• Mr. Chill. Depending on who you ask, either early-enrolling freshman Matt Barkley was "the star" of Southern Cal's first practice Saturday, or no one stood out at all in the three-way race to replace Mark Sanchez as the Trojans' quarterback/automatic Heisman candidate/babe magnet. Whatever his chances of passing Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp, though, you have to give Barkley this: He's not overwhelmed out there. Buried amid longer answers in Barkley's Q&A with the Orange County Register is an 18-year-old just getting off another day at work:
Were you nervous? "Not really."
Did you struggle with anything? "Not really."
Is it harder being a freshman when the other guys have been in the system for a few years now? "I don’t find it that hard at all."
Was there a big difference in speed? "It’s not that bad."
Was practice what you expected? "I’ve been here, watching spring practice last year and years before. It’s the same thing."
The Register, especially, was suspiciously enthusiastic over Barkley's debut, in contrast to the ho-hum reaction by the rest of the SC media, which does not seems as impressed by the freshman's "innate confidence" -- maybe they're just waiting for, you know, a second practice for confirmation. They get their chance today after taking Monday off.
Quarterback battling aside, all we can ask of USC practices is this: Even though last year's video had to be removed, please, please bring back Brennan Carroll's walk-on tryouts on YouTube. That's all we ask.
• But the rest of the SEC thought it looked great, coach. Florida's new I-formation package, which made some minor news last week for daring to take the Tebow Child out of the shotgun, isn't rubbing Urban Meyer the right way just yet
"That I-package, I'm not sure how long that will be sticking around here," Meyer said. "You want to have it in, but like I said four years ago when I walked on this campus, we don't really have an offense. It's an offense based on what we have, so we can run [the I-formation] all we want, but if the players struggle ... we won't run [it]."
(For the ellipses, I just assume you can insert profanity.) The problem is personnel, not surprising for a team that used one player, Aaron Hernandez, for all its tight end and fullback needs after Cornelius Ingram's injury last year. There are no real fullbacks on the roster, and as for freshman tight end Dez Parks? "[He] has no idea which way right or left is," according to Meyer. "It's not looking very good."
• Bellotti is back! Well, in a sense, for a limited time, in a greatly reduced role: The just-retired Oregon coach/soon-to-be Oregon athletic director will hang around to coach the quarterbacks during spring practice, assuming the as-yet unfilled spot on staff created by offensive coordinator Chip Kelly's promotion to Bellotti's old chair. Most of Bellotti's career was spent molding passers, including Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, et al, making him one of the most overqualified quarterbacks coaches in the country. Just remember who's boss, now, boss.
As an aside, I first saw this news announced the news on its Twitter page but sounds instead like Bellotti would be conveying his wisdom to players in 140 characters or less. That would be a cutting edge move.
• By the hand of Nassib, we shall be resurrected. Amid the irony of a snowy spring practice Monday, Syracuse became the first team to "officially" settle its quarterback quandary: Redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib took every snap with the first offense and received a vote of confidence from coach Doug Marrone, who said "it's his job to lose." This is something of an upset: Nassib was a completely anonymous recruit last year and opened the spring behind last year's starter, senior Cameron Dantley, who dutifully reassumes the backup role.
In the meantime, poor Andrew Robinson, full-time starter for the Orange in 2007, part-time starter last year and beleaguered subject of a thousand "kwaddaback must go down" shots, feels "a sense of rejuvenation" at tight end.
Quickly ... Chris Forcier, apparently on the outside of UCLA's quarterback derby, has been given his release from the Bruins. No word on his next stop. ... Notre Dame's defense shined during the team's first scrimmage, but still doesn't know where it will fit Manti Te'o. ... On the heels of some Bobcat fans, the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls out Ohio U. for weak scheduling. ... Mike Gundy can already tell Oklahoma State's defense will be improved. Glad that's settled. ... SMU is switching to the 3-4 defense for the spread offenses of C-USA. ... The Orlando Sentinel somehow thinks Percy Harvin can be replaced. ... And would you pay $300 to watch Texas A&M play Arkansas?