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Random Thoughts: Spring Football Edition

College football wraps the spring practice session, leaving many questions in its wake.

NCAA Football: Alabama A-Day Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a crowd of “only” 74,732, Alabama had the third highest attendance at their spring game in 2018. Only Nebraska and UGA announced higher numbers though they seem suspiciously bloated.

BIG BEER TAP RUNNER-UPS

Georgia 82,184 - Yeah, there’s no way Sanford Stadium (capacity 92,746) in 89% full. It’s a good crowd but c’mon.

A big showing from this overzealous fanbase should not be a surprise. They were so close tua chieving their first National Championship since 1980 and just signed the nation’s #1 signing class two months prior. However, Dawg Nation might be in for a bit of a letdown in the coming season. They lost several key players including the dynamic running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The biggest loss for UGA might be LB Roquan Smith.

As for the G-Day game, QB Jake Fromm was not good finishing 19-of-38 passing for 200 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass with 1:42 to play against against scrubs in which a safety failed to provide cover help. Fromm also had two picks, one returned for a score, and was sacked four times.

Hilariously, the UGA press bugled how true freshman Justin Fields “outperformed” Fromm. In reality, the former 5-star put up numbers that were barely better. He was 18-of-33 passing for 207 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He had 12 rushes for 3 net yards and was sacked seven times.

SEC

Tennessee 65,098 - It sounds good but the Knoxville News called the number a “farce” and that the “actual attendance appeared closer to 40,000, with the lower bowl mostly full and the upper bowl empty.” This stinks of Fat Phil Fulmer shenanigans.

Jeremy Pruitt was disappointed and he scolded Vol Nation in his post game presser “I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”

He wasn’t done there as he remarked “I saw a couple of guys out there today who just flat-out quit. You can call it what you want to. I’m going to say they quit because that’s what I saw.”

If the Vols are ever going to get back to being a relevant program, Pruitt is going to need to weed out some of the bad element and that may take a few years. Are the fans going to accept reality and be patient?

Florida 53,105 - Again, there were doubts to the release crowd number but they got that NEW COACH FEVER!

The Gators’ spring game was less a scrimmage and more of a circus. Two “touchdowns” on the day came when quarterbacks threw long bombs to uncovered receivers. The problem was that the receivers just happened to be 40+ year old former players Lawrence Wright and Travis McGriff who came off the sidelines with no helmet or pads in planned stunts that counted in the final score.

The second “touchdown” of the day was a 60-yard run by quarterback Feleipe Franks, who celebrated by punting the ball into the stands. Even though Franks was tagged up by three defenders (there’s no hitting the QB), they counted this score as well. One could’ve almost expected Tim Tebow to parachute out of a blimp and catch a touchdown pass.

Other silliness included a pass to a receiver who was standing a few inches inbounds before the play began (illegal in real games), a halftime relay contest emceed by Dan Mullen, and field goal attempts that were just the snapper, holder and kicker against no defense.

Clearly, Mullen was trying to make things “fun” but I prefer my team to have a more serious approach to these precious few spring practices.

Texas A&M 48,129 - Welll... maybe.

Sadly enough, 48,129 at Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon surpassed the previous best crowd at the Texas A&M spring game was 45,212 in 2013.

Mississippi State 36,789 set a new spring game record at MSU. The Maroon team was comprised of the starters on both sides of the ball, and the White team was made up of second teamers and third-string guys. Yet, Maroon only won 28-10.

With Nick Fitzgerald still recovering from ankle surgery, Keytaon Thompson played quarterback for both teams. He was 26 of 44 passes for 316 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Kentucky 36,090

Auburn 28,033 - See “Kentucky” above. The basketball school had more than the War Plainsmen Tiger Eagles did. Even Cam Newton wasn’t there. However, the former Tigers QB was at the FSU spring game a week later. Remember, Auburn gave Gustavo a 7-year extension this past December. Lulz all around.

For some reason, the day started with 10 minutes of seven-on-seven which induced many a yawn. Even Aubie beat writer James Crepea could not make lemonade out of the absurd display. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham - who underwent shoulder surgery in January - participated in this portion of the day only.

