More than 25 programs will hold their spring game on Saturday, including the two-time national champion Georgia Bulldogs.
College Football Playoff contender Ohio State kickstarts the loaded slate with a noon scrimmage (Big Ten Network) featuring a short-handed quarterback room after a late spring hand injury to Devin Brown. The injury opens the door for junior Kyle McCord to make a statement getting all the first-team reps.
As a reminder: Spring games can be full of fools gold, so be careful making definitive takeaways about a team’s potential in the fall. The scrimmages can offer some interesting clues of what could come five months down the road, though.
Ohio State, 12 p.m., Big Ten Network
Clemson, 1 p.m., ACC Network Extra
Texas, 2 p.m., Longhorn Network
Tennessee, 2:30 p.m., SEC Network+
Georgia, 4 p.m., ESPN2
I’ll provide updates throughout the afternoon so bookmark this page.
- In a pregame interview, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day was asked who all had impressed him this spring. He said, “A bunch of guys,” but then named just one: 5-star freshman wideout Carnell Tate. Tate should get plenty of targets today with the Buckeyes without several receivers today. Also, Ohio State isn’t really tackling for the first two quarters of its scrimmage and we have a funky scoring system. Not ideal!
- One quarter in the books in Columbus. Not much action offensively. Kyle McCord has been a bit erratic, but OSU’s quarterbacks have been under steady pressure. Jim Knowles’ defensive line definitely has some dudes with Jack Sawyer, Tyleik Williams and Kenyatta Jackson Jr. all recording sacks already.
- Add Buckeyes junior DT Mike Hall to the list of impressive defensive linemen today.
- There’s always a random tailback in a spring game that goes off — today that guy might be Clemson’s Domonique Thomas. Nicknamed Quadzilla, Thomas, a redshirt junior, has broken off several big runs early for the Tigers.
- Dabo Swinney is on the broadcast giving his pre-and-post thoughts after every play here in the first quarter. Some interesting insight, especially on how he believes quarterback Cade Klubnik performs best when off schedule. After Phil Mafah broke off a long run following a missed TFL in the backfield, Swinney said, “That’s what happens when you don’t wrap up.” Swinney also said wideout Cole Turner, who had a big performance in the ACC Championship, is maybe the fastest player on the team.
- If you want to know how things are going in Ohio State’s spring game: Archie Griffin, the lone two-time Heisman Trophy winner, just “scored” a touchdown — that they counted on the scoreboard
- Swinney with a shoutout to freshman safety Khalil Barnes, noting the early enrollee has come to campus and quickly impressed the staff.
- Carnell Tate with a long touchdown reception on a nice throw from McCord. Ohio State’s secondary has been pretty sticky most of the day, but the freshman beat Jyaire Brown, running right past him.
- Swinney continuing to compliment Cade Klubnik’s ability to create plays with his legs. He’s escaped pressures multiple times — extending plays via the pass and run.
- Klubnik with interceptions on back-to-back throws, with both passes tipped. One on a pop pass to the tight end inside the 3-yard line and another down the field on a deep comeback. Both were better plays by the defense (Jamal Anderson and Nate Wiggins) than awful throws or decisions by Klubnik.
- Peter Woods has generated all sorts of buzz this spring and it’s easy see why. No. 11 for Clemson just moves differently. He’s a freak at 6-3, 280.
- A couple series into Texas’ spring game and no Arch Manning sightings … yet. Meanwhile, Quinn Ewers needed a couple series to get going, but the sophomore heated up and made several big throws to AD Mitchell and Xavier Worthy, the last going for close to 50 yards to setup a short rushing touchdown by freshman CJ Baxter.
- Manning with his first series goes three-and-out. He completed his first attempt on a short out but then was pressured into a pair of throw-aways.
- About five minutes after Manning made his spring debut, Tennessee’s Nico Iamaleava took the field for the Vols. He also completed his first throw, a quick-hitter for a nice first down, but then the drive stalled after a couple incompletions.
- Less than five minutes into Tennessee’s spring game, the Vols have already emptied the bench and are playing all sorts of walk-ons on offense. ESPN’s broadcast listed more than 20 contributors on the 2-deep (offensively and defensively) that won’t play today.
- Ewers with a sharp first half for the Longhorns, while Manning has been under constant duress during his two series.
- AD Mitchell with a filthy one-handed touchdown catch on a pass from Ewers.
- Tennessee has some nice freshman pieces for the future Iamaleava with a big completion on a rollout to tight end Ethan Davis. Then a couple plays later, Cameron Seldon ripped off a touchdown run.
- Khalil Barnes making Swinney’s comments earlier today look prescient — he just had a pick-six where he beat the receiver to the route and flew down the sideline.
- The buzz in Austin this spring has been that Texas’ No. 2 QB isn’t Arch Manning … but Maalik Murphy. It’s just a spring scrimmage, but that certainly looks to be the case today. After a bad drop on a potential long touchdown, Murphy responded with another perfect throw on his next pass for a 80-yard score. Manning was 5 of 13 for 30 yards and several scrambles. Murphy was 9 of 13 for 165 and a score.
- After a punt-fest for much of the second half in Tennessee’s spring game, Nico Iamaleava led a solid drive that stalled in the red zone after a couple indecisive decisions by the freshman QB.
- Georgia opens its spring game without a left guard, taking an intentional delay of game penalty to honor Devin Willock, who passed away in the tragic car crash in January.
- The Bulldogs have some freshmen on defense who can really run — LB CJ Allen and OLB Sam M’Pemba have made several flash plays early.
- Carson Beck is throwing dimes on his first two series. He’s connected with Brock Bowers, Oscar Delp, Arian Smith and Ladd McConkey to lead two scoring drives.
- Three drives for Carson Beck today. Three touchdowns for Georgia’s offense. Beck has 10 completions to to nine different players.
- Bulldogs freshman Lawson Luckie looks like the next guy at tight end for UGA. He’s been hyped all spring and has a couple big catches in the first half.
- Two more UGA 5-star freshmen making plays on defense for the Bulldogs: DL Jordan Hall and OLB Damon Wilson.
- Kirby Smart is happy with all three quarterbacks’ performances through a half, noting zero turnovers, lots of explosive plays and efficient decision-making. Smart did lament that the defense needs to “get some stops,” and that it starts with playing better on 1st down.
- Smart noted how Luckie, who continues to make plays, is ahead of most other freshman because he skipped the HS All-American Games and got close to 15 practices during the CFP Semifinals and Championship Game. UGA’s head coach was overall very complementary of UGA’s 21 early enrollees.
- Georgia’s defense has been much saltier in the second half … at the same time, Carson Beck hasn’t worked with the 1s on offense.
- The ESPN2 broadcast has really praised the spring of freshman safety Joenel Aguero. The 5-11, 200-pound early enrollee has laid a couple big licks in the second half.