NCAA Football News

Notre Dame Football: Malik Zaire's Great Spring Game, Impact on Irish QB Race

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No matter what happened Saturday, quarterbacks were going to be the story of the day.

Whether senior Everett Golson or sophomore Malik Zaire starred or sputtered, the signal-callers would be the starting point for any spring game discussion.

So what did we get Saturday?

Zaire took the first snap under center and led the Irish on a touchdown drive, from which point Zaire and Golson alternated possessions.

Zaire finished 18-of-25 for 292 yards and two touchdowns, while Golson was 13-of-24 for 154 yards and a rushing touchdown.

“I thought there was some development there in terms of where they were at times during the spring,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. “There was a little bit better attention to some of the details that they have to have at that position.”

Kelly added that the Irish will have the opportunity to get some work in with their players in June, which helps in the development and evaluation processes. Kelly also mentioned that he hopes to settle on one quarterback, as opposed to a more even two-quarterback system, by the season opener.

So how did Saturday affect which quarterback will be that guy come August?

Let’s take a look.

Malik Zaire shines at the “party”

On the opening drive, Zaire connected with junior receiver C.J. Prosise for a 22-yard gain and sophomore receiver Will Fuller for a 29-yard gain to bring the Irish to the 1-yard line, where senior running back Cam McDaniel would punch in the touchdown.

Zaire led the Irish on touchdown drives in each of his next two possessions and maneuvered the offense into the red zone on the next one.

“By and large, I thought he was fairly consistent,” Kelly said. “His problem has been consistency of staying with progressions. … So that has been really good today, the consistency was much better for him.”

Looking ahead to the summer, Zaire agreed that the biggest room for improvement is with his consistency.

He said the spring has been a learning experience for the Irish with all the newness to this year’s team. Zaire said because it was so new, it was harder to perform well.

That wasn't the case today.

“When we figured everything out and got it down and today was like, ‘This is your party,’” Zaire said. “That’s the same way during the season should work. Practice should be harder than the games and when it’s the game time, it comes easy to us, and it came easy to us today.”

One of Zaire’s most impressive plays was his second-quarter touchdown laser to Amir Carlisle in the back of end zone, where Zaire fit the pass into a miniscule window.

Zaire certainly impressed with his performance, but he said not much changes for him heading into the summer.

“My mindset doesn't change at all, whether I’m declared a starter or whether I’m the backup or whatever the situation is because in my mind I’m always looking just to get better every day,” Zaire said. “Whatever it takes for this team to win a lot of games, I’m willing to do that.

“So I’m always working as if nobody’s giving me a chance, and I think that’s what’s really my backing. I feel like not enough people are giving me that chance and that opportunity, that’s my personal belief. So as long as I keep believing that and working my butt off to try to be the best I can be for this team, then that’s all I can ask for.”

More people might be giving Zaire that chance now.

Golson not where he wants to be

For whatever reason, Golson looked off through the air. Even from his very first pass attempt—a quick slant delivered behind Corey Robinson, the intended receiver—the timing wasn’t completely there. On the same possession, Golson overthrew senior slot receiver Amir Carlisle out of the back of the end zone.

Kelly said he would have liked to see better ball placement, leading to more catchable balls, from Golson. The 54 percent completion rate was atypical for the man who completed 59 percent of his passes as a sophomore in 2012.

“Not as good as I wanted to,” Golson said when asked about how he thought he played. “I think I’m a hard critic on myself. I don’t think I did nearly as good as I wanted to. Couple of situational things that I could have done. Because we were installing so much this spring, we didn’t really get a chance to work situation stuff.”

The 11 incompletions were fairly uncharacteristic for Golson, who looked quite accurate in practice sessions open to the media throughout the spring. Even as recently as Thursday morning, Notre Dame’s final practice before Saturday’s spring game, Golson was firing passes with precision.

So what changed?

“I do not know, to be honest,” Golson said. “I really can’t put my hand on it. A lot of different things that factored into it. We practiced on the turf, playing on the field, I think that was an issue to be honest. Guys couldn’t just get out of their breaks like they wanted to. … You saw a couple times when I fell.”

The turf problem should be taken care of moving forward, as Notre Dame announced plans to install synthetic FieldTurf to be ready for the 2014 season.

We’ve talked in the spring about Golson’s chemistry with the receivers, and after the game, the quarterback said the connections are “pretty good” and “still improving.”

“There were a couple of times where I remember throwing the ball to Will [Fuller] and I kind of threw it in the ground because I didn’t trust it off my third step,” Golson said. “Just little things like that, just becoming more comfortable knowing that they’re going to be there, knowing how to throw the ball. I think it’s still improving but we’ve got a whole offseason to really work on that.”

The offseason begins now for Golson and the Irish, who begin their regular season Aug. 30 against Rice. From now until then, Golson said the thing he most wants to develop is his pocket presence. Golson took three sacks Saturday, and Kelly said Golson’s pocket awareness was merely “OK” and noted he has “a ways to go there.”

In general, though not pleased with his performance, Golson knows what he can take away from Saturday’s outing.

“It’s some good film, as Coach Kelly always says,” Golson said. “I’ll definitely go back and watch it and correct my mistakes.”


*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Bo Pelini, Huskers Winning over Fans at Nebraska's Spring Game

"I thought that we tried to have a bit of fun today," Bo Pelini said as he kicked off his post-scrimmage press conference.

Before anything else could be discussed, there was one thing the media wanted to address. That was the cat.

"The cat was probably a little freaked out," Pelini laughed. "Was just trying to have a little bit of fun."

That's exactly what the team, and in turn the fans, had.

And it would appear that spring is Pelini's time to shine. Over the last two seasons, he has used the annual spring game to highlight a very different side of himself and his team.

During the 2013 game, the Huskers made national headlines when Jack Hoffman ran for a 69-yard touchdown. It was a moment that was not soon forgotten. In fact, Jack went on to win an ESPY for the moment.

With the 2014 game approaching, fans wondered what could possibly be in store. It would be hard to top Jack's run (and arguably, nothing ever will), but fans figured something had to happen.

And sure enough, the fans were right.

As the tunnel walk music began, the stadium rose to its feet. The big screen began to show the typical pregame footage before cutting to a live shot of the locker room. The first person to be seen was Pelini. That's typical.

What wasn't usual was the cat in his arms.

From there, Pelini carried the cat from the locker room to the field's entrance. Holding the cat in the air, a la The Lion King, Memorial Stadium erupted.

At that moment, it was clear the spring game would be unlike any other. While some had figured the unique score system would be what made this scrimmage different, it ended up being a variety of small moments that took place throughout.

For example, Pelini challenged wide receiver Kenny Bell to a throwing contest. Whoever hit the goal post the most in three tries would be crowned the victor. Bell hit the goal post twice, securing a win over Pelini, who didn't hit the goal post once.

