Weekend spring game notebook, Part I
There were a ton of spring games across the country on Saturday. Here are some notes from the more notable contests.
— Quarterback Jameis Winston was not sharp, particularly in the first half, when Florida State's first four drives included three turnovers (including an interception into triple coverage). Winston would end the day with 29 incompletions, as he went 27-of-56 passing for 396 yards and two touchdowns. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has expressed his concern this spring about Winston, who still needs to work on his mechanics while also playing baseball. The redshirt sophomore competed in the Garnet and Gold game before joining the baseball team in Atlanta to continue a series against Georgia Tech, so he's obviously juggling a lot this spring. However, he did so last year as well. And Fisher could just be channeling his inner Nick Saban while expressing concern. One real problem area for the 'Noles, though, is replacing Kelvin Benjamin, whose talent and big body will be missed. All you need to do is go back to the BCS national championship game last season when Benjamin caught the game-winning touchdown against Auburn.
US PRESSWIREEverett Golson is back at Notre Dame following a yearlong academic suspension.
— Malik Zaire had a strong spring game, impressing for a second consecutive year, as he threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns as he continues to challenge Everett Golson for the starting quarterback job at Notre Dame. The sophomore leftie exudes a ton of confidence, but it will still be very difficult to beat out Golson, who is back following a yearlong academic suspension. Golson threw for 154 yards on 13-of-24 passing, and he added a score on the ground. While head coach Brian Kelly has not named a starting quarterback, this is Golson's job to lose. Kelly and the offensive staff have high expectations for Golson in 2014 because they believe in his skill set and his development since 2012. Zaire would be a very nice option to have if Golson were to get injured at any point this fall because the Irish wouldn't have to change their offense, but I do believe that Golson will start the season opener against Rice.
— A crowd of 61,058 watched Ohio State play its spring game without Braxton Miller, who is recovering after surgery on his (right) throwing shoulder. Wide receiver Evan Spencer, tight end Jeff Heuerman, wideout Jalin Marshall, H-back Dontre Wilson, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and safety Vonn Bell also missed the game. Ohio State wants to display a more aggressive defense this fall, and it all starts up front with that pass rush led by end Noah Spence. The secondary needs to get better, though, as it was abused last year in the last two games against Michigan State and Clemson.
— Penn State opened the James Franklin era in front of an announced crowd of more than 72,000. Franklin said that he believes the defense is ahead of the offense, and he likes the depth on the D-Line. Conversely, the lack of depth along the offensive line is a concern, as the Nittany Lions have scholarship issues on the O-Line's two-deep. PSU will need to count on some freshmen, which may cause some issues even with established quarterback Christian Hackenberg poised to take the next step in his development. Sophomore guard Brian Gaia did excel, however, after moving from the defensive line this spring. But the program suffered a blow when senior guard Miles Dieffenbach reportedly suffered a torn ACL and junior guard Anthony Alosi was indefinitely suspended.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.