College Football: Debunking the Relevance of Spring Games
The books are officially closed on college football’s annual teaser season.
And just like a 30-second teaser trailer for a two-hour blockbuster film keeps cinema fans guessing, college football fans still have no idea what the 2013 season is really going to be about.
Some questions were answered, most weren’t.
The 50,000 strong that attended the Kentucky spring game (Via UKAthletics.com) will tell you that football is, in fact, cool again in Lexington.
However, excitement around the program won’t guarantee improvement on UK’s abysmal 2-10 finish in 2012.
Elsewhere in the Southeastern Conference, even more questions were left open. For example, will Florida have enough bodies to compete in 2013?
The Gators didn’t even have enough offensive linemen to run a proper spring game, forcing them to resort to literally televising a practice (Via GatorZone.com).
Spring games are often referred to as glorified spring practices anyway, but the fans in Gainesville were treated to a rousing afternoon featuring special teams drills—making it hard to figure out what to expect from Jeff Driskel in his second year as the starting quarterback or who is going to replace All-SEC running back Mike Gillislee.
The Gators aren’t the only team with personnel issues, either, as nearly every program still has gaping holes in their spring depth charts.
There might not be a better example of this than West Virginia, which will attempt to replace the three most productive offensive players in school history while also improving on one of the nation’s worst defenses from 2012.
WVU’s most scrutinized position right now remains at quarterback, and that job is as up in the air as any other depth chart slot in the country. Neither junior Paul Millard nor Ford Childress impressed during workouts.
Their performance this spring proved to be even less important when the Mountaineers added another viable option to the race, recently accepting the transfer of Clint Trickett from Florida State (Via WVUSports.com).
Even before the addition of Trickett, head coach Dana Holgorsen used some classic coachspeak to sum up his situation (Via WVUSports.com):
The team we field in September is going to look a lot different…Not only are we not ready to name a starter at quarterback, we’re not ready to do that at about 20 other positions.
Statements like this one from Holgorsen come out of the mouth of all head coaches this time of the year. However, the Shakespeare of coachspeak—the official language of spring football—is Alabama’s Nick Saban.
The defending national champion Crimson Tide tallied nine turnovers in their spring game and Saban was understandably dissatisfied, despite taking the champion’s visit to the White House in April (Via SportsIllustrated.com).
The biggest thing I was concerned about was how the team would go out there and what would be their energy, their enthusiasm, and their attention to detail. So, mental intensity. I don't think that there were enough guys that answered that question in a positive way to my liking. But I’m never satisfied.
So do the nine turnovers and rough day from quarterback A.J. McCarron, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, mean that the Tide will slip off the top spot on the preseason rankings?
Don’t count on it. Despite the ugly spring game showing, Alabama is still Alabama, and it will still be the national title favorite in 2013.
Plus, if the players currently on the ‘Bama roster can’t do the job, a new wave of freshmen will be joining this fall. Football programs all around the country will be adding upwards of 30 new athletes to the fold—how can we have any idea of what the team will actually look like if 25 percent of the athletes aren’t even on campus yet?
So if your team couldn’t even hold a spring game, if its depth chart is in disarray or if the athletes are simply lacking that championship mentality, don’t worry.
We still have a long way to go before real football starts this fall.
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