In the second installment of our 2009 Spring Flings, we take a look at a few of the story lines that caught our attention over the past seven days or so. Like last week we also conclude with some quick recaps of what we are hearing for those with short attention spans (like myself).
Early reports out of the Huskies' camp indicate the no-huddle transformation over at UConn is legit. Gone is the ball control offense that, like an anaconda, made its main purpose to slowly choke the life from its foe. In its place is a no-huddle upbeat attack orchestrated by offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
Still this is head coach Randy Edsall's team, and he won't lose sight of what has helped build his successful program in Storrs. Unlike Auburn last year, not everything will be revamped. The run game will still be an integral part of the 2009 offense.
"Our run game is really going to be the same as we've been doing. We haven't changed our run game at all," Edsall said. Even though the tempo changes, Edsall and Moorhead will still rely on a balanced attack that will feature the run.
Like everything Edsall does, the changes will be done methodically. "We have certain things we'll put in, we'll take it a week at a time, we'll put things in that first week; we'll go the second week and put in more things and then on the third week, we're going to go back and repeat what we did the first week and then the fourth week we're going to go back and repeat what we did the second week...We're going to go as fast as we have to but yet we want to be able to have some consistency with what we're doing as well. We have a plan that we want to get accomplished and what we want to come out with and I'm quite sure we'll get that accomplished."
Yes the more things change the more they remain the same.
UConn is not the only school to catch the no-huddle bug this spring. Iowa State hopes to keep pace with the high-powered teams in the Big XII with their own version of the no-huddle spread attack. New offensive coordinator Tom Herman comes over from Rice, and fantasy owners are well aware of the numbers the Owls have posted the last two years while under his tutelage.
Herman began installing his no-huddle offense on Tuesday. It is unrealistic to assume quarterback Austen Arnaud can come close to being as effective as Chase Clement was at Rice. However, he is still one to watch closely. As is wide receiver Darius Darks, who had an outstanding freshman campaign with 49 catches for 477 yards and a score. If all goes to plan, those numbers are expected to increase, making Arnuad and Darks two dark horse fantasy candidates this fall.
"I get no respect"
In a recent blog on al.com, Alabama beat writer Gentry Estes wonders if Bama's starting running back is even on campus yet.
"Leading rusher Glen Coffee bolted a year early for the NFL draft, and the top candidate to replace him as Alabama's No. 1 tailback may not yet be with the team. Coaches love recent signee Trent Richardson of Pensacola, Fla., who has as good a chance as anyone to be the Crimson Tide's version of Coffee in 2009."
Richardson is a top talent and a legitimate threat to see significant carries this fall. However, Mark Ingram proved his worth last fall. Maybe we are biased, but we see Ingram assuming Glenn Coffee's role from a season ago. And Richardson will have the chance to be a significant contributor, much like Ingram was last year as a true freshman.
From Estes to our faithful readers who believe our ranking of Ingram is too high, Ingram gets "no respect". In all fairness, Estes does a great job covering the Tide and does give Ingram credit for last year's performance.
Get ready for spring to heat up
There has been relatively little to get excited about so far this spring. That should change as fantasy heavyweights Houston and Tulsa kicked off spring ball on Tuesday. Now a bit of a caveat here, the coaches for both teams are notoriously tight-lipped. But we'll get some information on how practices are shaking out over the next two weeks.
Auburn and new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn also cranked things up on Tuesday. Keeping a close eye on the quarterback position will be a priority, and looking for playmakers from the skill positions will be another focus.
The Big Ten and Pac-10 will also be getting into the act over the next few days. Michigan, Arizona and Cal were the only teams that were in full swing prior to this week. Other notables that begin practice next week are Cincinnati, SMU and UTEP
What we are hearing
- Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is pulling away at Missouri. He's going to be the guy.
- Quarterback Joe Cox seems to be doing the same for Georgia.
- Quarterback Kevin Riley looks sharp thus far for Cal
- Expect a long and drawn out quarterback battle at Michigan State.
- Jacob Bower opens up spring as the leader for the Tulsa quarterback job.
- Wide receiver Adron Tennell is stepping into the role as the starter on the outside for the Sooners.
- Running back Carlton Thomas is tearing up the Georgia practice field. Keep in mind Richard Samuel (wrist surgery) and Dontavius Jackson (knee) are sitting out spring due to injury.
- South Carolina's offense is clicking early. Is it finally quarterback Stephen Garcia's time?
- Charles Scott will see some time at fullback this spring. Mmmmm more goal line carries.
- Freshman Dion Lewis is making a run at the starting job in Pitt's ground attack.
- UConn running backs Andre Dixon and Meme Wylie have looked good so far this spring.
- Oklahoma State's Josh Cooper is staking his claim as the Cowboys' #2 receiver behind Dez Bryant.
- LaMichael James' name has been hot and practice hasn't even started yet.
- Oregon kicks off spring practice on March 30...let the LeGarrette Blount watch officially begin