"I threw a lot better ball that Kenny Bell, by the way," Pelini made sure to note afterward.

And then there was Jeff Jamrog, the assistant athletic director for football, calling out players' Twitter handles during drills. He encouraged fans to "give 'em a follow," connecting the real world to the Internet.

That wasn't it, of course. True to Husker form, there was one more moment that had yet to happen. As former players came out on the field to compete in a drill, one player decided to make it a moment to remember.

As he stepped forward to participate in the drill, former Husker Jeremiah Sirles turned back around and got down on one knee. With his girlfriend there, he proposed and she said yes.

By that point, fans had stopped paying attention to the score. After all, there were bigger things happening on the field.

Over the last two years, Nebraska has turned the spring game into an event. It's an event that not only captures the attention of Husker fans, but also of people all across the country.

The annual spring game still allows fans to see the team in action and get a taste of football mid-spring. However, the Huskers have found a way to make it as much of a celebration as a scrimmage.

And Pelini accomplished exactly what he wanted, which was for everyone to have a little bit of fun.


All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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Miami Spring Game 2014: Live Grades, Analysis for the Hurricanes

The Miami Hurricanes spring game took place on Saturday, April 12 at Sun Life Stadium, pitting the offense against the defense.

An unconventional scoring system gave the defense a 61-60 win, and it was a well-deserved victory.


First-Half Analysis for the Miami Hurricanes

Pass Offense: Kevin Olsen, who now leads the quarterback battle, could not find a rhythm after connecting on a few passes. Gray Crow has looked better than Olsen, tossing a couple of outstanding deep balls that were dropped by D'Mauri Jones and Garrett Kidd.

Run Offense: Sophomore Gus Edwards was the most impressive running back, bursting through holes, dragging defenders and finishing carries strongly. Walter Tucker and De'Andre Johnson had a respectable opening session, but Edwards is clearly the best back on the field.

Pass Defense: Jermaine Grace nearly intercepted a Crow pass, and the secondary has covered the Miami receivers very well to this point. Also, Ufomba Kamalu was credited with a sack.

Run Defense: Denzel Perryman and Dallas Crawford were flocking to the ball, and Darrion Owens made his presence felt with solid tackling. Cornerback Tracy Howard did well to wrap up the big-bodied Edwards in the open field.

Special Teams: The 'Canes are playing on a shortened field, so there are no kickoffs or punts. However, returning kicker Matt Goudis pushed a 46-yard field goal to the right.

Coaching: Al Golden is more of an overseer during this game, but offensive coordinator James Coley is calling a decent mix of runs and passes. More importantly, Olsen and Crow have not looked overwhelmed with the plays.


Final Analysis for the Miami Hurricanes

Pass Offense: The quarterbacks have plenty to improve before the 2014 season. Overall, Olsen was disappointing. He airmailed numerous passes but displayed excellent touch on a completion to Malcolm Lewis. Expected backup Crow outplayed Olsen, but that isn't saying much.

Run Offense: Edwards flaunted significant improvement, showing more explosiveness and better balance at the point of contact. Tucker consistently accelerated through defenders and broke arm tackles.

Pass Defense: The Miami secondary hardly allowed easy completions, and Thurston Armbrister, Grace and Jelani Hamilton each deflected passes. Juwon Young and Tracy Howard both notched an interception, and Kamalu was credited with a non-contact sack.

Run Defense: Perryman absolutely hammered Edwards, and Alex Figueroa smacked the back, too. True freshmen Owens and Young also tallied a few tackles. While ultimately improved, the defense was surrendering too many yards after contact.

Special Teams: Goudis converted on one extra point, but he hooked a 50-yard field goal and pushed a 46-yarder wide right.

Coaching: Though possibly a product of porous quarterback play, Mark D’Onofrio's defense was consistently pressuring Olsen and Crow. Coley kept the playbook simple for his young gunslingers, but his persistence with the running game was encouraging.

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Should Florida State Fans Worry About Jameis Winston's Spring Game Struggles?

Last year, Jameis Winston's stellar spring game set the stage for a Heisman Trophy and a national title. One year later many Florida State fans must be wondering if Winston's spring game struggles signal a sophomore slump? 

Winston's final stat line in Saturday's Garnet-Gold game included 396 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception while completing just 27-of-56 passing attempts (48.2 percent). Winston's lowest completion percentage in a game last season was 52.6 percent in FSU's third game of the year against Bethune-Cookman, where Winston went just 10-of-19 in the 54-6 rout. 

So the fact that Winston completed fewer than half of his passes on Saturday is somewhat alarming, especially considering he didn't do that once last year. 

But, Winston did improve on his first half numbers from the spring game, which included completed just 13-of-31 pass attempts (41.9 percent) and also included the one pick he threw. 

That interception in the first half was Winston's worse decisions, if not the worst decision, he made all day. He threw into triple coverage deep down the field and was picked off by Jalen Ramsey after the ball was tipped. 

Yes, it's easy to make the excuse that, "hey, it's just the spring game." But Winston's a Heisman winner who's entering his third year in the program. He should know better by now than to throw deep into triple coverage. 

Another thing to consider is that Winston was going up against the first-team defense for the Seminoles, which includes the secondary that led the nation last season in interceptions with 26. 

Winston literally just faced off against one of the country's best defenses, and he threw for nearly 400 yards and won the game. 

Another reason likely explanation for Winston's spring game struggles is good old fashion fatigue.

The darling of Florida State has been running himself ragged this spring. This past week, he either practiced or played in a baseball game every day. That meant he had to sign an NCAA waiver granting him exemption from his mandated day off to even be able to play in the spring game. 

With so much on the young man's plate, including the new federal investigation that Florida State is being subjected to following its handling of the Winston sexual assault allegations, maybe he was due for an off day. 

Saturday didn't go as planned for Winston. But fans shouldn't worry too much about their superstar, as he has a knack for coming up big when he has to. If you need proof of that, just go look at that last Florida State drive in the national championship. 

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Miami Football Recruiting: Dexter Williams and Scott Patchan Commit to 'Canes

Before the Miami Hurricanes took the field for the 2014 spring game, two prospects gave their commitments to Al Golden and the coaching staff at "The U."

Dexter Williams, a 4-star running back from Orlando, Fla., and Scott Patchan, a 3-star defensive end from Tampa, Fla., are now verbally committed to the 'Canes.

According to 247Sports' Composite Rankings, Williams is ranked the 11th-best running back in the nation, but 247Sports has him listed as the No. 4 back. Consequent to his pledge, Williams takes the lead as the highest-rated commitment for the Hurricanes' 2014 class.

Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel notes Williams posted the second-best SPARQ score at the Orlando camp and was invited to Nike's The Opening, an exclusive training event and competition.

