College football’s most intriguing spring games to watch in 2019

first_imgWhy we’re watching: Defensive tackles Jordan Williams and Nyles Pinckney will miss spring practice, so we will have to wait until fall camp to see what the D-line remodel looks like. So, watch how the linebackers react to that. Isaiah Simmons returned to school, which helps offset the loss of Tre Lamar and Kendall Joseph. Shaq Smith could emerge as a key contributor. Who are we kidding? You’re going to watch Trevor Lawrence and that high-flying offense. Keep an eye on who takes over the slot position for the departed Hunter Renfrow (we’re serious, he’s gone).1. AlabamaWhen: April 13 (2 p.m. ESPN2)Why we’re watching: This is our first look at the Crimson Tide since the 44-16 blowout loss to Clemson. Returning offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be the focus. What will an offense that averaged 45.6 points per game last season, but lacked punch in the championship game, look like now? Keep an eye on early enrollee Antonio Alfano. The five-star defensive end could be an early contributor on the defense. MORE: Sporting News’ pre-preseason top 25 for 2019Here are the storylines we’ll be watching from those top-10 teams.10. MichiganWhen: April 13 (5 p.m., TBD)Why we’re watching: The offense. Will Jim Harbaugh really let new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis freshen up the passing attack around Shea Patterson and a talented group of receivers that includes Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tarik Black? How much will freshman running back Zach Charbonnet be featured now that veteran running back Chris Evans isn’t currently with the team? The defense also has massive losses on the front seven, but defensive coordinator Don Brown has been able to rebuild that unit with each year.9. FloridaWhen: April 13 (1 p.m., SEC Network)Why we’re watching: Florida has to replace four starters on its offensive line, and that will be the biggest question for Dan Mullen in Year 2 in Gainesville. Feleipe Franks is the favorite to start again in what Mullen calls an open competition, but Emory Jones and Kyle Trask will compete for the backup job. The Gators also kept defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who entertained some NFL looks. CeCe Jefferson and Jachai Polite are gone, so it’s on senior Jabari Zuniga to develop into a first-team all-SEC pass rusher.8. Notre DameWhen: April 6 (12:30 p.m., TBD)Why we’re watching: Who will fill the void left by Dexter Williams at running back? Tony Jones (392 yards, three touchdowns) and Jafar Armstrong (383 yards, seven touchdowns) will be the 1-2 punch, and Avery Davis, C’Bo Flemister and Jahmir Smith will be in the mix for carries. Kyren Williams — an early enrollee — also is on campus. Notre Dame is 22-4 the last two seasons, and the strong presence in the running game by Josh Adams and Williams made that possible. They need another lead back to step up.MORE: Early predictions for 2019 season7. LSUWhen: April 6 (2 p.m., SEC Network)Why we’re watching: This one is easy. What does the hiring of passing game coordinator Joe Brady do for quarterback Joe Burrow? The Tigers hired Brady away from the Saints, and LSU coach Ed Orgeron called it a “game-changer.” Burrow passed for 2,894 yards with 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season, including 971 passing yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception in his last three games. Will the passing game be the difference maker that puts LSU on track for its first Playoff appearance?6. TexasWhen: April 13 (7:30 p.m., LHN)Why we’re watching: The Longhorns are the “it” team this offseason, and the return of Sam Ehlinger of Collin Johnson is huge for the offense. The defense loses eight starters, but the biggest storyline might revolve around freshman Bru McCoy, who originally enrolled at USC before transferring and is awaiting word on a hardship waiver. The five-star recruit was one of the most talented players in the 2019 class. Will we get to see him play?5. Ohio StateWhen: April 13 (noon., BTN)Why we’re watching: Ohio State fans got a glimpse of Justin Fields wearing the No. 1 jersey on the first day of spring practice, and you can expect the usual huge turnout to see the Buckeyes’ first spring game with first-year coach Ryan Day. Ohio State has two new coordinators in Mike Yurcich and Greg Mattison, too. The Buckeyes lost three receivers — Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon — to the NFL Draft. Keep an eye on who replaces that veteran leadership in Columbus. On defense, all eyes will be on five-star freshman Zach Harrison to see if he can make an instant impact.P5 PRIMERS: ACC | B1G | SEC | B12 | P124. OklahomaWhen: April 13 (TBD)Why we’re watching: You saw the picture of Jalen Hurts. The Alabama transfer is in line to be the Sooners’ starting quarterback, and his spring game performance is sure to be dissected around how he throws to CeeDee Lamb, Charleston Rambo and Grant Calcaterra. Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks are back, too. It’s a loaded offense — but only if the offensive line shows it can replace four starters. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch won’t show much, but you’ll get some clues as to how Oklahoma will look on that side of the ball, too.3. GeorgiaWhen:April 20 (2 p.m., SEC Network)Why we’re watching: We know Jake Fromm has a stable of running backs, but who is he throwing too? Five of the top six leading receivers from last year are gone, and Jeremiah Holloman is the top target on the roster. Senior Tyler Simmons will take on a more pronounced role, and Charlie Woerner is the top returning tight end. This is an opportunity for the Bulldogs’ young receivers to show out.2. ClemsonWhen: April 6 (TBD) Spring football is underway in the FBS, and college football fans will get a tease for the 2019 season with spring games over the next few months.That will create some interesting storylines, especially for the top College Football Playoff contenders. Sporting News already released its pre-preseason top 25, and the top 10 teams are at head of that Playoff discussion. They also have the most intriguing spring games.last_img

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