College Football's Winners and Losers for 2013 Spring Football
Now that spring practice has concluded, it is time to look back at the winners and losers from 2013 spring football.
The main goals of a coach heading into spring practice are to develop some of the younger players in the program, see what his team has as far as talent goes and avoid injuries. It does not always go according to plan, however.
There were some teams who had great spring practices, while going injury-free in the process. Some teams on the other hand were not so successful, as injuries surfaced over the past few weeks throughout college football.
Here are the winners and losers from 2013 spring football.
Winner: Kevin Hogan
The jury might still be out on Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, especially with some key players having moved on.
Hogan will be without star tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, along with stud running back Stepfan Taylor. Also gone are wide receivers Drew Terrell and Jamal-Rashad Patterson. That was virtually all the receiving touchdowns from the 2012 squad.
For Stanford and head coach David Shaw, the spring game could not have fared any better because some young wide receivers emerged.
In the annual Cardinal & White Game, Hogan and Stanford showed some down-the-field ability that was missing last season. He passed for 170 yards and two touchdowns with Michael Rector and Ty Montgomery emerging as possible threats for the 2013 season.
Loser: Jake Ryan
It is never easy to lose a key player in a regular -game, much less spring practice, but that was the case for the Michigan Wolverines.
Star linebacker Jake Ryan suffered a torn ACL during a practice and the best player on the Wolverines defense could miss the entire 2013 season.
There is a chance he could be back by October, but it is still too early to tell. This leaves a big void at linebacker, a position that might now be a weakness for Michigan.
No doubt that this is a devastating blow for head coach Brady Hoke and his Wolverines.
After everything Arkansas went through with the Bobby Petrino saga just over a year ago, the Razorbacks appear to be on the right track.
Needless to say what a difference a year makes.
In his first year as head coach, Bret Bielema helped attract the largest spring game crowd in the history of Arkansas football. A total of 51,088 showed up to watch Bielema's first game as the head coach of the Razorbacks.
Even though Arkansas only won four games last season, there is little doubt that Bielema will help get things turned around in the years to come.
That makes Arkansas a clear winner this spring.
Loser: Colorado Buffaloes
As if things couldn't get any worse or Colorado in 2013, spring football proved that they easily could.
After winning only one game last season, the Buffaloes headed into the spring with a new head coach in Mike MacIntyre and some optimism.
A few weeks later, that might have been completely squashed.
Starting quarterback Jordan Webb suffered a torn ACL and will likely miss the entire 2013 season. As if that wasn't enough, the man who was the front-runner to take over for Webb, Nick Hirschman has decided to transfer.
MacIntyre will no doubt have his hands full in Boulder this season.
Winner: Tommy Tuberville
After a somewhat tumultuous arrival at Cincinnati, head coach Tommy Tuberville made a big splash during spring practice, and it actually happened off the field.
Tuberville landed former Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel in what came as a huge surprise to most Bearcats fans, even though Kiel was raised less than 50 miles from the Clifton campus.
There is little doubt that Kiel is as high profile as any recruit Cincinnati has ever gotten.
While he will have to sit out a season, there is little doubt that Kiel will be the man under center for Tuberville beginning in 2014.
Loser: Arizona Wildcats
Not many teams suffered as many injuries in the spring as Arizona. The Wildcats lost names like defensive backs Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight along with linebacker Marquis Flowers.
All three of those players are likely to return before the games matter. There is one player who will not.
The most devastating injury came to star wide receiver Austin Hill. Like a few other players on the list, Hill suffered a torn ACL during spring practice.
He was a big part of the offense last season, catching 81 passes for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns.
No doubt, he will be missed in 2013 as an even heavier burden will rest on the shoulders of running back Ka'Deem Carey who has also had a troubled offseason.
Winner: Toomer's Corner and Gus Malzahn
It was quite a successful spring for new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and the Tigers.
After a spring game attendance that totaled 83,401, nearly all of the fans headed over to Toomer's Corner for the final rolling.
That crowd was the largest of any spring game in the SEC, beating out rival Alabama by over 5,000 fans.
No doubt it was an emotional spring, but also a great way to help forget about a 3-9 campaign in 2012.
Give head coach Gus Malzahn some credit since he has arrived.
Loser: USC Trojans
As if conference rival Arizona State did not suffer enough injuries, USC also had its fair share this spring.
The most notable names were running back Silas Redd and safety Su'a Cravens. Both players had surgery during the spring to repair torn meniscus. They, however, should be ready for the start of the season.
Perhaps the most devastating injury as far as the regular season goes is that of wide receiver George Farmer.
Farmer tore his ACL and will be forced to miss the entire 2013 season.
The Pac-12 was definitely hit hard by the injury bug this spring.
Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is known for consistently having higher attendance numbers than almost anybody in college football.
In 2013, head coach Urban Meyer and the Ohio State athletic department decided to travel south and hold the spring game in Cincinnati.
