Mind of Mike: Predictions for spring football
Spring football is starting for many schools and very near for others, so Mike Farrell is making 10 predictions.
1. Jalen Hurts won’t roll over
Everyone thinks quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is now the immediate starter for Alabama after his amazing performance in the second half of the national title game. However, Jalen Hurts isn’t going to just hand over the job. Nick Saban has said he’s open to playing both and remember that Hurts is 26-2 as a starter and would have won a national title of his own if the defense could have stopped DeShaun Watson a couple of years ago. I’m not saying Hurts will win the job back, but I know he’s not going away that easily.
2. Rashan Gary will emerge
Rashan Gary had a very good season last year for Michigan but didn’t stuff the box score because he was constantly taking on double teams and freeing up other defenders. With Maurice Hurst gone, Gary will emerge as the star of the defensive line and take the next step towards superstardom this spring, mark it down.
3. Miles Sanders will ease concerns at Penn State
Saquon Barkley is a once-in-a-generation running back as we are seeing at the NFL Combine, but don’t feel sorry for Penn State. It has plenty of talent at running back, led by Miles Sanders, who should step in and do just fine. He averaged 6.7-yards-per-carry in limited time and should emerge as a star this spring. He won’t be Barkley, no one could be, but he’ll be darned good.
4. Miami's Malik Rosier and/or Notre Dame's Brandon Wimbush could lose their job
Okay this could be a reach, but I don’t think either have a strong hold on the starting job. N’Kosi Perry is out there for Miami, a guy many felt might start last year at one point before the season. At Notre Dame, Ian Book is a better natural passer than Wimbush and should push hard for the job. If one of the current back-ups came out of the spring with the starting job, I wouldn’t be stunned.
5. Tennessee's move to 3-4 defense will be good
I’ve never been a big fan of a 3-4 base in college football, but I do know one thing, Tennessee will be better against the run with Jeremy Pruitt’s scheme and the effort will be 100 percent better as well. Pruitt is a great defensive mind and always gets maximum effort out of his players, so even without the horses he had at Alabama, the Vols will be a better defensive team and it will show in the spring.
6. Clemson QB race tightens
Kelly Bryant is the starter and led the team to the ACC title and the playoff last year, but the QB battle will intensify this spring in a big way. Why? Former five-star quarterback Hunter Johnson is more comfortable in the offense and the nation’s No. 1 player, Trevor Lawrence, is on campus and ready to compete for the starting job right away. Clemson may have the best quarterback trio when it comes to sheer talent in the entire country and Bryant will feel the heat. Fans upset with his performance against Alabama last year will want Lawrence, considered to be a once-in-a-decade talent, to be the guy but don’t count out Johnson, who has a ton of talent as well. Dabo Swinney will want to downplay the drama, but keep an eye on this race this spring.
7. Kyler Murray dominates with his feet
I’m not yet sold on his passing ability and he could struggle a bit this spring in that respect, but watch out for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and his ability to run. He will bring that new aspect to the Oklahoma offense this spring in a big way. Baker Mayfield could run, but not like Murray. Replacing the Heisman winner will be tough and the passing game could suffer a bit, but the Oklahoma defense will have a ton of trouble with Murray’s fast feet all spring.
8. Buckeyes find a passing game
With Ryan Day as the offensive coordinator and Dwayne Haskins as the quarterback, the Ohio State passing game is going to flourish this spring. Gone are JT Barrett and his passing issues, and you can bet the offense will be more up tempo with Day in charge. All of this will equal an Ohio State offense that will be more balanced than we’ve seen in a few years.
9. LSU finds its QB
Myles Brennan finally will have LSU's fans excited about quarterback play after this spring. The talented signal-caller is an excellent passer, he can extend the play and his maturity is beyond his years. Even in LSU’s conservative scheme, Brennan will shine this spring with his passing numbers.
10. The biggest spring buzz will be in Lincoln
Nebraska sold 90,000 tickets to its spring game in a day, Scott Frost is already a legend and he hasn’t coached a game in Lincoln. The running back competition itself should be very interesting to follow and the quarterback battle will get most of the attention.