Anticipating the departure of superstar back Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes are looking to stockpile talent at the running back position. Sophomore Gus Edwards and freshman Joseph Yearby will contribute during the upcoming season, but Williams would provide another solid option in the backfield in future years.

Patchan, whose father played at Miami, is a top-500 player and the 24th-rated defensive end on 247Sports' Composite Rankings.

The legacy defensive end announced his commitment on his Twitter account, posting a picture with him standing next to Golden and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.

Last season, Patchan accounted for 56 tackles, tallying an outstanding 24 for loss, including 8.5 sacks.

Patchan joins a rebuilding defensive line that is looking to develop into a more consistent unit, especially with the addition of 2014 5-star Chad Thomas alongside sophomore Al-Quadin Muhammad.

The Miami 2015 class now holds nine verbal commitments, and The U currently ranks 13th nationally and third in the ACC, per 247Sports.


Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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FSU Spring Game 2014: Recap, Highlights and Analysis

The Florida State Seminoles completed their spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium, as the Garnet team surged past the Gold team by a final score of 31-14.

That's not a surprising score due to the fact that reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was at the helm of the Garnet squad.

Winston didn't get off to a fast start, but he quickly regained his form, racking up 396 passing yards and two touchdowns by game's end.

Freddie Stevenson looked good carrying the ball, recording 85 yards and a score on 18 carries. Rashad Greene was targeted early and often, coming away with 11 receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown—clearly, the absence of Kelvin Benjamin was not heavily felt due to Greene's stellar day.

Ro'Derrick Hoskins stole the show on the defensive side of the ball, racking up two sacks and reeling in one interception for a touchdown.

Here's a look at some notable plays, analysis and reactions from Saturdays event.

FSU's Twitter account noted early on that many starters were being held out of action on Saturday:

This isn't a bad thing, as plenty of reserve players got chances to shine.

Winston got off to a shaky start, according to a tweet from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports:

It was Sean MacGuire that began the scoring for the day, tossing a perfect pass to Rashad Gholston for a 27-yard score. 

Defensively, Matthew Thomas was all over the field early in the game, per Brandon Mellor of

Freddie Stevenson tied it up with a six-yard touchdown run for the Garnet.

Winston began to heat up late in the first half. He completed a six-yard touchdown pass to Greene and headed into halftime passing for 259 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Backup Sean McGuire got into the passing action as well. He looked good in the first half, completing 13 of his 19 passing attempts for 162 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

So, what was the deal with the all-out passing attack?

The Seminoles had a bit trouble finding space on the ground, and Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel tweeted why:

The third quarter concluded without any additional points being scored, as the Garnet team led the Gold 24-7.

In the final quarter, another quarterback got into the mix. John Franklin III maintained a steady drive, as noted by Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat:

With Winston done for the day, Mellor tweeted out the starting quarterback's final numbers:

This certainly looks to be a very talented squad heading into the 2014 season. Three quarterbacks combined for four touchdown passes on the day, while a vast amount of speed was seen at the wide receiver position.

The Seminoles look to be a deep, versatile team set to make plenty of noise this year once again.

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Ohio State Spring Game Proves How Important Braxton Miller Is to Buckeyes

Braxton Miller is still recovering from minor shoulder surgery, which prevented him from strapping on his pads and suiting up for Ohio State's spring game Saturday afternoon.

His absence proved just how important he is to the Buckeyes' 2014 season and potential title run.

Without Miller, Ohio State's scrimmage featured the top two candidates for the backup spot—redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett.

While Jones has received a lot of praise this spring, he struggled Saturday, completing just 14-of-31 passes for 126 yards. Barrett was a bit better, connecting on 17-of-33 passes for 151 yards.

Neither quarterback threw a touchdown or completed a pass longer than 35 yards.

Those are disappointing numbers for both signal-callers, who were operating pass-heavy offenses against defenses that didn't blitz. Urban Meyer was hoping to see more from Jones, who has surged ahead of Barrett for the No. 2 quarterback spot.

Finding a safety net for Miller was one of Ohio State's top priorities this offseason. 

When Miller sprained his knee against San Diego State early last season, Ohio State turned to backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, who kept the Buckeyes playing at a very high level for three consecutive weeks.

That was 11 months after Guiton saved Ohio State's perfect 2012 season against Purdue. The Buckeyes were in a world of hurt when Miller got knocked out of the game, but Guiton orchestrated one of the most improbable comebacks of the season when he forced overtime with a touchdown pass and two-point conversion in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. 

Saturday showed that Jones and Barrett aren't the reliable option Guiton was. 

That puts even more pressure on Miller to stay healthy. The senior signal-caller has had an injury-plagued career at Ohio State, and if he goes down this season, Guiton won't be around to save the day.

Miller has spent his spring standing behind the line of scrimmage with a camera strapped to his head, forced to take mental reps during every offensive snap. Meyer wants Miller taking the next step as a quarterback, which would require major improvement as a passer.

According to Ben Axelrod of Buckeye Sports Bulletin, Miller is right on track.

Forced to play without him Saturday, the Buckeyes saw just how much they need Miller to be great.


All stats via Ohio State's official website.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Clemson Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades, Analysis for the Tigers

At halftime of the Clemson spring game, White leads Orange 17-2. Check out the first-half analysis and grades here.


First-half analysis for the Clemson spring game

Pass Offense: With freshman DeShaun Watson sidelined by a collarbone injury, the spotlight shifted to fellow quarterback derby competitors Chad Kelly and Cole Stoudt. Stoudt, the senior, held the clear edge, completing eight of 13 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns (one to Mike Williams, one to Jordan Leggett). Kelly completed 10 of 18 passes for 113 yards but threw a pair of interceptions into coverage. Sophomore wideout Mike Williams was impressive, catching two passes for 58 yards and a 30-yard score.

Run Offense: At times, the Tigers run offense struggled to find traction, but three of the top four tailbacks managed to break off big runs. Redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman had a 25-yard run, while senior D.J. Howard had a 35-yard run (and 11 yards on six other carries). Junior C.J. Davidson carried four times for 41 yards, including a 32-yard run. Gallman showed explosiveness with his big run and a 15-yard pass reception, while Howard fumbled a ball away.


Pass Defense: Kelly and Stoudt had their moments, but cornerbacks Adrian Baker and Garry Peters both had interceptions, and quarterbacks were “sacked” (they were not live in the scrimmage) a combined nine times in the half. Senior defensive end Tavaris Barnes put plenty of pressure on the quarterbacks, piling up four sacks in the half.

Run Defense: Clemson’s tailbacks have broken their share of runs, but with sacks counted in the equation, both teams have a combined 84 yards rushing for the first half. The Orange team is averaging an anemic 0.3 yards per carry, which would not get it done in a game that counts.

