s a leap to assume that paying fans for 50-yard field goals will suddenly flood the cupboard with 5-star talents, the extra attention certainly can’t hurt these efforts.
At the very least, there will be discussions taking place about a school (or team) that wouldn't have transpired in the first place.
For the fans, regardless of the intentions, they should embrace the opportunities. The sport can be robotic in ways, especially come fall, and coaches and players rarely break character given its cutthroat nature. Involving the fans for a day is a chance for everybody to let down their guard. In its simplest form, it's a way to feel like you're a part of the team you care far too deeply about.
Even if it's only a few hours, you might be a big part for that day.
So let’s get weird. Bring on the mascots blocking field goals, Joe Bulldog’s version of Four Verts, the eBay coaches, the $500 pipe-dream field goals and whatever else you have in store.
Market yourselves accordingly. Just bring us along for the ride.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The Florida Gators spring game is only one day away. We’ll finally get to see firsthand what the coaches have been talking about and what the players have been working on.
Questions on both sides of the ball will be answered, while concerns in certain areas are bound to remain just that until fall camp rolls around. All in all, the spring game is still one of the more exciting events of the offseason. The score may not mean much and it’s a little weird watching players tackle their teammates, but it’s still football.
Are you excited yet?
Here’s a complete breakdown of the Florida Gators 2014 spring game.
The spring game quickly approaches at USC, as the Trojans completed another week of spring practices on Thursday. Things are really starting to come together for Steve Sarkisian, and despite the new offense, the atmosphere around practices feels like the old USC style.
In a week, we will get our first true glimpse of what we can expect from the Trojans come the fall, but for now, let's revisit the standout moments from this installment of spring ball.
The Future of Adoree' Jackson
Easily USC's biggest catch of the 2014 season, Adoree' Jackson has many anxiously anticipating his arrival to the Trojan ranks. On Thursday, Sarkisian volunteered some insight about how Jackson could be used next season, and it's a pretty exciting development:
There hasn't been a notable two-way player at USC in recent memory, with the exception of Marqise Lee, who briefly lined up at cornerback against Oregon in 2012. Jackson's place at USC has been debated since the 5-star athlete signed with the cardinal and gold, and playing him at both wide receiver and cornerback solves that dilemma.
Furthermore, Jackson isn't the only one that could pull double-duty:
Sark did say they would revisit these options over the fall, but it's a promising possibility to think about nonetheless.
If Jackson, Juju Smith and Rahshead Johnson (or any of these three, for that matter) truly do end up playing on both sides of the field for USC, the Trojans become that much more dynamic of a team in 2014.
QB Battle in the Homestretch
At the beginning of spring camp, Sarkisian said he didn't have a timeline for naming a starter and that he would do so when it felt right. As practices went on, the head coach alluded to separation between returning starter Cody Kessler and his challenger, Max Browne, with Kessler having the advantage. On Tuesday, Sark all but declared the competition over:
Sark reiterated that after Thursday's practice as well:
Kessler and Browne will have their final showdown next Saturday, and at some point after that, we can expect Sark to announce that Kessler has retained his job.
To Garry Paskwietz of ESPN.com, Sark elaborated about having (mostly) reached a decision:
I would suspect we’ll name one before the end of spring. As I’ve said before, when I have a pretty good feeling for it I’m going to let it sit for a little bit, maybe watch for a bit and view it that way, see what that feels like. I feel like that’s a good way to go about it.
Choosing a starting quarterback has been Sark's most important, most pressing issue since he got hired, and with that in the bag, he can move on to further shaping the offense around that athlete's skill set.
Defense Rising to the Occasion
During the third week of spring practices, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox told the media that while the defense would start strong against the uptempo offense, productivity would taper off throughout the scrimmage sessions. This week, it appears the defense has responded.
Sark lauded the unit after practice on Tuesday:
On Thursday, more positive feedback came from the coaches about their effort:
Rahshaun Haylock of FoxSports.com outlined just how important Woods is to USC's defense and what his progression means to the team going forward.
The fact that the defense is starting to gel is particularly good news, as the Trojans have kept contact in practices to a minimum due to injury and depth concerns.
With the veteran Trojans that Sark mentioned stepping up to lead the defense, we can expect an even more spirited and competitive fall camp in four months.
A handful of former Trojans attended Thursday's practice:
Sark plans to baptize the incoming freshman by fire:
Sark praises the efforts of strength coach Ivan Lewis, who previously worked with Sark at Washington:
The Trojans will hold another light scrimmage Saturday, before the annual spring game takes place in the Coliseum next Saturday, April 19, at 3 p.m. PT.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Forget the old adage about quarterbacks getting too much credit and blame in today’s college football.
If programs want to win, they are best advised to field dynamic playmakers and fantastic decision-makers at the sport’s most important position.
Case in point: 2014 Florida State.
The Seminoles graduated first-round draft pick E.J. Manuel but upgraded with redshirt freshman Jameis Winston.
Fourteen games later, Winston and his teammates lifted the BCS National Championship trophy.
The team across the field—Auburn—had suffered through a 0-8 SEC campaign in 2012. Junior college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall can’t take all the credit, but he played no small role in turning the Tigers around to within mere seconds of a national title.
Backup quarterbacks have long been the biggest fan favorites on rosters because they, like the start of a new season, represent the unknown and—more importantly—hope.
Today we examine 12 starting quarterbacks who could lose their jobs during the 2014 season.
To be considered for the list, the quarterback in question must have started at least half the 2013 season, or there has to be reason to believe he will be the starter in 2014.
Reasons to believe someone has a chance to start include participation as a starter in past seasons or games started during injury situations.
Fill-in moments—such as when Texas A&M quarterback hopeful Matt Joeckel stepped in for Johnny Manziel—are not considered.
Many quarterbacks on the list will have either endured struggles or injuries at times during their careers. Having former highly rated prospects as backups can also impact a player’s spot on the list.
Here is our list of quarterbacks on the hot seat.