Big 12 spring games wrap-up

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Recapping the Big 12 spring games from Saturday: 

Iowa State
Iowa State’s offense took off during the Cyclones’ spring game on Saturday, with both offenses combining for nearly 900 yards and 68 points. Grant Rohach completed 19-of-31 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. Sam Richardson, a starter late last season, completed 9-of-12 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns

— Running backs played especially well yesterday. DeVondrick Nealy rushed 18 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns; Rob Standard had 65 yards on 10 carries; and Aaron Wimberly had 89 yards on 15 carries
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“I had felt the running back position overall had the best spring,” Rhoads said. “DeVondrick Nealy is running as he was capable. He is going into his third season and that is encouraging to see. James White is James White. He runs hard, smart, and knows everything about the offense. Aaron Wimberly showed why we are excited to have him and why we recruited him. Rob Standard is productive every time we play him.”

Oklahoma State
Though Oklahoma State finished the 2012 season with an 8-5 record, it could be considered one of Mike Gundy‘s better coaching jobs in Stillwater. Now, with three quarterbacks with starting experience competing for the No. 1 job this fall, the Cowboys could also be in a position to make a run at another Big 12 title. But Gundy won’t tip his hand as to who will start Week 1: Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh. 

“We are not really going to talk about that from this point on,” Gundy said. “There is no reason for us to talk about what our quarterback situation is. I think we have been very open about it throughout the spring. Our players have been very open about it.

— Believe it or not, but Oklahoma State’s defense held the advantage in Saturday’s spring game. Linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert combined to intercept three passes, one of which went back for a touchdown. Afterward, Gundy pointed out Gilbert’s strong spring.

“Justin played very average last year, and he would be the first to admit that,” Gundy said. “He’s certainly very talented, and he was in position to make plays today, and that’s what he needs to do for us. He needs to be a guy who has several interceptions and runs the ball back. As fast he as he is, if he’s in the right area, he can get the ball off a tip–and that’s what he did today. He played very well.”

— Overall, Gundy was pleased with the defensive effort in its first spring following the departure of DC Bill Young.

“I know the crowd here is not used to it. We dropped some passes on offense that contributed to it, but I’m really excited about the play we’re getting on defense. In the long run, we’re going to move the ball and score a lot of points here, because that’s what we do and who we are, but if we want to consistently compete for a championship, we have to play better on defense,” Gundy explained. “I’m excited about our group, I think their attitude is different and I think they have a chance to be better this season.”

Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberbille is out. Kliff Kingsbury is in. And on Saturday, over 16,000 fans made their way to watch Texas Tech’s spring game. Quarterbacks Michael Brewer and Davis Webb combined for 506 yards and three touchdowns through the air during the scrimmage.

Jace Amaro led all receivers with 11 catches for 80-yards, but Derrick Edwards had the most receiving yards with 101, including an 83-yard touchdown pass from Webb. Senior linebacker Will Smith led the defense with 10 tackles.

“I loved the atmosphere,” Kingsbury said.  “It was a great crowd and our kids were fired up.  I thought the defense came out and really competed well.  Both sides kept it base but their effort was really, really good.”

West Virginia
Coming off a 10-win season with Orange Bowl victory in 2011-12, West Virginia was predicted by some *ahem* to immediately compete for a Big 12 title. Yeah, about that. The Mountaineers went on a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season and finished 7-6. Now with the likes of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey gone to the NFL, WVU must replace the core of its offensive production. Battling to succeed Smith are junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.

Though both QBs posted solid passing numbers, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson wasn’t happy with their tendency to hold on to the ball. “Taking sacks gets you beat,” Dawson said. “We’re giving up sacks we shouldn’t give up. If you sit in the pocket for three, four, five seconds and get sacked, you can’t do that. If that’s what they’re going to do, then neither one of them can play.”

— Running back Dustin Garrison shined as a freshman in 2011, but was limited last year because of an ACL tear he sustained right before the Orange Bowl. Garrison came back strong in WVU’s spring game with 51 yards on seven carries.

— Though it will be difficult if not downright impossible to replicate what Tavon Austin did for WVU’s offense, receiver Jordan Thompson could emerge as a similar shifty playmaker. Thompson had three touchdowns during yesterday’s game.

— Defense will still be a concern for WVU, but Travis Bell‘s move from safety to corner could be an upgrade for a unit that was picked on often during last season. “He has embraced the change, and he’s excited about it. He can run fast, and he has great conditioning,” Dana Holgorsen said. “It is an experiment that we talked about a week ago, and we moved him. We’ll keep looking into it.”

— The Mountaineers will be sporting some new unis this fall as well.

Colorado State adds Rice grad transfer V.J. Banks

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Rice’s loss has turned into a fellow Group of Five football program’s gain.

Saturday, Colorado State announced that V.J. Banks has transferred to the university and will play for Mike Bobo‘s Rams. As the cornerback will be coming to Fort Collins as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018. The upcoming season will serve as Banks’ final year of eligibility.

