April 28, 2006

Rivals Spring Football roundup

Spring football ultimately creates as many questions as it answers.

Here at Rivals.com, we've learned that lesson all too well over the last month.

Nobody has provided more exhaustive coverage of spring football this year. And we're not done yet. A few schools have spring games this weekend, and we'll deliver reports on Oregon and Maryland.

We have covered 11 spring games across the country while sending staffers from Boston College to Southern California and many points in between.

SPRING CROWDS
Here are the estimated attendances at spring football games for each of the teams that finished the 2005 season in The Associated Press Top 25. The teams are listed in order of ranking. The top five crowds are in bold.
Team Attendance
Texas 41,200
USC 15,000
Penn State 18,000
Ohio State 63,649
West Virginia 9,000
LSU 3,000
Virginia Tech 25,000
Alabama 40,000
Notre Dame 41,279
Georgia 18,530
TCU NA*
Florida 45,200
Oregon NA**
Auburn 9,923
Wisconsin 10,139
UCLA NA*
Miami 9,000
Boston College NA*
Louisville 11,200
Texas Tech 6,500
Clemson 17,500
Oklahoma 25,000
Florida State 11,200
Nebraska 57,415
California 4,000
Notable attendance totals for spring football games involving teams that finished last year outside the AP Top 25: Kansas State (31,875), Texas A&M (31,000), Mississippi (22,486), Marshall (17,346), Tennessee (15,411), Oklahoma State (15,000), South Carolina (10,210), Brigham Young (10,000).
* - Texas Christian, UCLA and Boston College didn't report an estimated attendance for their spring games.
** - Oregon is holding its spring game Saturday.
Along the way, we hoped to answer some of the questions college football fans were asking as they prepare for the 2006 season.

    Now that he's won a national championship, how well is Texas coach Mack Brown handling prosperity?

    What difference will all the staff changes make at Miami?

    Was last season an aberration or a sign that Penn State has reasserted itself as one of the nation's elite programs?

We found out that Brown and the rest of the Longhorns are coping with success just fine, though they might want to settle on Vince Young's replacement before that Sept. 9 showdown with Ohio State.

We saw Miami's offense still needs plenty of work, though its defense may be as good as any in the country.

We discovered Penn State has several areas of concern particularly on the offensive line and in the secondary but the rapid development of first-year starting quarterback Anthony Morelli should keep the Nittany Lions in Big Ten title contention.

And we apparently weren't the only ones interested in finding the answers to these questions. Wherever we went this spring, we had plenty of company.

Last weekend, we sent staffers to spring games at Ohio State, Florida and Penn State. Those three games attracted more than 125,000 fans, even though a driving rainstorm limited the Penn State turnout to 18,000.

The hundreds of thousands of fans who joined us at spring games across the country saw plenty of reasons for optimism.

Our top-rated quarterback prospect in the 2006 recruiting class Georgia's Matthew Stafford threw a 64-yard touchdown pass on his first snap in a Bulldogs uniform.

Troy Smith, the offensive MVP of Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame, picked up right where he left off by leading a touchdown drive in his only series last weekend.

Highly touted quarterback recruit Tim Tebow justified the hype by going 15-of-21 for 197 yards in Florida's spring game.

But all the intriguing performances we witnessed only left us asking more questions.

    Will Miami adjust to new offensive coordinator Rich Olson's scheme soon enough to prevent the season opener with Florida State from turning into another defensive struggle?

    Is Tebow going to push senior quarterback Chris Leak for playing time at Florida?

Nobody will know the answers to those questions until sometime this fall.

But you can bet we'll be there to let you know as soon as we find out.

