Two weeks ago, Coastal rivals Duke and Miami wrapped up spring practice. Two more teams in Virginia Tech's division will do the same this weekend among the four spring games going on in the league.
North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson and Florida State will all have their spring games with UNC's being televised at 3 p.m. EDT on ESPN. Both the UNC game and the Clemson spring game will also be available on ESPN3.com. Clemson's begins at 4.
Spring Football Winds Down (Tar Heel Fan)
The Tar Heels return a stout defense and an underrated backfield. If they fill a couple of holes on defense and get improved play from their offensive line and T.J. Yates, UNC could force its fans to pay attention to it even after basketball has started.
There's enough intrigue and potential around these Heels that ESPN has decided to show up for the spring game. The question is if anyone else will. THF has the same thought:
I am going to go out on a limb and say half the UNC fans will curse John Shoop’s name while the other half shrugs before refreshing Ed Davis’ Twitter feed. The problem with the expectations on Bryn Renner is he would have to be really, really, really good to supplant T.J. Yates, mainly because the latter is experienced.
Yates was efficient more often than not last year, but still had trouble throwing the ball to the other team. While a lot of UNC fans will be anxious to see freshman Bryn Renner, the Heels' chances at a division crown rest squarely on Yates' shoulders. If he had a good year, there's a chance the Heels could go to Charlotte. If he's terrible, then their fantastic defense will once again get them no better than a 4-4 conference record. Dr. Saturday thinks the senior QB's season will fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes:
Odds are, Yates will be significantly better in the interception department, but within the same, conservative system, he'll probably still come in for a few boos at some point, and maybe even for a temporary benching or two to get one of the heirs apparent, Braden Hanson or Bryn Renner, some live reps.
UNC has a great defense as we learned in Blacksburg last year. Most of the same guys are back and the Heels will probably start seven seniors in 2010. They do need some help at defensive end, though. The Heels need to find a second starter to go along with Robert Quinn, but according to ITB they need to find others who can contribute as well:
The loss of Wilson but adding a talent such as Willis to the rotation creates a formidable rotation at the end position for the Tar Heels as Davis and John Blake like to keep them fresh and capable of doggedly pursuing the quarterback. This strategy is what allowed Coples, McAdoo and Paige-Moss to put up eight sacks last season while never being listed as starters and should allow Willis to break the seal as a key contributor in both the run and pass game.
The Heels have split their teams evenly and Yates finds himself on the same team as Quinn, Quan Sturdivant, Charles Brown and Deunta Williams. He will have to throw against cornerback Kendric Burley, though, so the UNC spring game won't be completely without drama when Yates' blue team has the ball.
UVa's spring game will start at 2 p.m. Saturday and a webcast of the game will be available on VirginiaSports.com.
U.Va. switches up its defense (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
UVa showed off it's
ass new uni's Friday and will show off its new defense Saturday. Apparently Al Groh's thinking-man's-big-time-NFL-defense was too tricky for the kids at Mr. Jefferson's University to master. So they're dumbing things down in C-ville:
The big unveiling will come at game time, though, when the defense shows off its new 4-3 alignment. The goal is to replace the elaborate schemes of coach Al Groh with a new system that lets athletes do what comes naturally -- run fast and make plays.
Actually, UVa usually has good athletes on the defensive side of the ball and I think this change will benefit the team. Ras-I Dowling's a good player and Chase Minnifield is going to be good. If the Hoos find some decent linebackers they'll be able to field a competitive defense in 2010. At least one capable of beating Duke this time.
London faces a tough decision at quarterback (Charlottesville Daily Progress)
While we've all assumed that Marc Verica is going to be UVa's quarterback next year, Mike London has not made that announcement official. Verica will be the guy on the Hoos' roster who's thrown a pass in college, but London won't officially give him control of the offense until he sees what the incoming freshmen can do during preseason practice:
London has kept an open mind and probably won’t made a final judgment until either the end of spring — or delay the decision until training camp in August — but for now, it appears he’s going to go with senior Marc Verica, the only guy on the roster with any real experience, and try to develop a strong backup amongst the younger players.
Really, if Verica isn't good enough to earn the starting job the Hoos are going to be in big trouble in 2010. Maybe London will decide to really blow up the team and start a freshman at QB this season. Then when the year is a failure he can say the Hoos were "playing with next year's team" and start down the slippery slope pioneered by one Al Groh.
Quote Of The Day (The Good Ol' Blog)
Just for funsies:
From UVa corner Chase Minnifield: "It’s a new culture around here. Everybody is going to class and everybody is getting their work done. We’re going to put a new emphasis on graduation and not taking casualties due to academics."
FSU's spring game starts at 5 p.m. Saturday and can be seen on Seminoles.com.
Breaking Down Team Garnet & Team Gold (Tomahawk Nation)
We know Florida State's offense can light up scoreboards. We'll find out if its defense can keep others from doing the same. Well, maybe. Like everything else involving the Seminoles, it depends on Christian Ponder:
The obvious question here is how much Christian Ponder is allowed to play. If Ponder takes the serious majority of team Gold's snaps, team Gold should put a beatdown on team Garnet. But if team Gold is forced to use the walk on QB for half (or slightly less) of its snaps, then FSU fans will have something to watch.
Once again, Clemson's having offensive line troubles. The Tigers are the UNC of the Atlantic Division. They have a strong defense and decent enough talent at the skill positions. It will all come down to filling shoes and getting good play from the O-line. It looks like the vibe in Clemson about the O-line isn't nearly as positive as the one in Chapel Hill:
The most glaring item on the docket is Clemson's offensive line. The situation has gotten to the point that Coach Swinney can no longer remain openly positive in the optimism-filled Spring atmosphere. [...] We will assume that Mason Cloy will be back and play with similar results as last season. Still, the Tigers will need improvement up front, and really have no quality, proven depth with which to work this fall.
The Yellow Jacket defense looks good according to From the Rumble Seat. However, they don't have to face Josh Nesbitt so objects in mirror may look more ahead of schedule than they appear:
Thoughts: very excited to see the defense coming around. I was able to make a small amount of the scrimmage on Saturday and things still look a little rough around the edges but improvements are coming. The same can be said about the infamous "shotgun formation" being implemented as well. I fully expect the upcoming Saturdays to be even better.
On offense, the Terps need to find a way to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers. Testudo Time suggest running the offense that sweeping the land: The Wildcat. This actually isn't that bad of an idea. It doesn't look like Maryland's going to get very good play out of its quarterbacks next year, so why not make sure that the ball gets to your best player on every snap?
Considering how much trouble they had getting the ball in Torrey Smith's hands at times last season, one has to wonder if it will make a comeback. It would certainly give Torrey a chance to get his hands on the ball more, and he definitely has the talent to run it.
On defense, Maryland is just happy for any good news:
Friedgen said Vellano is probably the Terps' most productive defensive lineman this spring. After a recent practice, he estimated Vellano was making a play one out of four snaps. By comparison, the one returning starter --- A.J. Francis --- was checking in around one out of seven or eight snaps.