Some of the nation's biggest programs played their spring games Saturday, with quarterback controversies aplenty.
Blake Bell took a commanding lead in the three-horse race for Oklahoma's vacant quarterback spot in Saturday's spring game. Bell threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, though Bell's Red team lost to White 28-24. Sophomore Kendal Thompson threw for 151 yards and a score for the victorious White team, while freshman Trevor Knight racked up 86 yards passing and an additional 36 on the ground. Afterwards, both head coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said the quarterback competition remained open.
Bell said the Oklahoma offense has some work to do this summer:
"We've a lot of guys hurt up front, kind of dinged up in the spring and some of the guys sitting out and not playing,'' Bell said. "As we go through the summer and we get our timing with routes and stuff with all the guys and just keep working, I think we're going to get there get there."
The Trojans wrapped up spring practice Saturday with more questions than answers: Max Wittek's presumed rise into the starting quarterback spot is now anything but certain, and 20 USC players sat out with injuries. Sophomore Cody Kessler, who spent 2012 holding placekicks and listening to scouts hype freshman Max Browne, threw for 242 yards and three scores at Saturday's scrimmage. Wittek added two touchdowns, but also threw a pair of interceptions.
At the other USC, most of the stars -- including defensive end Jadeveon Clowney -- sat out Saturday's Garnet and Black Game, though Clowney did come off the bench in street clothes to catch a touchdown pass. Head ball coach Steve Spurrier explained his spring philosophy, high on reps for young players and low on defense, to the press:
"Spring practice is important for the younger guys. I guess one reason I don't get all fired up for spring practice is I only went through one of them in my three years of them at Florida. I got hurt the other two -- nothing serious."
Dylan Thompson had one bad interception on a deep ball to Shaq Roland in double coverage. Chaz Elder came down with the errant, ill-advised throw and made a nice return. Of course, one wonders whether Thompson tries that throw in a real game, and other than that, there was some good stuff in there from the QBs. Thompson looked excellent otherwise. I was particularly impressed by how well he ran through his progressions; he gets the ball out quickly when someone breaks open, but he also shows patience at times and can find an open man while stepping up in the pocket, as he did on a TD pass to Roland in a goalline situation.
There's no quarterback controversy in College Station, where defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns in the Maroon and White Game. He also threw a block on safety Sam Moeller to spring a touchdown, terrifying the A&M coaching staff in the process:
"I told Johnny, `Don't ever do that again,''' offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said. "His instincts came into effect. He wanted to go and block for the guy. But we're in the spring game; we don't need to lose him on a busted play. We don't want to see that.''
"They were just more worried about me being safe and being more careful than anything,'' Manziel said of his coaches. "I went up and apologized to Sam after it. The way that I am and the way that my motor drives me, it was just an instinct play.''