You can’t read too much into spring games, but they do offer some insight into potential and weak spots. These things mostly give fans a chance to raise their hopes anew while letting the new faces on the field experience a taste of what’s to come when the stadiums are packed with screaming fans.
Tommy Duff, Editor of The Kickoff college football newsletter, offered some thoughts on top teams across the sport after watching them do their spring thing.
Any talk about championships in the making has to include Alabama and Clemson, who spent the last couple of years trading victories in title games. Duff said Clemson has talent at quarterback, even with Deshaun Watson off the roster.
“Clemson’s problem is that they lost wide receivers and running backs as well as Watson, so it’s going to be a whole lot of fresh faces on offense,” Duff said. “As for Bama, the coaching situation is a mess on offense. How good of a passer can Jalen Hurts be?”
In the spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Hurts completed 16 of 25 passes for 301 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was also sacked seven times (tagged is more accurate since Nick Saban didn’t want his defenders slamming his probable starter into the turf). Freshman Tua Tagovaila out of Hawaii also had 3 TDs and an interception, completing 18 of 30 passes for 315 yards.
Other thoughts from Duff:
“(Baylor transfer quarterback) Jarrett Stidham looked very good for Auburn. He finished the spring game 16-of-20 for 267 yards and ran in a touchdown fumbled by the running back.”
“Georgia looked solid, but I’m still not sold on how they utilize their talent on offense. They’re strong talent-wise, but the Bulldogs have never utilized their speed at wide receiver. We have to wait and see how Jacob Eason develops at quarterback.”
“LSU still has an impressive running game, but it remains to be seen whether they can take advantage of their weapons at wide receiver. I’m excited to see how good Derrius Guice can be without Leonard Fournette taking carries.
“Tennessee’s spring game format is still difficult to understand. The scoring makes no sense. It looked as though the DBs were instructed to play soft, leaving intermediate passes wide open, and there were a lot of walk-ons playing against first teamers, creating easily exploited mismatches. The weather didn’t help either since they canceled the second half.
“I want to see what happens with quarterback situations at Tennessee and Florida. Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are competing to replace Joshua Dobbs while Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have battled for the No. 1 spot for the Gators.”
“Miami may take a step back this year without Brad Kaaya. He was a good quarterback. I think Mark Richt is probably a year away.”
“I wish I knew how the NCAA situation will affect Ole Miss. We’ll just have to see how the appeals process plays out.”
Of course, there are 130 teams all hoping to play in Atlanta on January 8th. As we move closer to the start of the regular season on August 26th, The Kickoff will be sure to offer more insight into the pool of talent and prognosticate performance.
Duff is hard at work on the 20th issue of the year, due out next week. In it, he’ll take a close look at the familiar faces from college ball that we’ll see playing in the NFL.