Final analysis for the Clemson spring game

Pass Offense: Kelly did not play after halftime due to what coach Dabo Swinney called a “coaches’ decision” for showing poor attitude on the sidelines following a first-half decision to punt on fourth and short. Stoudt was solid again in the second half, completing seven of nine passes for 60 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Third-team quarterback Nick Schuessler picked up Kelly’s snaps and finished the game seven of 17 for 67 total yards. Tight end Jordan Leggett showed some major athleticism, finishing the game with seven catches for 59 yards and a 16-yard touchdown, and Daniel Rodriguez had five catches for 53 yards.


Run Offense: Clemson finished with a total of 200 yards on 65 carries, although those totals were held down by 13 “sacks” piled up by the defense. Gallman finished with 61 yards, while walk-on Kurt Fleming was impressive, breaking a game-long 49-yard run late. D.J. Howard made a tough 13-yard touchdown run and finished with 59 yards on nine carries. With the offensive line split evenly between the teams, chemistry could also have played a factor in the run game’s up-and-down effort.


Pass Defense: There were no passing touchdowns in the second half, but also no interceptions. It should be noted that Kelly’s absence might have played a role in that, as he had two first-half picks thrown into coverage.


Run Defense: The Tigers’ running offense improved slightly in the second half, as Clemson combined for 116 yards rushing between the two squads. In the end, four backs had rushes of at least 27 yards for the game, but Clemson averaged just 3.07 yards per rush on the day combined, which is solid on any level.


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Penn State Spring Game Shows Fans, Recruits Buying What James Franklin Selling

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The wave of momentum that Penn State's football program is riding out of spring camp can't be simply explained.

As the lots around Beaver Stadium began filling up at 9:00 a.m. ET, the buzz around Happy Valley was noticeably different than it has been the last couple years. 

An announced attendance of 72,000 fans poured into the stadium and all but filled the lower bowl, cheering on their Nittany Lions through what was mostly a dud of a football game.

Head coach James Franklin had been asking for 80,000 fans to show up for the Blue-White game but didn't seem disappointed by coming up short.

Those loyal to the cause were kindly thanked just a few seconds into Franklin's postgame press conference:

I really appreciate everybody being here. Great crowd. Unbelievable support from this community, I'm not surprised one bit. I think it was announced 72,000...appreciative of that.

Franklin joked that he had someone take an actual count and there were "82,000," exceeding the threshold he asked for.

During that part of the press conference, he also acknowledged the recruits watching from above.

The Penn State media room has a second-story observation deck, for lack of a better term. After every game, visiting recruits watch the media room fill up to give them a sense of how big Penn State football is. 


James Franklin to speak shortly; plenty of recruits/commits waiting to hear what he says, too.

— Josh Moyer (@ESPNJoshMoyer) April 12, 2014


James Franklin looked up at the group and nonchalantly asked, "What's up, guys?"

Always recruiting.

In fact, before the players even arrived at Beaver Stadium, Franklin received a verbal commitment from 4-star defensive tackle Adam McLean.

The Maryland native held offers from all over the country, including Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State.

Departed defensive line coach Larry Johnson was expected to be a factor in McLean's recruitment now that Johnson is at Ohio State, but that didn't seem to be the case.

McLean became the eighth 4-star commit in Penn State's current class—a class currently sitting at No. 1 in the country.

The momentum train is on a round course, and James Franklin appears to be the driver.

He's using recruiting to get the fans excited and is then using the fan support as a recruiting tool:

I think when you have '82,000' show up...they always do some statistics out there after spring ball and look at what everybody had as attendance at their games, I don't think there's any doubt that we're special. One of the big reasons we're special is because of the support that we get from the community. I was very impressed. Running in that stadium was an unbelievable emotional experience for me.

He didn't hesitate to admit that having a full house for games is a big tool for recruiting, pleading for "107,001" fans to show up at every home game.

From the looks of it, they're hooked and will do whatever he asks them to when it comes to helping. And if the cycle continues on, recruiting stands to benefit greatly from that relationship.

As one tailgater eloquently said this afternoon, "Can you guys believe we got James friggin' Franklin as our head coach?!"

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Miami Hurricanes Unveil New Nike Football Uniforms

As college football teams around the country continue to get new gear for the 2014 season, the Miami Hurricanes have officially unveiled their new Nike uniforms.

Nike released four new Hurricanes jerseys, and they all look pretty awesome. You can see a few pictures of the jerseys below:

The Hurricanes also released a video of the players' reactions to the new gear:

Head coach Al Golden had some positive comments about the new uniforms, saying via

The innovative look respects our tradition but perhaps more importantly, represents the future and our current Canes. We have one of the most iconic logos in college sports and Nike has combined that with its latest performance technology to produce a sleek, dynamic new uniform for The U.


[YouTube, Nike]

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Ohio State Spring Game 2014: Recap, Highlights and Analysis

The Ohio State Buckeyes were one victory away from playing in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game against Florida State last season, so there was a lot of focus on the team's spring game on Saturday afternoon. 

Of course, the main focus of the day was pass defense. Urban Meyer's secondary got lit up down the stretch, allowing 1,133 yards and 12 passing touchdowns to Michigan, Michigan State and Clemson. 

The Buckeyes are lost their best cornerback, Bradley Roby, who will likely be a first-round pick in the NFL draft next month, star linebacker Ryan Shazier and No. 1 running back Carlos Hyde, so this game was more than just an exhibition to show off the new toys. 

Also absent from the game was starting quarterback Braxton Miller, who had shoulder surgery earlier this year. His presence, or lack thereof, certainly left a void that gave the whole affair an incomplete feel. 

Always loyal and passionate, Ohio State fans came out in full force for this spring game, as Jerry Emig of provided the attendance numbers. 

Those 61,058 fans were treated to a look at the incoming crop of talent, as well as a 17-7 victory by the Gray side over the Scarlet squad.  

ESPN's Joe Schad noted that Meyer planned to open up the offenses today in order to see where the secondary is at right now. 

There were some positive developments on defense. Freshman linebacker and 5-star recruit Raekwon McMillan made a brilliant play down the field that most players at his position wouldn't be able to. 

Eli Apple, Meyer's prized 5-star cornerback recruit last year, also made his presence felt in the game with a nice play to shove Michael Thomas out of the corner of the end zone to save a touchdown. 

Marcus Hartman of Buckeyes Sports Bulletin was very pleased with the play of Apple in the game. 

Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash also raved about Apple's improved performance days before the spring game, via ESPN's Big Ten Twitter feed. 

On the offensive side, sophomore running back Warren Ball had a nice game with a touchdown and almost seven yards per carry, via Eleven Warriors. 

Of course, not everything goes perfectly, even in an exhibition game. Urban Meyer was not pleased with the performance of the offensive line, also via Eleven Warriors. 

