NCAA Football News
Fans watched the Michigan football team go through its final workout at Michigan Stadium, but those expecting a game left disappointed.
Earlier in the week Brady Hoke had announced that the spring “game” would consist of a typical practice followed by a scrimmage between the offense and defense. No score was kept and, in a bid to minimize potential injuries, special teams were not part of the proceedings.
But for a fan base still smarting from last season’s 7-6 start, the chance to see Michigan back on the field was a welcome sight.
Many were eager to see the new offense installed by Doug Nussmeier but instead saw some of the same problems that plagued the team last season—interceptions and a porous offensive line.
Despite the limited format of the scrimmage, the performance of some players gave fans hope that Michigan is in the midst of rebounding from last season’s November collapse.
Although James Franklin has gotten off to a tremendous start as Penn State's new head coach, there are still some issues he needs to sort out.
For the most part, the Nittany Lions are in good shape. They return an uber-talented quarterback, are loaded with offensive weapons to accommodate him and have some experience on defense as well.
Nevertheless, there's still a fair share of question marks floating around. From offensive line depth to special teams concerns, Franklin will utilize the 2014 spring game as a way to assess some of the dilemmas that need solving.
Here are five unanswered questions heading into Penn State's spring game.
Auburn receivers coach Dameyune Craig quickly built a reputation as a top-notch talent-acquisition specialist, having helped reel in players such as quarterback Jameis Winston at Florida State.
So when Craig says a player is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, it’s worth taking note.
That’s precisely what Craig said of D’haquille Williams—rated by 247Sports as the No. 1 junior college transfer in the nation.
Williams quickly became a crown jewel in Auburn’s 2014 signing class, immediately eliciting comparisons to the impact Cordarrelle Patterson had in his one year at Tennessee.
With Williams in the fray, AL.com’s Brandon Marcello reported that Craig has expressed this year’s Auburn receiving corps could potentially be the best in the nation.
For defenses that couldn’t slow down Gus Malzahn’s attack in the first year, the idea of tremendous improvement in Year 2 should be terrifying.
Receiver Sammie Coates, who emerged as Auburn’s go-to target in 2013, returns after finishing with 902 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Now Coates has a running mate who could supplant him as the most dangerous threat in the offense.
It took no time for Williams to draw praise from teammates.
“D’haquille is probably going to be a great player for us this year,” safety Jermaine Whitehead said to AL.com after the second day of spring practice. “He reminds me a lot of Sammie. He can get vertical fast. He also likes to put his foot in the ground and make plays across the field.”
Williams won’t be the only reason for Auburn’s improved passing game.
Because of his breakout season in 2013, it’s easy to forget that quarterback Nick Marshall is now halfway through his first spring practice under Malzahn.
Marshall didn’t enroll at Auburn until summer 2013, meaning he didn’t practice with the program until August.
He quickly claimed the starting position.
However, Tigers coaches quickly realized the need to play to the team’s strengths.
Marshall didn’t have enough reps in Malzahn’s offense to develop fully as a passer, and the Tigers young receivers needed more time to mature.
The result was a reliance on tailback Tre Mason and the run game—including Marshall’s ability to tuck the ball and make defenses pay for focusing too much attention on Mason.
Now Marshall has time to jell with a more seasoned crew, headlined by another big-impact junior college transfer in Williams.
Marshall and Malzahn both like what they’ve seen so far.
Despite enormous expectations surrounding Williams, he is apparently focusing on the little things that make all the difference to Malzahn.
“I just have to adjust to the fast-paced offense,” Williams said to Phillip Marshall of AuburnTigers.com after his second practice. “We ran no-huddle in junior college, but it wasn’t this fast.”
Malzahn declared to AL.com that he wants to press down harder on the gas in Year 2 than he did during his initial season as head coach at Auburn, which yielded an SEC Championship.
Having a talent who lives up to the considerable hype Craig placed on Williams would put Malzahn’s offense on the same level as Oregon’s or Baylor’s.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Charlie Strong has doled out his fair share of praise to his Texas Longhorns. Others have not been so fortunate, and they need to get things turned out this spring.
With the significant changes Strong has mandated both on and off the field, the presence of a learning curve is inevitable. As long as the vast majority of the team continues to embrace the new culture, the rest of the group will fall in line.
But if these four Longhorns want to capitalize on the opportunity at hand, they need to make that happen sooner rather than later.