We Talkin' 'Bout Spring Practice: Ohio State, Michigan trade jabs; FSU TE injured
With spring football taking place across the country, Campus Union has decided to round up all of the important news and notes from each week in practice.
• There's nothing like a little verbal sparring between Ohio State and Michigan. Buckeyes offensive line coach Ed Warinner took a shot at Wolverines coach Brady Hoke at an Ohio State fundraising event this week. Warinner made a comment concerning Michigan allegedly losing its playbooks, saying, "I heard Brady [Hoke] was upset because he hadn't finished coloring them."
Hoke shot back during a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor on Thursday. Via the Detroit Free Press:
“Obviously there’s enough people that keep you informed of what’s going on,” Hoke said. “The one thing around here is we try and always stay in between the lines. That’s important with how you handle your program.”
• Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary was involved in a serious motorcycle incident last summer, but came away with only minor injuries. O'Leary found himself in yet another motorcycle wreck this week, and he'll miss spring practice as a result. It appears the grandson of golfer Jack Nicklaus was lucky to walk away without serious injuries. Per TomahawkNation's Bud Elliott:
"I do not have confirmation on the exact injuries, other than that while they are enough to keep him out of spring ball, they are not serious or life threatening."
Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed the injury on Wednesday and told reporters that he hopes O'Leary is learning his lesson.
"I can be frustrated," Fisher said. "He needs to be frustrated. It's not important if I'm frustrated. What's important is if he's frustrated."
As the Nittany Lions continue to face NCAA scholarships restrictions handed down after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Franklin told reporters this week that the roster's depth has been a concern during spring practice. Franklin said he is contacting incoming freshmen on Twitter and telling them that they should expect to see the field early and often. Per Lions247:
"We’re going to have to play a lot of freshmen. I typically would prefer not to do that, but I’ve already been direct messaging these guys and telling them they need to come in with the mentality that they’re going to play.
“Typically, there are positions like offensive line that you would like to redshirt. You’re where you’re at as a program with really good offensive linemen and defensive linemen playing by their sophomore year. We’re going to have to play all these guys as true freshmen and just grow with them.”
Emerson reports that while Marshall has performed well in spring practice, using the redshirt at his disposal could benefit the Bulldogs in the long run. Per running backs coach Bryan McClendon:
"Right now the plan is to see how far along he is, and then do what's going to be best for him," McClendon said. "That's going to be priority No. 1. To do what's best for him. And that way, I think everybody will be able to sleep good at night."
In five games last season before tearing his ACL at Tennessee on Oct. 5, Marshall carried 56 times for 246 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He ran for 759 yards and eight scores as a true freshman in 2012.
• Kentucky is looking to name its starting quarterback as quickly as it can. Five players are vying for the spot during spring practice: Drew Barker, Reese Phillips, Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown told reporters this week that the sooner the coaches can decide on a starter, the better off the roster will be.
“I want to get it whittled down from a rep standpoint. We want to name a starter sooner than we did last year, but we’re not going to give a false deadline. It would be like your editor saying you have to get it done by 12 o’clock, but it really didn’t matter if you get it done by 12. It’s the same kind of deal. I want to get it done faster. I think it’s important for our football team, but we’re going to do our due diligence on it.”
Smith and Whitlow both saw significant playing time last year; Smith passed for 1,276 yards with nine touchdowns, and Whitlow threw for 1,033 yards with five scores. Still, Kentucky finished 11th in the SEC in passing efficiency.
• Tennessee coach Butch Jones knows he has a good problem on his hands: He has too many options at running back. Seniors Devrin Young and Marlin Lane are working to hold off five-star early enrollee Jalen Hurd. Jones said this week that his backfield has a variety of skill sets, and it's only a matter of time before someone separates from the pack.
"It is big that we play complementary football, especially at the running back position," said Jones. "Everyone has a different skill set and now it is our job as coaches to put them in position where they can take advantage and use their individual skill sets to our advantage as a football team. Each of them brings a different dynamic to it. And we welcome two more running backs come June, so we are excited about that position."
• Vanderbilt's SEC opener against Ole Miss on Sept. 6 will be played at Nashville's LP Field, home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans. The matchup will be the first off-campus meeting between the Commodores and Rebels since 1966, when the teams met in Jackson, Miss.
In a press conference from LP Field on Thursday, first-year Commodores coach Derek Mason said the program is pleased to open its SEC slate in an NFL venue.
"We're truly excited about the opportunity to play here at LP," Mason said. "For us, it's an opportunity to play in a venue that feels like home. You look at Nashville, this is home. We have our home field, but this opportunity for our kids, and to grow our fan base, is welcomed. We're truly excited about it."
LP Field boasts a capacity of just more than 69,000 fans. The Commodores' regular home of Vanderbilt Stadium seats fewer than 41,000.
• As Texas' first new head coach in 17 years, Charlie Strong has been tasked with developing his own unique style and atmosphere. According to Longhorns players, that intensity is paying dividends this spring.
"Probably grind meat," Brown said. "Tough. Hard. All those little words you can think of but it is definitely good for us. It is real physical and he wants that to be our mentality. It is working. You can tell guys are getting use to hitting and going at it and we are lasting longer at the end of practice and we are trying to grind it out."
• New Oregon State offensive coordinator John Garrett knows the old axiom: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In his first spring in charge of the Beavers' offense, Garrett, who came to Corvallis after longtime coordinator Danny Langsdorf left to join the NFL's New York Giants, told reporters this week that he won't change much in Oregon State's offensive game plan. That starts and ends with prolific returning quarterback Sean Mannion.
"I keep reminding myself everyday that [Mannion] threw for 4,600 yards, 37 touchdowns and 14 interceptions [last year]," Garrett said, "so we don't have to change a lot. It's a system that I'm going to learn, and in the process of learning it all and keeping the terminology, all the concepts are the same. I've run them for years, we just call them differently."The Beavers' averaged 6.2 yards per play last season, fourth in the Pac-12. But the offense loses Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Brandin Cooks.