Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring is here and so is college football

While the NFL is still battling on labor issues with its players, college programs started spring practice.  These practices symbolize that football is in full spring on college campuses.  Most programs culminate the spring training session of 15 practices with a big intra-squad scrimmage.  They are usually dubbed by the schools colors.  For example, Florida has the “Orange and Blue” game every spring.  At The University of Michigan, it is simply, “Michigan Spring Game.”

At some universities the scrimmage is just an open practice that allows students, alumni and fans to see the team run plays.  At the larger programs, it has become just as big as the first home game with all of the fanfare, tailgating and display of school pride that you see in the fall.  Last year, the Florida Gators attracted close to 51,000 fans to their scrimmage.  Ohio State packed over 65,000 fans in the Horseshoe to see them last spring.

These scrimmages provide a good snapshot at the team’s development as they transition from last season.  How is the new coach directing the team?  Are players buying into the new coach’s message?  How does the offense or defense look after losing several players to graduation and/or the NFL draft?  Who will be the starting quarterback?  These are some of the questions that fans look to get answers for watching the spring game.

A lot has happened since the BCS Championship game.  Here are a couple of spring games that I think are noteworthy.

1.     Auburn – The Tigers lost the foundation and strength of their offense to the NFL Draft.  How they will replace the speed, rushing yards and size of Cam Newton will be interesting.
2.     Nebraska – This will be the Cornhuskers first scrimmage as a member of the Big Ten.  They were the Big 12 North Champions last year, but everyone is curious to see how they will fare in the oldest football conference.
3.     Ohio State – With Terrelle Pryor and Head Coach Jim Tressel out for the first five games of the season, fans will want to see how the backups fill in.
4.     Michigan – After three years of being embarrassed on the gridiron, the wolverines have a “Michigan Man” back at the helm of the program.  Head Coach, Brady Hoke, has one mission - restore greatness back to college’s most winningest program.  He has been clear about his expectations to win Big Ten titles and beat Ohio State.  All eyes will be on Michigan Stadium on April 16 to see the strides that he is making.


 Heels & Helmets®

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