Who knew that Meyer had such a wicked sense of humor? He kept the laughs coming after the game was over, providing this quote about how the game played out, courtesy of Land-Grant Holy Land. 

That about sums up the afternoon in Columbus. It wasn't always pretty to watch, though it certainly wasn't indicative of what fans can expect to see from the Buckeyes in 2014 because Miller was unable to play. 

At least Meyer was honest about what he saw, understanding that there is a lot of raw talent on the field that has to start playing disciplined in games.

Ohio State is going to be at the top of everyone's Big Ten preseason rankings because Meyer is such an excellent recruiter of talent. He's also done well to go 24-2 in his first two seasons with the program, but the end of 2013 was an eye-opening experience for everyone. 

The Buckeyes are losing a lot of high-end talent to the NFL, so this upcoming season will likely tell us about Meyer's ability to recruit star power and depth. 

Get excited, Columbus, because Ohio State football took its first steps toward building on last season's Orange Bowl appearance. 


If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

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Georgia Spring Game 2014: Hutson Mason Shows He's Ready to Lead

ATHENS, Ga.—Replacing a legend is never easy, but Hutson Mason made it look easy in Georgia's spring game on Saturday afternoon between the hedges at Sanford Stadium.

The redshirt senior signal-caller was sizzling on Saturday, completing 18 of 27 passes for 241 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions, leading the Red team to a 27-24 win over the Black team in front of a record spring game crowd of 46,073 fans at G-Day.

Mason's touchdown came on a beautiful 10-yard, back-shoulder fade to Reggie Davis in the second quarter. That's a trait that is consistent with virtually every quarterback of the Mark Richt era, and something that Mason has worked on quite a bit while he sat behind former quarterback Aaron Murray for four years.

"The kind of coverage they were playing down there in the red zone, it was kind of tough," Mason said. "We were going to have to throw it up or do a back shoulder. With Reggie being 5'10", I didn't want to throw it up. When I saw the corner playing over the top, I just did a back shoulder."

But it wasn't just the back-shoulder fade that Mason has mastered. The 6'3", 202-pounder had nice touch on several deep balls, including one to Chris Conley and another on what would have been a sure-fire touchdown to Reggie Davis had Davis not been interfered with by cornerback Shaq Wiggins.

"Hutson's definitely a guy who, if he sees a matchup that he likes, he's going to let it go early," Conley said. "When he throws the ball, he definitely puts more air under it. He's still adjusting to playing with all of these receivers. He's an extremely hard worker, a great leader, and this offense is going to be just fine with him."

Mason didn't just light up the stat sheet. He impressed his coaches with his pre-snap reads and the ability to handle the offense like a veteran.

"He did a nice job like he's been doing all spring long," head coach Mark Richt said. "Finding the open targets, getting us in the right plays, right protections. I think he stood in the pocket very well and bought some time back there and made some plays. I thought he did a nice job overall."

As Edward Ascoff of ESPN notes, Mason has the right mentality and will be an exciting player in 2014. 

But can he lead this team to a championship?

With receivers like Conley, Michael Bennett, Davis already comfortable with him—and Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley both coming back this fall—he certainly has the weapons around him to be successful.

Mason isn't your average first-year starter. His experience with the program and familiarity with his teammates and the system allows him to step into the full-time starting roll with little-to-no hiccups.

While Mason was solid during G-Day, he could be—and has been—better.

"The other two scrimmages were even better than today, and I thought today he did well," Richt said. "He's just very knowledgeable. Very comfortable. I think he's accurate. I think he's a competitor. He's ready for all of his challenges."

Georgia's offense—which finished fourth in the SEC (484.2 YPG) last season—shouldn't miss a beat with Mason taking the snaps.



* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and spring game statistics were obtained firsthand.



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Florida State Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades and Analysis for the Seminoles

The defending national champion Florida State Seminoles held their annual Garnet-Gold game on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee. Seminoles fans got their first look of the calendar year at Heisman winner Jameis Winston, who took a break from the baseball diamond. 

Check out the grades and analysis from the game here. 


First-half analysis for the Florida State Seminoles spring game

Pass Offense: Winston, who went up against the first-team defense, looked like he had plenty of cobwebs to shake off before he gets to fall camp. He completed fewer than half of his passes, although he did have six completions go for 20 or more yards. But he also threw two interceptions, one of which was in double coverage. He finished the first half just 13-of-31 on his pass attempts.

The story of the first half was actually the battle for the backup job between Sean Maguire and John Franklin III. Maguire, who played all of the first quarter for the gold team as well as some of the second quarter, was probably the best quarterback on the field during the first half. His best play was a 27-yard dart to Rashad Gholston for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Rush Offense: There wasn't much to Florida State's rushing game in the first half. The team's top back Karlos Williams was held out of the game. So that left Freddie Stevenson, who's listed as a fullback, to carry the load on the ground. 

Stevenson didn't look half bad, scoring Garnet's first touchdown of the game on the ground in the second quarter and showing good speed. However, he did fumble on what was looking like a promising drive for Garnet in the first quarter. 

Pass Defense: The only quarterback who had any sort of consistent success against this pass defense was Maguire, who was going against the second-team defense. Against Winston, the Seminoles secondary picked off the Heisman winner twice and limited him to just one touchdown pass. The secondary also picked off Maguire at the end of the second quarter and took it back to the end zone to give Garnet a 24-7 lead.  

Rush Defense: There were hardly any rushing attempts during the first half by any squad. But for the first-team defense to give up chunks of yards to Stevenson, who is a fullback on the roster, is concerning. Granted, it's the spring game, and the defense has just five returning starters, so everybody is learning how to line up correctly and communicate. 

Special Teams: If there is one focal point that the Seminoles need to work on this summer, based on the spring, it's the punting game. Three punts in the first half went for less than 40 yards, and none went for 50 or more. While punters seldom saw the field last year in Tallahassee, the defending national champions have to be able to win the battle of field position, and punting is a huge part of that. 

Coaching: There's not much to coaching in the spring game. Jimbo Fisher, who's in the first year of his new contract, held out plenty of players to avoid injury, didn't allow punt returns and prohibited the quarterbacks from being tackled. Plenty of other players donned green "non-contact" jerseys, including star wide receiver Rashad Greene. So Fisher was playing it plenty safe to keep his team healthy in this game. 


Final Analysis for the Florida State Seminoles

Pass Offense: With a running clock that didn't even stop in between possessions in the second half, not much changed from the first half to the second half across the board. 

Winston got more comfortable as the game went on, finishing with 396 yards while completing 27 of 56 passes. Maguire all but locked up the backup job with a strong showing. Franklin III looked impressive on a late two-minute drill that ended in a touchdown. And Troy Cook saw minimal playing time as Winston's backup on the Garnet team. 

