Saturday brought us four spring games, so let's go over the proceedings and see what we can learn from them.
Jim McElwain maintained for a while that his Gators weren't even going to have a spring game due to a lack of offensive line players. Not just healthy linemen, but linemen, period. Let's just say that Will Muschamp's history of signing OLs was... disorganized.
Anyway, Alligator Army has a great recap of the game. The quarterback battle between incumbent starter Treon Harris and redshirt freshman Will Grier is close, and it's likely to stay that way for a while.
Grier went 7-for-9 for 130 yards to Harris's 6-for-9 for 95 yards and a touchdown, and it was Grier who looked slightly sharper and more capable of making throws on this day. Both players hooked up on long throws of 42 yards, but Grier's bomb on a flea-flicker to Alvin Bailey was thrown on target, while Harris's connection with Robinson forced the latter to slow up and adjust to make a twisting mid-air catch. And Grier made the best throw of the day, a stellar 35-yard throw to Lewis on the sideline; Harris's similar throw to Valdez Showers for a 24-yard reception had more to do with Showers's ability to stick a foot down in bounds.
If the season started tomorrow, I think it's a pretty safe assumption that Grier would start. His arm has always looked better than Harris's on a consistent basis, and he looked slightly more comfortable in McElwain's offense on this Saturday than Harris did, though Harris missing practices after a death in the family this spring could help explain the latter deficiency.
The Bulldogs are going to be one of the favorites to win the conference despite losing the likes of Todd Gurley, Mike Bobo, and Hutson Mason. Nick Chubb is going to be a mauler on offense, there is offensive line depth aplenty, a defense that is deep throughout the front seven will likely take a step forward in the second year under Jeremy Pruitt.
Ace Georgia blogger Senator Blutarsky ran down the positions after the game. Receiver is a concern, and there is legitimate doubt about who will take over at quarterback between Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta:
Bottom line, those saying there’s a two-man race right now ain’t lying. The best thing I can say about the situation is that it’s not hopeless. There’s an SEC-caliber quarterback among the three; it’s up to Schottenheimer to coax that out of one of them.
The breakout star of the SEC last year was the Rebel defense. It was the best in the conference and probably even the nation through the first half of the season until injuries set in and eroded its capability. With much of that unit returning, you can expect it to be a strength once again.
It certainly was the strength of the team on Saturday, as Red Cup Rebellion reported that it dominated the offense. Ole Miss is yet another SEC team with a quarterback battle, and nothing we saw really sorted that out. It is just a spring game, of course, and there could have been some mitigating circumstances:
In fairness, [the quarterbacks] didn't get much help. The injury-depleted O-line was porous and the receivers dropped eight passes, half of which were bungled by the usually-sure handed Evan Engram. If we count those drops as completions and make a couple of other minor adjustments (like nullifying [Chad] Kelly's incompletion on a Hail Mary just before halftime), we get some slightly more reassuring numbers.
The spring game in Columbia was what you might expect, with three different quarterbacks airing it out and Darius Rucker (yes, really) catching a touchdown pass. Garnet and Black Attack has a detailed review of the game for your reading pleasure.
Connor Mitch looked like the top quarterback, even if Steve Spurrier says the competition for the starting spot is still open. The new-look defense under Jon Hoke did well for itself, but it didn't have much on its plate:
"I think the defense looked good playing just two coverages. There were no mistakes. When you only play two coverages it's hard to make a mistake," the Head Ball Coach conceded. "That is certainly something we can improve upon what we did last year as far as everyone knowing what to do. That gives you a chance."