With the start of Sean Kugler's first camp at UTEP, 124 of the 125 teams in the FBS have begun fall practice. (Stanford, of course, is the slacker, but the Cardinal do not have a game Week 1, so let's forgive the program and move on.)
Here's a roundup of what's going on at camps around the nation, including injury news for Penn State, notes on a quarterback battle at Wisconsin and the surest ever sign that football is coming from South Carolina.
The first robin of spring. The first orange-tinged leaf on the old maple. The first morning where we wake up to find the yard covered in a thin sheen of perfect, untouched snow. The changing of seasons are beautiful, and their telltale signs can be life-affirming.
So, too, is shirtless Steve Spurrier, who made his first practice appearance Thursday, like the groundhog peeking out of its hole:
Also no shoes. No word on whether he'll get service.
Spurrier would put on a shirt to talk to reporters, griping about the exchange from the centers to the quarterbacks not going smoothly. So all is right in the world.
Tomahawk Nation noted that the wideout, who had 587 yards receiving in 2010, was not at practice Thursday. When Jimbo Fisher spoke about his team, he noted that Haulstead was academically ineligible, and that the senior's career is over. It caused some reflection for Bud Elliott, who lamented a career derailed by concussions, starting his sophomore year, wiping out his entire junior year and his eventual redshirt junior year. And not to connect dots, but concussions change people's lives off the field as well, and now he's done at FSU.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Kerr, a three-star tight end recruit, will need surgery to repair knee cartilage.
In Bill Connelly's Penn State preview, he pointed out that the Nittany Lions were strapped for depth due to their slim scholarship count and titled his story "Stay away, injury bug."
Well, it's biting anyway. Hamilton, an incoming wide receiver recruit who was considered "talented enough to make an impact" by Black Shoe Diaries, won't play due to a wrist injury he suffered in high school, while Wilkerson could miss most of the year with back issues. And Penn State is now spread even thinner, although both injuries are at positions where it's not the worst thing in the world.
Meanwhile, juco transfer Tyler Ferguson is a tad ahead of four-star freshman Christian Hackenberg at QB per Bill O'Brien, but the coach said not to look too much into it.
"After three days, I would say that Tyler is a little bit ahead, again because he has knowledge of the offense,'' O'Brien said. Hackenberg, on the other hand, "must be staying up late at night studying the playbook because from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3, he's improved. These are two very talented quarterbacks at the Penn State football program right now.''
The Longhorns held their first of three open practices Thursday, and while Gray was listed as an "OR" starter with Malcolm Brown out of training camp on Texas' post-spring depth chart, Michael H. Pelech of Burnt Orange Nation writes that's changed:
- Johnathan Gray is clearly the guy. He's so patient in the hole with great vision and an absolutely violent ability to cut.
Pelech called David Ash "a cool customer," praised wide receiver Marcus Johnson and noted Mack Brown spent a lot of time chatting up Gene Chizik.
An emergency appendectomy wasn't supposed to keep the QB out for long, and indeed he made it back to camp after about a week.
Of course, it's not clear which player Gary Andersen would go to if he had to make a choice, but from Bucky's 5th Quarter's notes on Thursday practice:
- Stave threw the ball well. In skelly, after a couple of check-down completions, he hit senior tight end Brian Wozniak in the end zone for a touchdown...
- Sophomore Tanner McEvoy looked good, as well. Of the three days I've seen him so far, he looked the best on Thursday...
The Golden Bears also have a QB situation as Sonny Dykes tries to figure out who's best to run his Air Raid, and the folks at California Golden Blogs even gave it a fun name, but it appears their trio's down to two:
Yes, it's true - based on the action that unfolded today, the Klindergoff trio may no longer deserve its name, as Austin Hinder was almost nowhere to be found. By my count, the Colorado native took only 4 reps in the practice-opening11-on-11 sessions, 4 reps in the practice-ending11-on-11 sessions, and only 4 more in the team's 7-on-7 period... When asked about this after practice, Coach Dykes did not confirm that Hinder was out of the competition, but it is worth noting that thus far none of the three remaining candidates has seen as few reps in a day as Hinder did on Thursday, even though they have all spent time rotating.
Hinder is a senior who has not yet attempted a pass in his Cal career, while Kline is a four-star redshirt freshman and Goff a four-star true freshman.
A tradition of Urban Meyer's is to give his freshmen black stripes of tape on their helmets, and it's an honor to be the first to have it removed, signifying their transition towards being just a regular member of the team. So there's naturally speculation about which player will get the nod, and Land-Grant Holy Land did not expect it to be the eventual winner:
Of course last season, defensive back Devan Bogard was the first to receive the honor of losing his respective stripe. And while many pegged one of OSU's five early enrollees (or perhaps a physically advanced player who could see the field early like Dontre Wilson) as the most likely to claim the feat this year, recently added to the roster preferred walk-on Joe Ramstetter from Cincinnati Elder receives the honor for this season.
We'll see if he becomes more than just a walk-on for the Bucks.
Has Saban ever been satisfied with a first scrimmage? "Not really." "Wherever we are, we have to continue to improve."
He also said the team has "a long way to improve" at cornerback without Dee Milliner, and that all of [the team's] freshmen] on the defensive line were capable of contributing.