Rush Offense: Fisher held out all four scholarship running backs from the spring game, so the rushing attack wasn't much to write home about. Again, Stevenson looked impressive as a fullback who was playing running back. That could set the stage for an interesting one-two punch in the backfield this fall. 

Pass Defense: The secondary started to struggle a bit in the second half as Winston began to find his receivers. Still, the secondary played well throughout the game, especially with Fisher almost calling exclusively pass plays. This unit led the nation in interceptions last year with 26, and it looks like it'll be among the country's elite again in 2014. 

Rush Defense: It's almost impossible to judge the rush defense of this team considering that none of the scholarship running backs played and the backups who did get carries were few and far between. A concern, though, was that Stevenson was able to have the day he had. But with a young unit on defense that is still learning one another's tendencies, you have to think that come the fall, this unit—led by Mario Edwards Jr.—will be swallowing up running backs. 

Special Teams: The punting game improved in the second half a little bit with one punt going for a touchback. But still, special teams had a rough day. Three punts went for less than 40 yards in the game, and Roberto Aguayo, last year's Lou Groza Award winner, went just 1-of-2 on his field-goal attempts. 

Coaching: Nobody got seriously injured for the Seminoles in the Garnet-Gold game, and that was due primarily to Fisher's precautions. Plenty of guys were either held out altogether or wore green "non-contact" jerseys. A coach's only real job in the spring game is to walk away with his team healthy, and Fisher accomplished that. 

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South Carolina Football: Steve Spurrier Not Giving Anything Away in Spring Game

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Black team beat the Garnet team, 28-10, in South Carolina's annual spring football game, but don't take it seriously.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier certainly doesn't.

For Spurrier, it's all about putting on a good show for the fans, avoiding injuries and having a little fun along the way.

Spurrier's casual approach was highlighted by his "off the bench" play.

This year, it was women's basketball coach Dawn Staley who stepped off the sidelines and into the end zone to catch a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson.

"I think the best play of the spring game had to be the catch made by wide receiver Dawn Staley," Spurrier said. "Dylan had to put up about a 45-yard throw. We were on the 30-yard line. I was hoping that we'd be on the 10 or 15, but that was all we had. He put it in the air, and Dawn made a great catch. That was probably the highlight play."

When the highlight play is a throw to the women's basketball coach, it tells you all you need to know about Spurrier's approach in the spring.

He remembers the spring before his first season as coach at Florida when Emmitt Smith carried the ball 31 times.

"We don't do that here," Spurrier said.

Case in point. South Carolina's starting tailback, Mike Davis, rushed 203 times for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Saturday, he carried the ball twice for 13 yards.

Davis used one word when asked how his spring practice had gone.

"Relaxing," he said.

Even so, Davis said he put in plenty of work and got better.

"I didn't get a lot of reps," he said, "but I got a lot of mental work done. I definitely improved. I also was able to help the younger players get better."

Even playing 12-minute quarters with the clock running continuously in the second half, the Gamecocks piled up 496 yards of offense on 83 plays.

South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was OK about it. He knows the deal. The Gamecocks were not allowed to blitz and were limited to three coverages.

“It’s probably harder on my assistant coaches," Ward said. "They don’t really understand. This is my sixth spring with Coach Spurrier. I understand what it’s about. The guys understand. I understand what the game is about, and we want to make sure our fans are happy when they leave. They like to see points on the board."

It's what Spurrier likes to see also.

“It was set up for the offense to move the ball,” he conceded.

Spurrier's approach obviously works. The Gamecocks are 33-6 over the last three seasons.

“It’s hard to say how important spring practices are," he said. "I just feel like you let players play and practice who have not played a lot. The older players practice their position, but they don’t need a lot of scrimmaging.”

If it all translates to another good season remains to be seen.

“We had more players in spring practice than I can ever remember," Spurrier said. "We’ve got 22 fourth- or fifth-year players. That doesn’t mean we’re going to beat a lot of teams. We can go bad, or we can go good. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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Georgia's Defense Making Improvements but Still Has a Long Road Ahead

There’s good news for the Georgia Bulldogs’ revitalized defense led by new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  That good news is that the regular season is still several months away.

Based on what the unit displayed on Saturday at G-Day, the Bulldogs’ annual spring game, Pruitt will need every minute of that time.

To be fair, there were noticeable improvements on display for the Dawgs on Saturday, but there's still a long road ahead.


Noticeable Improvements

Aside from the change in scheme and personnel, sound open-field tackling and a premium on forcing turnovers appear to be the two most prominent differences between Pruitt’s defense and those of years past under Todd Grantham.  In that regard, Pruitt’s arrival in Athens has already resulted in drastic improvements in two of the defense’s weakest areas. 

Last year, the much-maligned Georgia defense seemed to employ a bend and break mentality to deep passing plays.  Time and time again, the Bulldogs missed opportunities to make plays downfield in the secondary, and forced turnovers were few and far between.

On Saturday, a number of players came up with big-time interceptions.  Although the majority of these takeaways came against backup quarterbacks, it was encouraging to see defensive backs deflecting balls, interfering with passing lanes and playing aggressively.

Equally positive was Georgia’s open-field tackling—particularly in the secondary—which seemed to benefit from Pruitt’s emphasis on swarming the opposition.  Most notably, Georgia defensive backs and linebackers had tremendous success in limiting wide receiver screens and routes in the flats.


Long Road Ahead

And yet, G-Day left fans with plenty of causes for frustration—or at the very least, concern.

For Georgia fans, the image of an opposing receiver running open deep into the secondary was a memory they hoped to forget along with Grantham's departure.  The new-look defense, however, had the same old problem.  Far too often, the secondary showed its youth as receivers streaked open for big games. 

Starting quarterback Hutson Mason seemed to complete passes at will as he connected with open receivers on nine of his first 11 pass attempts.  Backup signal-caller Faton Bauta, who in the past has been known more for his mobility and elusiveness than his arm, was equally impressive throwing the football—an indictment of the secondary.

Interestingly enough, Georgia also struggled at times against the run.  Despite returning the overwhelming majority of its two-deep depth chart among the defensive line and linebackers, a number of unlikely offensive players found significant running room against the strongest part of Pruitt's defense.

Of course, the usual suspects like Todd Gurley and Brendan Douglas had success on the ground, but it was the significant yardage surrendered to the likes of Mason that was most frustrating.  Several times, in fact, too many defenders dropped into coverage (presumably to compensate for poor defensive back coverage) and in doing so, surrendered the middle of the field—and often first down yardage—to the quarterback.


Where Does the Defense Go From Here?

The success of this defense will depend on its ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.  That’s not an overly bleak scenario given Georgia’s wealth of talented pass-rushers including Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Ray Drew.

With Mason and two backups (Brice Ramsey and Jacob Park) wearing no-contact jerseys during the intrasquad scrimmage, it was hard at times to accurately gauge the effectiveness of Georgia’s pass rush.  But Floyd found his way into the backfield several times, and that bodes well for this team, as it seeks a defensive identity.