While the crowd was not nearly as high as the Buckeyes are accustomed to in Columbus, 37,643 fans showed up. That is quite a number for a school playing its spring game two hours from its campus, in a city that is known as a professional town.
No question it was a very successful spring for Meyer and the Buckeyes.
Loser: Alabama Offense
This could be a direct result of the talent on the Alabama defense, but the offense simply did not show up for the spring game and head coach Nick Saban was very vocal about it.
The annual A-Day game was won by the White, 17-14. It was not a good day for quarterback AJ McCarron. The fifth-year senior threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
McCarron was not the only quarterback to struggle. Backup Blake Sims only completed half his passes and also threw two interceptions.
While it was not the spring game the Crimson Tide were expecting, there is little doubt that Saban will get things corrected before the start of the regular season.
Winner: Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Nebraska spring game was going according to plan until seven-year-old Jack Hoffman took the field for the Cornhuskers.
The cancer patient has been a Nebraska fan since the day he was born and stepped on to the field for what was likely the biggest moment of his life.
He took a handoff from Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and ran 69 yards for a touchdown. There is no doubt that this was the most tearful moment of the spring.
There is nothing like having 60,000 fans going crazy for a seven-year-old. Truly something Jack and the Nebraska fans will ever forget.
Loser: Notre Dame
Losing a player like Gunner Kiel might not have been as big of a deal to Notre Dame as it was to Cincinnati, but it still might be a lasting blow, considering the potential of a guy like Kiel.
That is certainly not enough to make Notre Dame a loser this spring, but throw in the issues at running back and it was not the best spring for head coach Brian Kelly.
While it appears that George Atkinson III is going to take over the starting job, the man who is likely to be right behind him on the depth chart is USC transfer Amir Carlisle.
Carlisle suffered a broken collarbone and missed a good portion of the spring.
Defensive end Chase Hounsell also suffered a shoulder injury in the first practice in pads of the spring.
Things did not exactly go as planned for Notre Dame over the past month.
Winner: Jadeveon Clowney
The spring game is all about letting the fans get to see the players first-hand. It is not only about who wins or loses, but also about having a little fun.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier knows exactly how to do that, and putting star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on the field for a trick play lightened things up a little bit for the Gamecocks.
Clowney ran on to the field to catch a long pass in his only play of the spring game and gave fans something to go home chatting about.
No question that the biggest concern for Spurrier heading into the spring game was keeping the star healthy.
He not only did that, but also had a little fun in the process.
Loser: Oregon Ducks
It looks like former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly knew exactly when to get out. The new Philadelphia Eagles head coach was apparently not following all of the rules during his time with the Ducks.
In recent weeks, Oregon has been under investigation for what has been considered 'major violations.'
It deals mostly with recruiting from 2008-11 and centers around former head coach Chip Kelly.
While this has nothing to do with what has happened on the field, it certainly puts a damper on a spring that was filled with promise and potential.
No doubt that Oregon will still be one of the top teams in the country in 2013, however.
Winner: Baylor Offense
The Baylor Bears have had one of the best offenses in the country over the past few seasons, and judging by the spring game, it appears they are not going to miss a beat in 2013.
Running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin were dominant as expected, combining for over 200 yards and four touchdowns.
The biggest question mark heading into the spring was the play at the quarterback position with Nick Florence having moved on.
His potential replacement, Bryce Petty was nearly perfect, completing 13 of 15 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while playing in huge winds.
Even though these big numbers came against the Baylor defense, they were still very impressive.
Loser: Auburn Tigers
Even though new head coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers have had some memorable moments this spring, there has been a black cloud over the program in recent months with all of the allegations being raised against the program.
While there are still ongoing investigations, it does not look good for anybody that was involved in the Auburn program just two years ago when quarterback Cam Newton led the team to the national championship.
Head coach Gus Malzahn certainly has his hands full right now, but he has done quite a job keeping the players and fans focused on the present and not the past.
Still, this investigation makes Auburn one of the losers of the spring.
Winner: LSU Defense
A few months ago, it did not look like even the LSU defense would be able to recover from all of the players it lost after the 2012 season.
Now that spring practice has concluded it appears that might not be the case.
With the entire defensive line having to be replaced, that appeared to be the likely weak spot for the Tigers. A few names have emerged along that front and head coach Les Miles must be pleasantly surprised.
One of those players is Ego Ferguson. The junior defensive tackle started the spring game, finishing with seven tackles, one tackle for loss, half a sack and a quarterback hurry.
Fellow tackle Anthony Johnson has also developed into a leader on defense. He is one of the more experienced returning players.
A few cornerbacks have also stepped up, including Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins.
It does not look like this defense is going to miss a beat in 2013.
Loser: Johnny Manziel
Even though he is the reigning Heisman trophy winner, Johnny Manziel certainly does not have any right to be shoving an assistant coach, even if it is a graduate assistant.
It is one thing to get emotional, but it is another to shove a superior.
Manziel had an interesting offseason and it was capped off with this incident.
