The college football future will take shape this week as the commissioners meet in Pasadena decide where to host the inaugural playoff and what to call it. The vibe is that the initial game will be at the Cotton Bowl with both the Rose and Sugar involved in the semifinals but anything can happen this week. The bigger question is whether or not the top 60 or 70 schools in FBS decide to break off from the NCAA and form their own division. This is not a joke folks, it could happen and likely not this week but the discussions are heating up as the television contracts grow and realignment continues. There is a reason schools like West Virginia jump to conferences like the Big 12 which makes no sense travel wise. They don’t want to be left behind when this seismic shift in college football takes place.
SEC Spring Games
I could not believe the amount of turnovers (9) in Alabama's spring game. To put into perspective the Crimson Tide had 15 in fourteen games last season. Over the last four seasons Alabama has committed 15-12-15-12 turnovers each year en route to three BCS Championships. There seems to have been a strong focus on the passing game and trying to develop a backup quarterback to AJ McCarron. The game will serve as a strong motivation for Nick Saban's summer workout program. I think the sloppy play will actually help get the team re-focused on the little things that win championships.
Missouri's offense may be regressing right now. When you look at the amount of big plays they generated in the Big 12 prior to the SEC. The last season in the Big 12 the Tigers with James Franklin at quarterback 236 plays of 10 plus yards compared to 153 this past season. If the spring game was any indication there is still a learning curve going on with the new offensive coordinator. Much of the spring we have heard of the “open” competition at quarterback and the play of freshman Maty Mauck, but he struggled in the game proving that maybe James Franklin is still the best option.
Tennessee has a long way to go to be a productive offense. I have to believe any freshman with explosiveness get a good look this fall. The Vols will also allow the quarterback battle to continue on for now between Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman. I believe the Volunteers are still looking for a breakaway receiving threat while trying to decide on a quarterback. If the season started today, I think Worley get's the first look, but the summer will be very important for him and Peterman. With Marlin Lane out in the spring Alden Hill was a pleasant surprise at running back. He went over 100 yards for the second Saturday scrimmage in a row. Tennessee's defense deserves credit for the offensive struggles. The Vols appear to have a more aggressive pass rush led by Corey Vereen.
Congratulations to Auburn fans for showing they are still the most passionate and rabid as any in the SEC. I understand the rolling of Toomer's corner for the final time contributed greatly, but Gus Malzahn has brought hope to the Tiger program. I think the quarterback battle cleared up a little bit with the play of Jonathan Wallace on Saturday. He is just more confident as a player than Kiehl Frazier. He would start today if the Tigers were playing, but don't discount Juco quarterback Nick Marshall. I know Malzahn recruited Frazier to run his system, but right now he’s working on the mental aspect of getting Frazier to see and pull the trigger on time.
This and That...
Zach Mettenberger had to call his own plays in the Tiger spring game and it showed at times. He is still a player who has a high ceiling and improving every week. Cam Cameron used the same method for working on his quarterback's minds when he was an assistant at Michigan with Les Miles. The idea is to spring the play calling on the players to see how they respond and react under adverse conditions.
Tyler Russell had been calling his own plays in some scrimmages until he threw four picks in one outing. He looks to be a better down field passing quarterback in Dan Mullen's offense. The balance will be there with Ladarius Perkins at running back so Mullen wants to see more explosive plays in the passing game. Brandon Holloway has been a weapon in the spring and had over 100 yards rushing for his second straight scrimmage.
Brandon Allen looks to have the lead on the job at Arkansas after the Razorbacks spring scrimmage drew over 50,000 fans. Allen had a solid spring with very few down points while establishing more consistency over the month. Brandon Mitchell who had been up and down was pretty good in the spring game making you wonder if Bret Bielema might have a “gamer” on his hands. “Gamers” are tough to judge and there was talk that Mitchell could be involved in a “dual threat” type role.