Also encouraging was Pruitt’s utilization of middle linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson in rushing schemes.  The two linebackers led the Southeastern Conference in tackles last year and boast the skill sets to disrupt quarterbacks in the passing game, and by the looks of things, Pruitt is going to allow them to do so.

The less time Georgia allows opposing quarterbacks, the better for Georgia’s still-developing secondary.  Pruitt’s expertise is in developing defensive backs, but the vast majority of contributors at the cornerback and safety spots are still plagued by youth, inexperience or a combination thereof. 

A reduced reliance on advanced schemes should prompt accelerated maturation in the secondary, but there is still a lot of work to be done.  Fortunately, there’s still time for Puritt and his new staff.

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Orange and White Game 2014: Live Game Grades, Analysis for Tennessee Football

The Tennessee Volunteers closed spring practice with the annual Orange and White Game on Saturday, and fans were able to get their first look at a slew of newcomers who will contribute this fall.

From the four-man quarterback race to the introduction of 14 mid-term enrollees, everybody was on display Saturday—and many got a chance to prove themselves in team and individual drills, all of which contributed to a modified scoring system.

Let's take a look at the first-half grades for head coach Butch Jones' Vols.

First-half analysis for the Tennessee Volunteers

Pass Offense: Tennessee's talented receivers were clearly the most impressive group on the field, even though they feasted mostly on the Vols reserve defenders. UT had 10 pass plays over 10 yards in the first half, and five of those went for more than 20 yards. Freshman Josh Malone shined with two touchdowns, and Marquez North scorched Cameron Sutton for a 50-yard score in the only touchdown drive against the first-team defense. Joshua Dobbs and Justin Worley were the two best quarterbacks throughout the first half.

Run Offense: Though the Vols had 151 rushing yards and a 4.7-yard average, the stats were boosted by Dobbs' 59-yard touchdown run following a poor snap. Senior Marlin Lane finally got going against the first-teamers on the touchdown drive, but freshman Jalen Hurd led the way with 48 yards on nine carries.

Pass Defense: The best news for the members of the Vols secondary is they don't have to go against the Vols receivers once the season starts. After the starting cornerback duo of Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, there is a serious talent drop-off, and even Sutton struggled lining up on North. Having Curt Maggitt and Corey Vereen rushing off the edge will help the Vols, but the quarterback pressure still wasn't where it needs to be.

Run Defense: The only thing missing from Dobbs' touchdown run for the defense was circus music. It was a lesson of what not to do fundamentally, as players out of rush lanes led to the 59-yard score. Other than that, the rush defense was solid. After struggling much of the spring, UT's starting defensive line got the best of the rebuilt O-line much of the half.

Special Teams: There's still too much inconsistency in the punting game, as Matt Darr got off to a poor start with a 36-yard punt but followed it up with a 53-yard boomer. George Bullock started the scoring with a 41-yard field goal that had plenty of room to spare, so the kickers looked better than anticipated.

Coaching: Everybody wanted to see Hurd run more against the first-team defense in the first half, and the situational scoring system made the game impossible to follow from a team standpoint, but Jones put his players in every situation imaginable, which is exactly what you're looking for in a glorified scrimmage.

Final analysis for the Tennessee Volunteers

Pass Offense: Worley separated himself from the pack with the best day in team action against the first-team defense. After leading two first-half scoring marches, the rising senior carried a 70-yard touchdown drive to open the second half. Dobbs led four touchdown drives in the game, but all were against the reserves. It was nice to see Riley Ferguson rebound with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Cody Blanc to cap a long drive against the starting D. The only real mistake of the day was Malik Foreman's late interception of Ferguson.

Run Offense: There simply weren't any "wow" runs from the Vols running backs. Though Dobbs and Worley had long scrambles, it would have been nice to see Lane or Hurd break free for a big gain. The offensive line continued to struggle run blocking, even though UT wasn't bad in short-yardage situations. Hurd had a better day than Lane.

Pass Defense: The Vols clearly sputtered on the back end of the defense without safety and leader Brian Randolph, who has missed the entire spring. The corners continued to be beaten routinely by Malone and North in the second half, and UT desperately needs the incoming freshmen to be ready to provide quality depth. There isn't any currently.

Run Defense: After the coaching staff rode the defensive line throughout the spring, they really showed up at times Saturday. Even with A.J. Johnson playing limited snaps, the Vols starting linebackers were sharp as well. Jalen Reeves-Maybin was stuffing runs all over the field, and Kenny Bynum was solid backing up A.J.

Special Teams: Bullock didn't have anymore opportunities to kick field goals, and Darr shook off the first poor punt to hit a couple more solid ones in the second half. There will be the occasional clunker from the rising senior, but if he punts the way he did on Saturday, the Vols may not have as many issues replacing Michael Palardy as they'd originally thought.

Coaching: Whether it was set up or not, Jones keeping Hurd and Malone in for most of the day against the reserves really helped fuel the hype surrounding them. Both had memorable first spring games, and it should be a huge momentum boost for them going into the offseason. Jones also did a cool thing by bringing out moving screens set at certain distances downfield for a live skills challenge for his quarterbacks that sent a buzz throughout Neyland Stadium.

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Nebraska Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades and Analysis

On a beautiful afternoon in Lincoln, Neb., the Cornhuskers hosted the annual spring game. In front of an official 61,772 fans, the red team and white team showed off what they've been working on for the past few weeks.

A major difference during this year's scrimmage would be the breakdown of teams, which also affects the scoring system. The starting offense would be the red team, while the starting defense would be the white team. The scoring system would be as follows:


Offense (Red)

Touchdown: 6 points

Field Goal: 3 points

Extra Point: 1 point

2-Point Conversion: 2 points

Plays of 20 Yards or More: 1 point

3 Consecutive First Downs within a Drive: 1 point


Defense (White)

Interception/Fumble Recovery: 6 points

Defensive Touchdown: 12 points (6 for TD, 6 for takeaway)

Sack: 2 points

Three and Out: 1 point

Missed PAT by Offense: 1 point

Unsuccessful 2-Point Conversion Attempt: 2 points

Missed Field Goal: 3 points


Red Squad 55, White Squad 46, Final


First-half analysis for the Nebraska Cornhuskers

Pass Offense: It was a rough start for Tommy Armstrong who threw an interception on the first play of the game. The offense seemed to recover a bit from there, until Zack Darlington was picked off a bit later. Ryker Fyfe has appeared cool and collected at the quarterback position, passing the ball nicely. He was 7-of-8 for 53 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

Rush Offense: Keep an eye out for Imani Cross in 2014. Both have had a big start to the spring game. Cross has 100 yards on six attempts for two touchdowns. He is averaging 16.7 yards per carry.

