Talkin' 'Bout Spring Practice: QB Tyler Murphy breaks through at Boston College
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.
• Boston College coach Steve Addazio saw enough from his quarterbacks during spring practice to pinpoint his starter heading into the summer. On this week's ACC coaches' teleconference, Addazio said Florida transfer Tyler Murphy had moved to the front of the pack.
"Tyler [Murphy] established himself as the starter," Addazio said. "He's a veteran guy. He's a guy that has been in the heat of the battle. He has a lot of experience and has tremendous pocket presence. He throws the ball well. He's obviously very dynamic with his feet, and we felt great about his spring."
After Florida starter Jeff Driskel went down with a leg injury against Tennessee on Sept. 21, Murphy started six games for the Gators and threw for 1,216 yards with six touchdowns. He announced his plans to transfer in January.
• Clemson coach Dabo Swinney came under fire last week after a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation criticized his use of religion in the Tigers' football program. The organization alleged that Swinney violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
On Wednesday, Swinney issued a statement defending the culture of his program, per the Charleston Post and Courier:
"Over the past week or two, there has been a lot of discussion of my faith," Swinney said in the statement. "Players of any faith or no faith at all are welcome in our program. All we require in the recruitment of any player is that he must be a great player at his position, meet the academic requirements, and have good character."
• Tennessee lost a piece of its running back puzzle this week with the transfer of Alden Hill. Hill, a redshirt sophomore, announced his plans to transfer via his Instagram account. Volunteers coach Butch Jones later confirmed the decision.
Hill carried the ball 10 times for 58 yards and one touchdown last season, but the Vols are stocked with talent in the backfield. Jones signed three running backs in his 2014 recruiting class, including five-star prospect Jalen Hurd. Devrin Young also switched from receiver to tailback this spring.
• Bobby Petrino told reporters on this week's ACC teleconference that former coach Charlie Strong left a lasting impact on Petrino's new Louisville team. Asked about the Cardinals' work ethic, Petrino praised Strong, who left Louisville to take over for Mack Brown at Texas. (Via CoachingSearch.com)
“I think they’ve been great,” Petrino said. “They’ve been willing to work hard. They’re in the classroom. They really have a great work ethic, which is a credit to Charlie Strong and his staff, that they installed that in them. It’s really been an easy transition. We’re just teaching. It’s been a lot of teaching, a lot of learning, but the great thing is you go out on the field, and they work hard to get better each day."
• Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops stopped by Kentucky's campus this week and watched a practice with his brother, Mark. Kentucky offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Neal Brown told SI.com that Bob and Mike Stoops spoke to the Wildcats about what it takes to build a winning program.
"Both of Coach's brothers, Bob and Mike, were actually here," Brown said. "Bob was able to speak to the team and give them some good encouragement. He just talked about when he took over at Oklahoma and the founding principles that he believed in. They met with Mark and shared some ideas."
• The cause of death for Ted Agu, the 21-year-old Cal defensive lineman who collapsed during a training run on Feb. 7, was a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, "or excessive thickening of the heart muscle," the Alameda County coroner's office told SFGate.com. According to the report, other athletes, such as basketball players Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis, have died as a result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association says the condition is "generally not compatible with competitive athletics." It is unclear whether Agu was aware of his condition.
• One former and one current Mississippi State football player were arrested Wednesday "on suspicion of residential burglary and robbery by threats," Oktibbeha County Jail records told the Starkville Daily News. Details of the incident are unknown, but Mississippi State confirmed to the Daily News that the two men, Charles Siddoway and Jordan Washington, had been arrested and suspended from team activities. Siddoway is a 2014 NFL draft hopeful who started all 26 games at right tackle over the last two seasons. Washington redshirted as a freshman defensive tackle in '12 but didn't see the field in '13.
• Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota gets most of the hype as the Ducks' primary weapon on offense. But running back Byron Marshall is often overlooked. Marshall entered spring practice as the Pac-12's leading returning rusher after carrying the ball 168 times for 1,038 yards with 14 touchdowns last season. Oregon coaches say Marshall has improved his speed this spring, and the tailback has hopes to mirror former Ducks' star De'Anthony Thomas as a potential slot receiver in certain situations.
“It’s cool; I never really cared what other people thought,” Marshall told GoDucks.com. “I just want credit where credit is due. That’s definitely a big motivation this year, to go and prove that I’m the best running back in the Pac-12, and one of the best in the nation.”
• Iowa fans don't have to worry about a quarterback controversy. Returnee Jake Rudock started all 13 games last season, passing for 2,383 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He's the solid No. 1 quarterback ahead of C.J. Beathard as the roster heads into its spring game on Saturday. Rudock told HawkCentral.com that his personal experience will help the offense, which returns eight starters.
“I think we’ve all gotten more comfortable with the offense,” Rudock said. “We all understand it better. Things like route depth. Sometimes it’s supposed to be a 12-yard route. We’d accidentally run it eight yards or nine yards, and that makes a big difference. Now there’s really no excuses to make mental mistakes. We should know better.”