The first quarter of the game ended with a safety, -2 yards passing and -11 yards rushing for the blue team. The Orange team was @MUCH@ better with 10 yards passing and 16 yards rushing. That should give you an idea how the day went. To add injury to insult, the Tigers lost three players to injury: defensive backs Jeremiah Dinson and Jordyn Peters, and reserve offensive lineman Brodarious Hamm.

South Carolina 25,500 Will Mushchamp also did the pass to a “celebrity” goofiness but it did not work out so well for the Ol’ Ball Coach.

LSU 22,000 Wow. Just Wow. Seriously, how does Joe Alleva still have a job?

Arkansas 7,000 - At least they were honest.

Mizzou, Ole Miss & Vandy did not announce attendance but you can probably imagine.

NATIONAL

There is something about getting a new coach that always fires up the fan base and fills their unrealistic little heads with fairie dust fantasies of instant success.

Nebraska 86,818 - The Cornhuskers sold tickets for $20 club seats (limited availability), $10 reserved tickets, and Faculty & Staff at $5. They had to charge because they’re now paying the salaries of two head coaches... The tickets went on sale in early February while NEW COACH FEVER! was still peaking and sold out rather quickly. Of course not all 86,818 were available for sale. Many were reserved for dignitaries and others such as players’ guests, recruits and their families. Only 10,000 tickets were available to the general public.

[ED NOTE: The “Hold my beer” thing is so overplayed. Let’s let it die. Shall we?]

The ‘Huskers fans gave new coach Scott Frost a big roar of applause as he left the stadium. And why not? The dude has NEVER lost a game as coach of Nebraska!

The 86,818 was the largest Huskers spring game crowd since 2008, when 80,149 fans showed up... for Bo Pelini’s first season as Nebraska’s coach. FEVER!

Florida State Either 60,934 or 53,974 depending who you believe - NEW COACH FEVER! has spread to Tallahassee! Another undefeated coach, Willie Taggart, attracted another program-record crowd! FSU’s regular-season finale against Louisiana Monroe drew 58,780.

Clemson 55,000 - The upper deck of 81,500 Memorial Stadium was completely empty. Color me skeptical. ESPN estimated around 45,000.

Boy Wonder Trevor Lawrence finished 11-for-16 passing for 122 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Incumbent QB Kelly Bryant, struggled to find consistency on offense, finishing 8-for-15 passing for 35 yards and had trouble with accuracy on deep throws. Expect a grad-transfer announcement any day now.

Oklahoma 52,102 - The Sooners struggled to a 3-3 tie in regulation but went to an unplanned overtime surely to save face more than anything. The final score was 10-9 after a failed two-point conversion for one team. Former TAMU diva QB Kyler Murray was pedestrian completing 11 of 21 passes for 85 yards. It might be time to try baseball.

Ohio State 47,803 - ‘member when anOSU useta pack the horseshoe (capacity 104,944) in spring?

Virginia Tech 36,814

Notre Dame 31,751 - As IF!

PAC-12

Coming out of an embarrassing wretched bowl season (as well as March Madness) in which the PAC went 1-8, they really needed a pick-me-up to get some momentum going into summer. It didn’t happen.

Oregon 27,317
Washington State 5,927
Arizona 5,000 (unofficial)
Washington 5,000 (unofficial)
Arizona State 4,600
Colorado 4,500
Stanford 3,000 (unofficial)
Southern Cal not reported - With the L.A. Coliseum under renovations, the Trojans ran drills and scrimmaged a little at the Track & Field Stadium instead of having a game.
UCLA not reported - Not to be outdone, the Bruins also occupied their Track & Field Stadium. Around 500 witnessed a “live scrimmage” that had a safety, three interceptions, and a player targeting a QB. Final score 16-10. No new coach fever here.
Utah not reported

Poll

Should Spring Games be Serious or Silly?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Serious. The process began January 9, 2018.
    (354 votes)
  • 30%
    A little of both is okay.
    (160 votes)
  • 2%
    Silly. The coach needs to make the fans happy and the players need to have fun.
    (14 votes)
528 votes total Vote Now