With Ameer Abdullah sitting out, Cross has shown what this group is capable of in 2014. If it's anything like the first half of the spring game, the rush offense looks tough.

Pass Defense: Two interceptions should really say it all. At this point, the Blackshirts look confident at stopping the pass. Nathan Gerry and Anthony Ridder recorded the interception.

The only note would be the major bust for the defense where Johnny Stanton connected with Kevin Gladney for a touchdown. That will be something that the defense needs to learn from.

Rush Defense: The Blackshirts did a decent job of stopping the run at the beginning of the scrimmage, but the offense seemed to find its rhythm as time went on. Zaire Anderson did record a sack on Armstrong, but beyond that, not much else has happened. Cross is proving to be a difficult force to stop for the Blackshirts.

Special Teams: It's hard to get a good read for this position with the new spring-game format. With no opportunity to see punt returns (minus one drill), it's tough to call. However, Mauro Bondi and Grant Schumacher have done their part with field goals. Both have been as consistent as Husker fans have grown to expect. The only hiccup was the missed field goal by Spencer Lindsay.

Coaching: It all started with Bo Pelini carrying a cat out during the tunnel walk.

From there, it was clear the coaches intended to have fun with the spring game. From a goal-post throwing contest to announcing players' Twitter handles before drills, the coaches have kept the game interesting. From a scrimmage, the staff deserves a lot of praise for showing off but for also not giving too much away.


Second-half analysis for the Nebraska Cornhuskers

Pass Offense: Armstrong redeemed the first-play interception with a 51-yard pass play to Brandon Reilly. That definitely helped boost the passing game's confidence. In the end, he was able to keep from adding any additional interceptions to his day.

However, Tyson Broekemeier did throw a pick, making the Huskers' total three on the day. It's something that will need to be addressed before fall.

Rush Offense: Terrell Newby got a chance to shine in the second half, proving it’s not just Abdullah and Cross leading the way. He ended with 51 yards on 16 attempts and one touchdown. He may have only averaged 3.2 yards per carry, but he proved that between him, Cross and Abdullah, the Huskers are going to be tough at rush offense.

Pass Defense: Three interceptions on the day isn't bad. While the group is far from perfect, it was a shining spot for the Blackshirts. Even Pelini acknowledged their improvement.

"I think our secondary came a long way in the spring," Pelini said. "Not the finished product but we’re going to have some really talented guys."

Rush Defense: The starters definitely looked the most improved after this spring, but those behind were a bit off. Cross showed the Blackshirts where they need to improve. It's not perfect, but the group is young. The positive side is that they're also learning.

Also worth noting, the linebacker group is as deep as it's been in awhile.

Special Teams: Nebraska has had great kickers over the last few years, but today seemed to be a bit of a mess on that front. Bondi ended up missing a field goal wide left, which was disappointing. Pelini acknowledged the issue in his presser, saying it may be time to look forward:

"The bottom line with the [kickers] we have right now, they are capable but none of them are consistent. So enter Drew Brown, so we’ll find out."

What started out OK, ended up being a bit disappointing. This will be something the group will have to focus on before fall.

Coaching: In his post-practice presser, Pelini admitted the coaches wanted to have a little fun. That's exactly what they did. The coaching staff didn't show off too much, but if the attitude showed anything, it's that this team is less tense than last season.


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Georgia Spring Game 2014: Recap, Highlights and Analysis

The Georgia Bulldogs played their annual G-Day spring football game on Saturday, with the Red team earning a 27-24 victory over the Black squad between the hedges at Sanford Stadium.

Highlights of the action can be found on

Fans were able to get their first glimpse of the 2014 UGA football team and did not come away disappointed. A number of players made their debut for the Bulldogs, while plenty of others stepped up into new starting roles.

The complete depth charts for each team can be found here, courtesy of The Red & Black.

No player had more pressure to perform on G-Day than Hutson Mason, the Red team quarterback who guided his side to a win with a sterling performance.

The 22-year-old threw for 188 yards and a touchdown on 17-of-25 passing in one half of play, a statline that Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report tweeted out:

One of those touchdown passes went to senior Michael Bennett, who made a spectacular grab to put points on the board:

Bulldawg Illustrated pointed out that Bennett’s one-on-one battles with sophomore cornerback Shaq Wiggins were one of the highlights of this game:

Mason, a redshirt senior, has been patiently waiting in the wings for four years and finally has his chance to take over for Aaron Murray as a full-time starter. He’s surrounded by weapons and could carry the Dawgs to a national title for the first time since 1980.

The players are working hard to accomplish that goal, and head coach Mark Richt revealed that he is getting on their cases to show improvement, as per Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “We’re pushing them hard,” he said. “And most of them are getting better.”

The future looks quite bright for Georgia beyond this coming season, as Faton Bauta showed off his skills and wound up as the top passer in the contest. The redshirt sophomore had a big day, showing the dual-threat skills that will make him extremely dangerous when he finally gets on the field.

Bauta was vying for the No. 2 job on the depth chart and might have earned it after passing for 231 yards and earning another 39 yards on the ground.

Fans turned out in droves to watch their team, a spectacular showing you can see courtesy of Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald and fan Noel Couch:

Darren Rovell of ESPN noted that the official attendance number was 46,073, by far the highest of any spring game played this year:

Georgia football’s official Twitter informed us that it was the biggest crowd in G-Day history:

Considering the Masters were being played at nearby Augusta National, it’s an even more impressive turnout. Fortunately, the organizers of this game put a live feed of the prestigious major on the big screen at the stadium.

Sallee posted a photo of the crowd erupting for a Bubba Watson eagle:

It was a fitting end to a great game that has the Bulldogs set up for success in 2014. This team has plenty of talent and a lot of weapons, many of which were on display during G-Day.

Make sure you keep an eye on the Dawgs as they look to make a surge back to the top of the SEC this coming campaign.

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Ohio State Student Beats RB Dontre Wilson in 40-Yard Dash at Buckeye Spring Game

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was curious to find out who the fastest student on campus is that isn't on the football team, and he got quite a surprise.

After letting students run the 40-yard dash in recent weeks, the Buckeyes finally found Malcolm Branson. Branson got a chance to race several players, and he didn't disappoint, beating running back Dontre Wilson and tying defensive back Doran Grant.

[Vine, h/t College Spun]

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Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini Brings Cat to Huskers Spring Game

With the Nebraska Cornhuskers getting ready to go out onto the field, head coach Bo Pelini decided to have his cat help lead the charge.

Along with leading the team out onto the field, Pelini raised his cat in the air during the spring game in a "Circle of Life" moment. 

The team's Twitter account posted a picture of the cat as well.

The cat was in honor of the Fake Bo Pelini Twitter account that features a fake picture of Pelini with a cat.


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