Spring is in the air, my alma mater (Michigan State) is in another Final Four and pads are cracking on campuses country wide. Life is good.
A few teams have already wrapped drills with their spring games over the weekend, while others will kick things off this week. So where do we stand, what's happening and what's new? Let's find out...
Red Raider Offense - On the surface, Tech's offense looks similar to last season. You still have four wide, with two inside receivers and two outside receivers. And the quarterback is going to predominately line up in the shotgun. But there are differences between offensive coordinator Neal Brown's (who's only 29 years old, by the way) version of the spread and that of Mike Leach. Troy won't be as firm in their wide receiver alignments under Brown. You'll see motion out of the receivers and we'll probably see Detron Lewis or Tramain Swindall carry the ball some out of that motion. Overall, the pass-first mentality remains. However, in Brown's two seasons as Troy's offensive coordinator, Troy threw the ball 58 percent in 2008 and 54 percent of the time in 2009. Compared to the 60+ percent clip the Red Raiders were chucking it under Mike Leach. Troy ran the ball 448 times in 2008 and 444 times in 2009, compared to 317 and 319 during that same time for Tech under Leach. Tech does return a veteran group of quarterbacks and receivers, and they don't have any one that can run as well as Jerrel Jernigan from the slot, so I suspect when it is all said and done you are looking at roughly 570 passes to 420 runs on the season for Tech. On the quarterback front, Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield have been taking even snaps with the first unit so far.
The Fastest Owl - Running back Sam McGuffie had a strong spring, rushing for two touchdowns Rice's first scrimmage and capping it off with a touchdown reception in the spring game on Saturday. He brings speed and explosiveness to the Rice offense. But he remains a fantasy wild card. He has the potential and schedule to be a top fantasy back, but there are still questions as to how he will be used and just how many carries he will see. Rice running backs ran the ball just 289 times in 2009. Considering most top backs register over 200 carries and the Owls return Charles Ross and Tyler Smith, opportunities look bleak. The Owls could adjust their game to feature McGuffie more, much like SMU did with Shawnbrey McNeal. Or McGuffie could be a 12-15 touch per game guy. Make sure to factor in both the risk and reward when slotting McGuffie on your draft board.
Down on the Bayou - LSU also wrapped up spring drills on Saturday. Two things are clear: you'll want to avoid the LSU quarterback situation and watch out for running back Mike Ford. Stevan Ridley is still considered the starter, but Ford is coming on fast.
Eugene Correctional - Obviously the biggest news of the spring so far is not what has happened on the field, but off it. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is out and Nate Costa and Darron Thomas will fight it out to replace him. Running back LaMichael James appears to have escaped his troubles with a one-game slap on the wrist. His grades are in order, and fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief.
Where will Bryce Brown end up? - I guess the first question is, does anyone really care? Despite his glory hound antics in the past, I actually feel for the kid a little bit. He's obviously had a lot come at him fast, and he may be getting steered by the wrong people. His appearance at Tennessee's practice after leaving the team is bizarre and screams of a kid that is simply confused. Maybe Lane Kiffin can comfort him at USC...
Over on the Island - The news that receiver Rodney Bradley (broken leg) might redshirt is disturbing. But it's still early. Our Hawaii insider says to file away the name Darius Bright. Big athletic kid that could fill in for Bradley if he is not well. This is the same insider that told us to watch out for Bradley and quarterback Greg Alexander when they arrived on campus. So when he talks, we listen.
BYU QB Battle - Based on all the practice reports Jake Heaps has looked sharp, engineering multiple scoring drives during scrimmages and situational play. If he continues at this pace, he'll lock up the job in early August.
Holgorsen update #52 - Dana Holgorsen is busy installing a new offense this spring. A few roster notables: Brandon Weeden has a firm grasp on the starting quarterback job and Tracy Moore, a hybrid TE/WR, is officially listed as a wide receiver on Oklahoma State's 2010 roster.
Don't forget about Jamie Hampton - If you're looking to snag a backup quarterback late in the draft, take a look at Troy's Jamie Hampton. His knee is healthy, and he threw the ball well in the Trojans last scrimmage.
"I'm Back" - Those are the words Middle Tennessee running back Phillip Tanner is sporting on his wristband these days. After missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury, Tanner should be a welcome addition to the Blue Raiders offense. However, D.D. Kyles led all rushers with 25 yards on six carries in Saturday's scrimmage. Keep an eye on Tanner this spring and fall; he could turn into a late round sleeper candidate.
Over in the Sunshine State - If spring is any indication -- and it was last year -- Florida State is in for another long year on defense and Miami might be as well. The Seminoles are tweaking their scheme and playing more zone with their linebackers, allowing them to attack and make plays, but thus far it doesn't appear to be working as the Seminoles racked up 282 rushing yards in the their first scrimmage. Miami's unit didn't fare much better, yielding 452 yards passing in their Spring Game. Do you remember the days when the Seminoles and Canes were must-have fantasy defenses? It is becoming a distant memory. Also pay attention to the potential RBBC brewing at FSU.
Is it really Mario Fannin Time? - There are guys we simply can't let go of. And every spring Fannin seems to one of those guys. I predict he starts the opening game against Arkansas State, but you're looking at a running back rotation with Onterio McCalebb and freshman Michael Dyer.
Duke is Duke - With Mike Krzyzewski guiding the Blue Devils to his 11th Final Four, I doubt many people in Durham, North Carolina even knew they started spring practice, let alone completed it on Saturday. Not much was expected out of future starting quarterback Sean Renfree after tearing his ACL last November. But the future starter went through just about all of spring drills, except for scrimmages. He obviously didn't participate in Saturday's spring game, but running back Desmond Scott did, rushing for 97 yards on 13 carries. Add in wide receiver Donovan Varner and coach David Cutcliffe has the pieces to make this a pretty good offense this fall.