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Spring football news wrap: Quarterback uncertainty at many schools heading into summer

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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Arkansas QB Brandon Allen (USA Today Sports Images)

As we pointed out last week, coaches don't like to proclaim a victor in a quarterback competitions at the end of spring practice. Some of that is prudent, because there's no need to proclaim a starter yet. Some of it is a mind game, to keep players motivated, even though the coaches have a very good idea who will start.

No matter the reason, as we recap the major stories from the spring games this past weekend, quarterback uncertainty is the lead topic at many schools.

We talked about quarterback battles at Oklahoma, USC and Florida State last week, although it's now easy to project Jameis Winston as the Seminoles' winner after Clint Trickett said he would transfer. Arkansas, Wisconsin, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Syracuse, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Tennessee are among the other schools that finished up spring without a clear answer at starting quarterback.

Here's a quick rundown of those quarterback battles, followed by the other spring game news from the weekend:

Arkansas: Redshirt sophomore Brandon Allen maintained his lead in the quarterback race, although the coaches won't name a starter. He completed 11-of-16 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown while working with the first team. Senior Brandon Mitchell was 12 of 17 for 138 yards, a touchdowns and an interception.

"I thought Brandon Allen has continued to move forward," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said, according to HawgSports.com. "He played his best football here the last two weeks and played really well with the group around him."

Wisconsin: Like the situation at Arkansas, it would be a major surprise if the sophomore

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Wisconsin QB Joel Stave (AP)

quarterback didn't start the opener over the senior. Joel Stave played well last year before a broken collarbone, and completed 15-of-20 passes for 161 yards in the spring game. He has much more upside than senior Curt Phillips, who started the Rose Bowl. But the competition hasn't been called, so Phillips still has a chance. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 82 yards in the spring game.

Texas Tech: Freshman Davis Webb is still pushing to beat out Michael Brewer for the starting job. Brewer was the backup last year, and has an intriguing skill set. In the spring game, Brewer was 26-of-43 for 282 yards and two touchdowns, while Webb was 17-of-30 for 224 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Although Brewer has the experience and has looked a little better in scrimmages, he doesn't have the job yet.

"It's close, it's close," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said near the end of spring practice, according to AP. "They've both come in and competed really well. I'm impressed with how each has picked up the system."

West Virginia: Redshirt freshman Ford Childress had 169 yards and a touchdown, and Paul Millard had 185 yards and three touchdowns. The race to replace Geno Smith appears to be pretty wide open heading into the summer.

"Not only are we not ready to name a starter at quarterback, we're not ready to do that at about 20 other positions," coach Dana Holgorsen said, according to WVSports.com.

Syracuse: CuseConfidential.com said Terrel Hunt took all the reps in the spring game with his team while John Kinder and Charley Loeb split reps with the other team, but that doesn't mean Hunt is going to be Ryan Nassib's replacement. Hunt did make the most of his opportunity, completing 19-of-29 passes for 209 yards with two touchdowns, easily the best of the quarterback trio. Kinder had 46 yards and Loeb had 9 yards. Drew Allen, a former backup at Oklahoma, is transferring in and will compete in training camp.

Missouri: The Tigers' situation is unique in that they have an experienced starter who has done some good things in the past, but whose star has dimmed significantly and is now battling for his job. James Franklin has not been named the starter, as Maty Mauk and Corbin Berkstresser continue to battle with him. PowerMissou.com said Franklin and Mauk split time with the first-team offense in the spring game. Franklin was 9-of-15 for 80 yards, Mauk was 6-of17 for 72 yards and two interceptions and Berkstresser was 9-of-18 for 93 yards.

"We're going into summer ball now and they said we're going to still be competing," Mauk told PowerMissou.com. "They're not gonna let us know until maybe even the last week before the first game."

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys also have a unique battle. Three quarterbacks started

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Oklahoma State QB Clint Chelf (USA Today Sports Images)

games last year because of injuries, all had moments of promise, and all return to compete to start the opener this season. Clint Chelf, who finished the year as the starter, has been the starter through spring, and completed 17-of-34 passes for 204 yards in the spring game. Wes Lunt, who began last season as a starter before getting hurt, had 122 yards and an interception. J.T. Walsh, who took over for Lunt last season and then got hurt himself, had 123 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he might keep the starter a secret until the Aug. 31 opener against Mississippi State.

"I don't think there's any doubt that we would prefer that they not know exactly what to work on," Gundy said, according to AP.

Tennessee: The Volunteers had the second-largest crowd in its spring game history, at 61,076. That's a sign fans are excited for the Butch Jones era to begin. They just don't know who the quarterback will be when the season starts. Justin Worley was first in line, and he has topped the depth chart all spring. He completed 8-of-18 passes for 123 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Nathan Peterman was 9 of 23 for 98 yards, and 48 of those yards came on one play. Protection seemed to be an issue, as VolQuest.com pointed out there were a combined seven sacks on the quarterback.

And now the non-quarterback news from the spring games this weekend ...

Penn State: The Nittany Lions appear to be deep at running back. Akeel Lynch, who redshirted last year, had 13 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. He'll join Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton in a pretty well-rounded backfield.

Notre Dame: The Irish's defense, which was as good as any defense in the nation last

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Notre Dame running back Cam McDaniel is tackled for a safety (USA Today Sports Images)

year, was pretty good in the spring game as well. The defense had 10 sacks, two interceptions and a safety, and the most notable offense play came from massive nose tackle Louis Nix. The flip side to that is the offense didn't play well, but the Irish isn't worried.

"If you go back to our spring practices, we have been doing a great job all around the board, having new guys on different positions – O‑line is doing great, and just a lot of that stuff," quarterback Everett Golson said, according to IrishIllustrated.com. "So I'm kind of disappointed that we had an off‑day, but our spring has been very, very good for us."

Alabama: The Crimson Tide had nine turnovers in their spring game, and AJ McCarron (who one writer was raving about last week for his stellar spring) threw a pair of interceptions. Not the best day for the Alabama offense, although it obviously faces a pretty good defense in practice.

The AP headline from the game was that Nick Saban thinks some of his players are "too comfortable," though his concern isn't a new thing.

"I spoke to a bunch of different alumni groups today and they all want me to make a comparison between this year's team and last year's team and the team before that and the team before that," Saban said, according to AP. "I wasn't happy with any of those teams at this point.

"If I was happy with them, we wouldn't have summer conditioning, we would not have fall camp, we wouldn't have 30 practices to get ready for our first game against Virginia Tech. We'd just pack it in and say, 'All right, let's go to Atlanta and play the game.' We're not there yet."

Virginia Tech: Coming off a disappointing season, with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler calling plays, the Hokies probably wanted a better showing on offense than what it got in the spring game.

Quarterback Logan Thomas threw three interceptions and was sacked twice. Running backs Trey Edmunds, Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman rushed for just 34 yards. As HokieHaven.com said, the offensive show didn't impress coach Frank Beamer.

"I can tell you there's more to our offense than we showed today, but we're also sorta out trying to get a good foundation and I think we've done that," Beamer said. "I thought that the more running plays popped for more yardage today. It's gonna be more interesting to go back and look at this video and see who did what and how they did it. But we've gotta function as a whole."

Things got worse after the game, as Holmes was arrested and charged with malicious wounding, a felony, and two counts of simple assault resulting from a fight in the early morning hours on Sunday according to multiple reports. Because he is charged with a felony, Holmes is automatically suspended from the team.

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