There's no place like Saturday...

April 12, 2011

First Quarter Hail Mary...Spring Game Edition

"...where completion is considered unlikely"
Spring Game Updates

Stanford: The biggest task at hand for new head coach David Shaw will be putting together a defense capable of keeping the Cardinal in games. Shaw’s second assignment: sitting back and watching Andrew Luck make opposing defenses look silly.

Shaw got a chance to do both at Stanford’s spring game Saturday. Luck completed 16 of 22 passes for 165 yards and three scores. All three of Luck’s touchdowns went to reserve tight end Zach Ertz, who brought in six catches for 64 yards, along with the three scores. Backup quarterback Josh Nunes completed 12 of 19 passes for 180 yards and a score.

The Cardinal defeated the White 42-3, showing Shaw he’s got at least one defense capable of holding points off the board.

Clemson: Quarterback Tajh Boyd made his first impression on Tigers fans as the starting quarterback Saturday. Boyd had an up and down performance, completing just eight of 24 passes for 114 yards and a score. He also rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown.

While Boyd was dissatisfied with his performance, head coach Dabo Swinney has been pleased with Boyd’s overall performance this spring.

“Boyd is clearly the starter,” Swinney told The State newspaper. “I’m really pleased with Tajh and what he’s done…but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to perform. That doesn’t mean he can cut corners.”

The biggest story of the Clemson spring game came from the ground game, where three rushers nearly ran for over 100 yards. With starter Andre Ellington on the shelf for the game, backup tailbacks stepped up. Demont Buice ran for 102 yards and a score on 18 carries, Roderick McDowell brought in 100 yards on 12 carries and DJ Howard rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels held a relatively short spring game Saturday, composed of just 50 plays. New starting quarterback Bryn Renner passed for 123 yards and a score on nine of 13 passing.

Renner’s favorite targets next fall appear to be wideouts Erik Highsmith and Dwight Jones who brought in a combined eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Renner has already started giving all the credit to his receivers.

“I thought I did alright, but I know I’ve got a lot more to learn," Renner told the team’s official site. "I worked the ball to Dwight a lot today and he made me look good. He has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the country.”

Starting tailback Ryan Houston had just two carries for 22 yards on the day. Defensive end Quinton Coples, who could have a huge season, brought in six tackles and a sack.

Florida: Clearly the biggest issue surrounding the University of Florida this offseason has been working in a new offense directed by new offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis. Saturday, the Gators did just that, yet the new offense gave the same old results.

Last year’s starting quarterback John Brantley, who was also named the Gators starter this spring, completed just four of 14 passes for 45 yards. Freshman phenom Jeff Driskel, who graduated in January, completed three of eight passes for 29 yards.

Both Brantley and Driskel were outperformed by backups Tyler Murphy and Chris Provancha. Murphy threw for 68 yards and a touchdown on seven of 11 passing, while Provancha, a walk on, rallied the Blue team to a victory, completing a 39-yard touchdown pass to Robert Clark with just 45 seconds remaining.
LSU: The Tigers spring game was supposed to shed light on which quarterback would look ready to lead the 2011 team. Saturday, however, that didn't happen.

Senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson passed for 102 yards and an interception on four of 14 passing. He also rushed for 31 yards. Senior Jarett Lee completed nine of 14 passes for 63 yards and an interception, while junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger, thought to give Jefferson the most competition, completed five of eight passes for 86 yards and an interception.

While no quarterback necessarily impressed under new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe’s offense, it didn’t stop head coach Les Miles from naming Jefferson the starter once again.

“He continues to get better,” Miles told the Weekly Citizen speaking about Jefferson. “He is making much better decisions. He has clearly improved. He can describe what he sees, how he sees the play and his description. Steve has done a great job.”

If there’s one thing clear about the Tigers new offense; It looks to be focused around the ground game, particularly running back Spencer Ware. The sophomore rushed for 94 yards and two scores on 13 carries and caught two passes for 50 yards. It was an impressive performance for the youngster coming off of a season ending notable performance in the Cotton Bowl.

Redshirt freshman runner Jakhari Gore, yes, cousin of Frank, rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries. Wideout Kadron Boone led all receivers with four catches for 77 yards and a score.

South Carolina: The biggest story surrounding the Gamecocks football team this offseason has been focused on starting quarterback Stephen Garcia, but it hasn’t been for his play through spring practice, but rather his fifth suspension since joining the team.

Suspended indefinitely on April 6, there's been no word yet on when, or if, the suspension will be released on Garcia. Since the suspension, backup quarterback Connor Shaw has taken over the starting duties and remained the starter in the Gamecocks spring game Saturday.

Shaw passed for 176 yards and a touchdown on 17 of 27 passing. Shaw’s current backup, Dylan Thompson, passed for 168 yards, a score and two interceptions on six of 13 passes.

Starting running back Marcus Lattimore received just three carries for 19 yards. Sophomore wideout DeAngelo Smith brought in four catches for 118 yards and three scores.

Notable Spring Games Saturday, April 16: UConn, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Utah and Boise State

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