â†µIt's a living death, but it's still a living, and you'll take it while you can get it. With that said, let us gather the rosebuds of college football's testing track season, spring practice, and examine four great mysteries that could be solved by the time spring practice ends, but probably won't be, and will therefore give you plenty to ruminate about at length on message boards to fill the void of the next 200 days or so. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Quarterback. Anywhere except for Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas, basically. Michigan will likely break in freshman Tate Forcier the hard way as he's the best fit available for the Rodriguez spread. USC's quarterback race is wide-open between four quarterbacks so disgustingly talented they make yours look like a foraging hobo throwing stale bread out of a bakery dumpster. Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton is the de facto starter, but that's up for grabs, and so is Alabama's starting QB spot, which Nick Saban isn't concerned about filling until the fall at the earliest. Mizzou, Auburn, Arizona, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, South Carolina ... all schools face quarterback uncertainty in one degree or another in what is a bumper crop of question marks at the position. â†µâ†µ
â†µUnder New Management. Oregon's Chip Kelly isn't exactly new, but he is a new head coach at Oregon, and has practices moving at a snappier pace than Mike Bellotti ever did. Steve Sarkisian has to figure out how to protect the battered but supremely talented Jake Locker at Washington with a piecemeal offensive line. Gene Chizik has already declared his practices closed, either to hide whatever madness new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is wreaking on the field, or because Chizik is already sprouting steam from the pressure of replacing Tommy Tuberville. â†µâ†µ
â†µThis isn't even taking into consideration one Lane Kiffin, whose mouth has been the MVP of Tennessee's offseason in accusing Urban Meyer of cheating, recanting, and then allegedly telling a South Carolina recruit he'd pump gas for the rest of his life if he signed with the Gamecocks. I'd propose a mulligan on anything a coach says in his first six months on the job, but with little actual news going on and Kiffin filling the void, I rescind this suggestion with a fierceness. (Quick, someone ask him a question! Now!) â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Continued Tweaking of the Good Into the Perfect. Even coaches in charge and seemingly on top of their pile of TPS reports have holes. Oklahoma has to retool the offensive line that kept Sam Bradford happily eating burritos and making mid-game cell phone calls in the pocket in 2008. Florida needs to shore up the left side of their offensive line and replace Percy Harvin's touches in the offense with someone from their infinite bag of sub-4.5 speedsters. Will Muschamp continues to build the defense at Texas, and will have to find someone besides the returning Sergio Kindle to pressure the quarterback now that Brian Orakpo's scaring scouts with his numbers at the combine. Even teams with well-established quarterbacks and entrenched coaches have to restock the shelves, albeit with the high-end brand name goods you've come to expect from them. â†µâ†µ
â†µStaying Upright Without Laying Down. Georgia is living this perpetual spring conundrum: walking the fine line between aggression and discretion on the field. Mark Richt said 2008's practices took things too easy on Georgia's players in the name of keeping everyone injury-free after a rash of on-field bang-ups. This made 2008's Georgia team less physical than they should have been, something Richt is remedying by taking things up a few gears this spring. Sometimes, as in Georgia's case, spring injuries and adjustments add up; sometimes, as in the case of Florida's spate of ACL injuries last spring, they don't. It's one of those maddening things coaches will only be able to judge in retrospect, and one of the reasons you should be happy not to be a sleep-deprived division one football coach. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.