College football spring practice 2013: But do Syracuse and Michigan State have scholar ballers?


Syracuse, North Carolina State, and Boston College all started spring practice with new head coaches Tuesday, while Mark Dantonio apparently is letting his quarterbacks take hits this spring. Also, Todd Graham has your new favorite term.

Twelve teams got spring football underway Tuesday - 12! - including a few squads from power conferences - Michigan State, Arizona State, Utah, and more - and more intriguingly, a whole bunch of teams with new coaches in charge - Boston College, Syracuse, and N.C. State, to name just a few.

Here's a look at news from teams spring ball around the country:


Doug Marrone is gone, and Ryan Nassib is gone, meaning Scott Shafer's first year as head coach will feature a big decision: who gets to start at quarterback. He understands it's not the easiest task:

"We have new quarterbacks and new coaches evaluating them and a defensive guy who coached defense as the head coach. It is a clean slate. Couldn't get any cleaner, really. The way I look at it is we will throw the ball out there and try to split the reps equally amongst the three of them early in camp then see who sorts it out the best and take the approach that is the position that is most important as opposed to the person at this point in time.

That guy could be fifth-year senior Charley Loeb, who has patiently waited for the chance to start, but he's not alone.

N.C. State

Dave Doeren is the man for the Wolfpack after leading NIU to a BCS game last year. Doeren runs the spread, something Tom O'Brien probably had nightmares about doing, and although the team is excited to play under Doeren, it's going to take some time getting used to a drastically different coach:

"Just understanding the terminology and then relating it to the old system was a little challenge," (cornerback Dontae) Johnson said. "I can see it being a challenge for the rest of the guys. Once we get the terminology down, we'll be able to play a lot faster."

Arizona State

House of Sparky was at the first practice in Tempe, and caught a glimpse of college football's most proven method to victory: motivational posters.

The first was a picture of the Rose Bowl trophy, surrounded by rose petals, as a reminder of what the Sun Devils will be working toward come fall.

The second poster stressed the importance of achieving a 100 percent graduation rate and academic excellence. The poster read, "Be a scholar baller every day."

Be a scholar baller, guys. We should all be scholar ballers.

Michigan State

Mark Dantonio and the Spartans kicked off spring ball, and The Only Colors broke down Dantonio's press conference, featuring a weird detail:

Umm, what? Quarterbacks are, like, almost never live in spring practice. There's no reason for them to be. The benefit you gain from them learning how to be slightly more mobile in the pocket due to the fact they're dealing with real guys trying to tackle them is completely outweighed by the risk that somebody gets injured. Quarterbacks are pretty defenseless - especially Michigan State's, as they don't have any scramblers - and extremely valuable. Most teams rarely go live in practice even during the regular season, although the plus side here is that if somebody does get hurt, they'll have a long time to recover.

Then again, new offensive coordinator Jim Bollman might not call a passing play all year.

Boston College

The Eagles kicked off the Steve Addazio era, and BC Interruption had a primer.

Western Michigan

32-year-old P.J. Fleck is now in charge for the Broncos - their first coaching change after eight years under Bill Cubit, and MLive reported the team responded well to the excitability of the nation's youngest coach. Cubit's defensive scheme isn't special - it's a 4-3 - but it's different from what the team ran under Cubit.


Ron Turner is in charge for the Panthers, and although he hasn't coached in college since 2005 - and that was an ill-fated gig at Illinois - he wants everyone to know he's been in the NFL since, citing Lovie Smith, Jim Caldwell, Greg Schiano, and Peyton Manning as people who influenced his first day of drills.

"No wasted reps. Peyton wouldn't have it. He simply wouldn't allow wasted reps to happen in Indy. And Greg's overall intensity - just the way he approached every single practice. It was every day, every time we practiced. Just the passion to prepare on a day-to-day basis."

Turner, who is his own offensive coordinator, said the goal of spring football is to establish toughness, clarifying that he doesn't mean "fake toughness".

Also starting practice Tuesday were Utah, Utah State, Southern Miss - now under Dan Monken as they look to bounce back from an 0-12 last year - Wake Forest, and UTSA.

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