Spring Football Central '06:
Report Cards | Features | Video Tour | Rivals Radio interviews | Conference Breakdowns

Weekend Results
In Columbus, OSU quarterback Troy Smith was limited to one series of offense, but the senior made the most of it. Smith completed all four pass attempts as the Scarlet team scored the only touchdown of the day on the opening drive. After that, a young OSU defense took over by intercepting three passes from the backup QBs.
Story: Young Bucks shine in Ohio State spring game
In Gainesville, freshman quarterback Tim Tebow stole the show. Florida's Tebow completed 15 of 21 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue team past Chris Leak's Orange team, 24-6. Despite the impressive performance from the Tebow, Urban Meyer insisted Leak is still the man.
Story: Tebow steals show at UF spring game
In Happy Valley, quarterback Anthony Morelli took a big step towards filling Michael Robinson's shoes. Morelli was 13-of-16 for 191 yards as the Blue team dropped the White team in PSU's spring game, 17-0. Jordan Norwood was also impressive with eight catches for 154 yards.
Story: Morelli plays hero in PSU spring game
More coverage of Ohio State, Florida and Penn State:
OSU's Smith a natural leader | Meyer still looking for a back | Brown cornerstone for PSU
Best yet to come for Bucks | UF seeks attitude adjustment | PSU expectations high again

Spring Report Cards
Florida
Florida finds wide receiver help
Ohio State
Ohio State's hopes rest with young defense
Miami
Attitude, dominant defense key for Canes
Michigan
Will trimming the fat help running game?
Tennessee
Vols get back to basics to fix ailing offense
Southern Cal
Trojans look to find championship personality
Clemson
New faces in secondary key to Tigers' success
Georgia
Bulldogs facing full-blown QB controversy
LSU
Tigers impressive depth on display this spring
Auburn
Speedy defense dominates A-Day
Penn State
Posluszny itching to get back on field

More Features
Louisville counting on Brohm to bounce back Miami's Leggett shaking sophomore slump
New staff gives wake-up call to Miami Michigan's Hart hungry to remain healthy
USC's Sanchez gets confidence boost Southern Cal just re-loads along O-line
Running backs happy to share at Clemson Tigers counting on Proctor to finish strong
Clemson QBs struggle through spring game Tennessee keeps spring game simple
Vols offense still has long way to go Quarterback job up for grabs at Georgia
I-back still a glamour position at Nebraska Blackshirts getting that swagger back
Backup QBs shine at LSU spring scrimmage LSU's Flynn making the most of his chance
No shortage of D-line talent for Tigers Samardzija happy to be two-sport star
Visit to Notre Dame a chilling experience Quinn ready to deal with great expectations
The two sides of Irish coach Charlie Weis Embarrassment of riches in Auburn backfield
Darby looking to make history at Alabama Is Harrell the next in line at Texas Tech?
Texas A&M's McGee set to lead by example Morriss has Baylor bearing down on Big 12
It all starts up front for Texas Time for Longhorns to get back to work

Rivals.com Spring Video Tour
Boston College:
One-on-one with Tom O'Brien
Brian Toal interviews J. Beekman and M. Ryan
Beekman and Ryan interview Toal
Tennessee:
One-on-one with Phillip Fulmer, part I
One-on-one with Phillip Fulmer, Part II
Antwan Stewart interviews Jerod Mayo
Jerod Mayo interviews Antwan Stewart
Georgia:
One-on-one with Mark Richt
Mohamed Massaquoi interviews Danny Ware
Danny Ware interviews Mohamed Massaquoi
Oklahoma:
One-on-one with Bob Stoops

West Virginia:
One-on-one with Rich Rodriguez
Dan Mozes interviews Steve Slaton
Steve Slaton interviews Dan Mozes

Rivals Radio Interviews
West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez NIU running back Garrett Wolfe
Clemson QB Will Proctor Tulane coach Chris Scelfo
Miami coach Larry Coker Texas Tech coach Mike Leach
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz Missouri coach Gary Pinkel
Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee Indiana wide receiver James Hardy
Oklahoma State safety Donovan Woods Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko

Spring Conference Breakdowns
Big East
West Virginia for real, but conference looks top-heavy
ACC
In the end, Florida State and Miami are still the favorites
SEC
Replacing big names no problem in this talent pool
Big 12
Former powers now chasing national champion Texas
Big Ten
Get ready for another great race



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