While it will certainly blow over and was likely just Manziel getting caught up in the moment while an overly excited coach got too pumped up about a practice interception, it did not look good when it happened.
Manziel will need to keep his head screwed on straight this season to be in Heisman contention once again.
Winner: The SEC
One interesting aspect of spring games to look at is attendance. Over the past few years, the SEC has started to dominate in that category and 2013 was no different.
As mentioned earlier, Auburn drew over 82,000. That was tops in the country followed by Alabama and Tennessee.
Also from the SEC was Arkansas at No. 5, Kentucky coming in at No. 6, Texas A&M eighth and Georgia ninth, giving the SEC six of the top nine attendance figures in the SEC.
Throw in South Carolina at No. 11, LSU at 17 and Ole Miss at 18. Mississippi State was No. 23 and Missouri No. 24.
These figures gave the SEC half of the top 24 in attendance.
Not a bad spring for the best conference in college football.
Loser: Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators
Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has had enough struggles the past few months at Florida dealing with injuries, particularly to the offensive line that he did not need the Auburn story to surface when it did.
Due to so many injuries, Muschamp made the spring game nothing more than a glorified practice.
When he was not on the field coaching his team, Muschamp spent a large portion of the past few weeks answering questions about the investigation going on at Auburn.
Muschamp was an assistant coach at Auburn and allegedly gave former Auburn player Mike McNeil $400. Muschamp denied the allegations, but it certainly had to serve as some type of distraction this spring for himself and the Gators.
Winner: Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky has never been a football school and likely never will be, but don't tell that to the 50,831 Big Blue faithful who showed up for the Wildcats spring game. That number is a far cry from the 4,500 who turned out last year.
New head coach Mark Stoops has brought a different attitude to the program, something that the school has not seen in quite some time.
Now, he is never likely to be as popular as John Calipari, but he is on the right track to make Kentucky football relevant again.
Loser: Florida State Seminoles
Florida State was another team that suffered through a series of injuries during spring practice, particularly at the running back position.
Running back was one of the deepest positions on the field for the Seminoles heading into spring practice and injuries to James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman and Mario Pender have quickly put a damper on that.
While none of these injuries are going to last into the season, the recent transfer of quarterback Clint Trickett hurts the depth at that position.
It is unknown whether Trickett would have beat out Jameis Winston for the starting job, but now Winston will likely be the man under center for the Seminoles.
Losing an experienced quarterback like Trickett is not good news for head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles.
Winner: Everett Golson
Even though it has not been a great spring for Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly, that is not exactly the case for quarterback Everett Golson.
With news that Gunner Kiel was transferring to Cincinnati, Golson can now relax a little bit as he is almost a certainty to be the starting quarterback for 2013 and beyond.
Kiel had a chance to knock him out of the starting role with a good spring and an excellent fall, but now the team will be Golson's for likely the next three seasons.
No doubt that the transfer of Kiel was excellent news for Golson.
Loser: Pittsburgh Panthers
Even though Pittsburgh lost most of its skill position players from the 2012 team, one player who was returning was sophomore running back Rushel Shell.
Shell showed signs of just how talented he was last season as a freshman and was in line to be the go-to guy on offense for the Panthers in 2013.
He recently decided to transfer to UCLA, leaving Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst and his Panthers in a world of hurt.
It might be a long year in the ACC for this squad.
Winner: Jameis Winston
Similar to Everett Golson from Notre Dame, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a player who is going to benefit from the transfer of another player at his position.
Clint Trickett who was likely to be the starter for the Seminoles in 2013 decided to transfer and it looks like the redshirt freshman Winston will be the man running the show.
Even though head coach Jimbo Fisher would not commit to Winston, it would be very unlikely if Jacob Coker or Sean Maguire beat him out for the starting role.
He was certainly one of the big individual winners this spring.
Loser: Wake Forest Offense
There is no question in college football that defense wins championships, but it might take just a little bit of offense as well.
The Wake Forest offense only managed two first downs, one of them via a penalty. The final score of the game was 3-0.
Now, only coming up with two first downs in a 70-minute game is something to be concerned with.
While the defense might be a strength of the team, the offense could certainly use some work.
Winner: UCLA Bruins
UCLA burst onto the scene in 2012 with a huge season under first-year head coach Jim Mora Jr.
The Bruins will look to continue that in 2013, and while spring practice did not go completely according to plan, particularly with struggles along the offensive line, the decision of Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell to transfer was music to Mora Jr.'s ears.
While he will have to sit out a year, he will likely be able to step into the starting role beginning in 2014.
With the recruiting class Mora Jr. and the Bruins put together, it appears things are headed in the right direction.
Loser: Connecticut Huskies
Connecticut is not only coming off two straight losing seasons and heading to a new conference, but spring practice also didn't go as planned.
The Huskies suffered numerous injuries throughout the spring and turned the spring game into a virtual practice.
While a lot of the injured players were starters, it does not appear that many of those injuries are going to last into the regular season.
Good thing for Connecticut is it did not suffer any more injuries during the final practice.