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Dr. Saturday

Spring primer: Looking for a few good quarterbacks, Part II

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Here are the rest of the spring primers from teams that began (or begin) this week.


Rice
Start date: March 11
End date: April 11

What to watch: Rice loses 23 seniors from last year’s Conference USA championship team, which leaves a lot of spots up for grabs during spring ball. Not surprisingly, all eyes will be on quarterback Driphus Jackson, who is set to replace four-year starter Taylor McHargue. Jackson has had limited playing time, but he’s probably best known for leading Rice to a 33-14 bowl win against Air Force in 2012.


Tulsa
Start date: March 11
End date: April 12

What to watch: Tulsa returns 15 starters from last year, including 10 from a defense that struggled much of last season. The Golden Hurricane ranked 101st in scoring defense allowing 33.9 points per game and allowed 429.6 yards per game, which was 93rd nationally. While there will be a strong emphasis on getting better on defense, the Golden Hurricane will have to replace key offensive pieces at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and along the offensive line.


USC
Start date: March 11
End date: April 19

What to watch: On paper, USC looks solid coming into spring. And while there are a few positions to iron out -- namely quarterback and center -- the main goal of the spring will be for USC to find its identity under new head coach Steve Sarkisian. The team has already upped its offensive tempo and the defense will alternate between 4-3 and 3-4 formations. Learning a new way of doing things under the third coach in less than a season will be the main focus for the Trojans this spring.


Vanderbilt
Start date: March 11
End date: April 12

What to watch: There were a lot of change at Vanderbilt with James Franklin -- and pretty much his entire staff -- leaving for Penn State. But if you had to focus on one area of concern, it would probably be at wide receiver. Jordan Matthews seemed to be the Commodores do-it-all guy and now they’ll have to find someone to fill his shows. Vandy returns four receivers with playing experience, but they have just 19 catches between them. The spring will be ideal for new quarterback Patton Robinette to asses his receiving corps and start to gain a rapport.


Boston College
Start date: March 12
End date: April 12

What to watch: Former Florida starting quarterback Tyler Mur[hy joins the program to replace three-year starter Chase Rettig. Murphy, who graduated from Florida and will be immediately eligible for the Eagles, was 2-4 as a starter before suffering an injury last season. He passed for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns and also rushed for three scores. Murphy will be competing against early enrollee Darius Wade and James Walsh, but Murphy has a lot of experience, which should bode well for his chances to earn the starting role for the fall.


Florida Atlantic
Start date: March 12
End date: April 5

What to watch: Florida Atlantic is trying to build on its best season since 2008. The Owls won their final four games to become bowl eligible and even though they didn’t play in a bowl, there’s promise under new head coach Charlie Partridge that might not have otherwise been there especially after the resignation of coach Carl Pelini. The offense returns seven starters, but the defense struggled with injuries last season and lost several players to graduation. Defense will be the focus this spring, but so will feeding off the good feelings from the end of last year.


Toledo
Start date: March 12
End date: April 12

What to watch: Toledo will spend most of its spring looking to replace former starting quarterback Terrance Owens. Junior Phillip Ely, an Alabama transfer, sophomore Logan Woodside, who started one game in 2013, and redshirt freshman Michael Julian all will be competing for the spot. Toldeo’s passing offense struggled last season averaging just 206.8 yards per game and accounting for just 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.


UCF
Start date: March 12
End date: April 12

What to watch: The Knights will have to fill the void left by quarterback Blake Bortles, who led UCF to the first BCS bowl in school history. Coach George O’Leary said Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo would alternate reps until one of them separates themselves, but don't count out freshman Tyler Harris. Holman is the only one of the three competitors with playing experience and that came in a rout of UConn last season.


Louisiana Tech
Start date: March 14
End date: April 12

What to watch: Louisiana Tech went 4-8 during coach Skip Holtz’s first season and when the dust cleared, he felt like it was time to revamp his defense. So, he brought in former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz as well as defensive line coach Oscar Giles and safeties coach Blake Baker. Louisiana Tech ranked eighth in Conference USA in total defense and eighth in scoring defense allowing 26.3 points per game.


Alabama
Start date: March 15
End date: April 19

What to watch: While there are many concerns coming into Alabama’s spring, including a two-game losing streak to end the season, all eyes will be on the competition to replace departed quarterback AJ McCarron. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is likely the favorite, but senior Blake Sims has the most experience and Cooper Bateman, Alec Morris and Parker McLeod all could make for a lengthy competition that could go into the fall. And with Lane Kiffin as the new offensive coordinator, the Tide offense will get a significant makeover.

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