The Five Most Fascinating SEC Spring Games
By BJ Bennett
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A look at the top five most interesting SEC spring football games.
Being that it's live football, spring games are always highly-anticipated. Some of them, however, they carry more meaning than others. Here are five spring games to watch in the SEC.
1. Florida -- The Gators ranked 115th in total offense and 113th in scoring offense in 2013 and looked especially frustrated over the second half of the season. Because of those numbers, they haven't won a football game since... New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, coming over from Duke, has brought a new system to Gainesville and fans are anxious to see points and production. Senior quarterback Jeff Driskel is back from injury and xpectations are high for early enrollee Will Grier, but the spring game will be an especially key opportunity for young wide receivers to showcase their skills. Rotations are being retooled along the offensive line, where Florida will be extremely young, and in the secondary. Also, keep an eye on the field goal kicking. Date: Saturday, April 12th
2. Alabama -- After ending last season with the program's first two-game losing streak since 2008, there will be an energized tone around the Crimson Tide spring game. Though many expect FSU-transfer Jacob Coker to be the team's starting quarterback come this fall, the current competition is quite interesting. Senior Blake Sims, A.J. McCarron's backup this past year, returns with 39 career pass attempts. He, redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod and true freshman David Cornwell are all trying to impress new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and the spring game presents a big-time chance. Additionally, the Alabama offensive line has a new look and the defense is going through a major leadership transition. Date: Saturday, April 19th
3. South Carolina -- Talk about a re-branding, the Gamecocks are moving forward minus team-leader Connor Shaw at quarterback and star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Leading receiver Bruce Ellington has left, speedster Damiere Byrd is out for spring practice and linemen Kelcey Quarles and Chaz Sutton are also gone. The top talent South Carolina has recruited the last few years will now be on display. Everyone will be talking about senior quarterback Dylan Thompson, but pay special attention to who is excelling on the defensive line and at cornerback and who is making plays on the perimeter. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will be identifying standouts up front and out on the edge. Date: Saturday, April 12th
4. Vanderbilt - James Franklin's time with the Commodores was the golden age of Vanderbilt football. In his last two years, Franklin tied a school record with nine victories, something the program had only done just once before, and changed the football culture at a traditional loser. The challenge now becomes maintaining the status quo. New head football coach Derek Mason comes to Nashville after a standout stint as the defensive coordinator at Stanford and seems to be a great hire. He is looking for significant help at wideout, where the SEC's all-time leading receiver Jordan Matthews must be replaced. Mason's most-glaring needs are at defensive back, where a bevy of veterans are now gone. Quarterbacks Patton Robinette, who did an admirable job this past season, and Johnathon McCrary will continue to duke it out. Even in the most basic of forms, Vanderbilt needs some positive momentum. Date: Saturday, April 12th
5. LSU -- Once again, the Tigers have lost a staggering amount of talent to the NFL. There are new faces at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive tackle and linebacker. Plus the SEC's second-leading rusher, Jeremy Hill, must be replaced. LSU's leading returning receiver is Travin Dural, who had seven receptions as a freshman last fall. An entirely new rotation is being rebuilt after the decisions of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr. to enter the draft early. Freshman John Diarse, who redshirted in 2013 due to injury, is one to watch for. Up the middle, a traditional program strength, the Tigers need playmakers to emerge at the core of their young defense. The spring game will be the next step for quarterback Anthony Jennings, who started the final two games of last season. Date: Saturday, April 5th
*Texas A&M has cancelled its 2014 spring game