Banks had announced on Twitter in late January that he had decided to transfer from the Owls.

Banks started 22 of the 36 games in which he played for the Owls, including 11 starts in 2016 and nine in 2015. The defensive back started the first two games of the 2017 season before an unspecified leg injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

For the Rice portion of his collegiate playing career, Banks totaled 75 tackles (one for loss), seven passes defensed, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He also returned seven punts for 30 yards (4.3 yards per return).

NC State board approves new deal for Dave Doeren

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In late November, after rejecting overtures from Tennessee in order to remain at North Carolina State, Dave Doeren agreed to a new contract with the university, pending the board rubber-stamping the agreement. This past week, that rubber met the stamp.

NC State confirmed that, on Thursday, the system’s Board of Trustees formally approved the new five-year deal for Doeren. The head coach’s new contract will now keep him with the Wolfpack through Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are on an exciting upward trajectory in football under the leadership of Coach Doeren,” said NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “He has assembled a terrifically talented coaching staff, as well, and that continuity and stability has been important to our current student-athletes and recruits.

“We are pleased that Dave will continue to lead NC State football, playing in one of the most challenging divisions in college football, the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”

In five seasons with the Wolfpack, the 46-year-old Doeren has compiled a 34-30 record, including a 15-25 mark in ACC play. The 2017 season was his best of the five, with a 9-4 overall mark that saw NC State finish in second place in the Atlantic after divisional finishes of seventh, fifth, fourth and tied-fourth the first four.

Under Doeren, the Wolfpack has played in a bowl game each of the last four seasons, posting a 3-1 mark in the postseason.

Nebraska clinches spring game attendance crown, Georgia pushes past Alabama

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Georgia got its revenge on Alabama on Saturday, I guess. Months after letting a lead slip away in the national championship game, Georgia wiggled past Alabama in the spring game attendance standings on Saturday but the Dawgs still had to settle for second place overall. A record crowd at Nebraska led to the Cornhusker faithful having the highest attendance for a spring game this season.

Nebraska set a school record on Saturday with 86,818 fans attending the spring game in Lincoln, the first under new head coach Scott Frost. It was the first time Nebraska recorded a crowd over 80,000 during the past five years. Nebraska surged to the top of the Big Ten spring attendance standings as well, and stayed comfortably ahead after Penn State recorded an estimated 71,000 fans at its spring game on Saturday. Ohio State had led the Big Ten the previous three years but stadium renovations limited Ohio State to 79,000 available seats this year at Ohio Stadium, and weather and schedule adjustments to the spring game resulted in a crowd of 47,803 for Ohio State’s spring game.

The SEC once again dominated spring game attendance numbers this year. With LSU and Mississippi State numbers still pending, the SEC has five schools in the top 10 in spring game attendance as of today; Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M. As a conference, the SEC eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark for the fourth time in the last five years. Although the Big Ten is typically the second best conference in cumulative spring game attendance, the conference’s number took a big dip this season thanks to weather issues across the conference. Still, the number pulled in by Nebraska, Penn State, and Ohio State helped keep the Big Ten in second place ahead of the ACC.

Keep in mind spring game attendance is treated differently by every school, and the numbers often include estimates so the accuracy can be questioned. Even though there are still a handful of spring games left, none will rival the numbers put up today.

The updated top 10 is listed below, and a full database of spring game attendance can be found here (complete with conference breakdowns and a five-year record of spring game attendance figures by school).

2018 Spring Game Attendance Top 10

  1. Nebraska – 86,818
  2. Georgia – 82,184
  3. Alabama – 74,732
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Tennessee – 65,098
  6. Florida State – 60,934
  7. Clemson – 55,000
  8. Florida – 53,015
  9. Oklahoma – 52,102
  10. Texas A&M – 48,129

Jeremy Pruitt felt some Tennessee players ‘flat out quit’ in spring game

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New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruit has a message to his players and Tennessee fans. If you are going to enter Neyland Stadium, you better be prepared to work.

Following Tennessee’s spring game in Knoxville, Pruitt reflected on his first spring game as head coach with the media and he was not about to let anyone off the hook for a mediocre performance in the spring game. One thing you never want to hear from a head coach is that some of his players seemingly quit. That was the case for Pruitt today, without naming any specific players.

Even fans received some gripes from the new head coach.

Tennessee estimated a total of 65,098 fans came out to watch the Tennessee spring game, which is an impressive total and right around the average Tennessee typically draws for the spring game. But the crowd buzz must not have impressed Pruitt, who could be setting the tone for the fans in the fall in hopes they turn things up a bit once the games actually matter.

The same message is now being sent to the entire team. Pruitt has a high standard in mind, which is to be expected after being an assistant at Alabama. Was Pruitt truly this displeased with his team’s effort in the spring game? Or was he simply trying to play things down in order to let his players know there will be no room for poor efforts?