Weekend spring game notebook, Part II
There were a ton of spring games across the country on Saturday. On Sunday, I offered notes from some of the more notable contests. After catching up on some more action, here is Part II.
— Aaron Murray is no longer the unquestioned leader in Athens, but Georgia has to feel good about new starting quarterback Hutson Mason, who played very well and looked sharp running the team's offense. He completed a flawless spring by going 18-of-27 passing for 241 yards and one touchdown. He seems to have good pocket presence and is athletic enough to keep plays alive with his feet. He is surrounded by a boatload of talent, so I wouldn't expect a ton of dropoff on offense for the Bulldogs. What they will miss, though, are some of the intangibles that the talented and gritty Murray brought to the table throughout his storied career.
Dylan Thompson is finally the No. 1 QB at South Carolina.
— Dylan Thompson finally has his chance to be the No. 1 at South Carolina now that Connor Shaw is gone, and the big-armed QB looked comfortable on Saturday directing the offense and getting a variety of pass-catchers involved. Steve Spurrier has done a tremendous job of elevating the talent level within this program, but will the inexperience at cornerback prevent the Gamecocks from being legitimate SEC and national championship contenders? Vic Hampton and Jimmy Legree are gone, so Carolina will need to get immediate strong play from their talented cornerbacks from the 2014 class.
— A crowd of 61,772 came to watch the Nebraska spring game at Memorial Stadium, where the Cornhuskers displayed their deep stable of running backs. Ameer Abdullah, who is the nation’s top returning rusher, was sidelined, but Imani Cross excelled with six carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The junior rushed for 447 yards and 10 scores last season. Meanwhile, Terrell Newby gained 51 yards and redshirt freshman Adam Taylor rushed for 41 yards on Saturday. At quarterback, Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw an interception on the first drive of the day, while Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe continued to show improvement. Stanton looked in control of the offense while throwing for 135 yards and two touchdowns, so a strong summer and fall could make things interesting. But Armstrong has the experience edge and should ultimately line up as the starter in the season opener.
— In the battle to replace prolific Tajh Boyd, last year's top backup Cole Stoudt excelled while Chad Kelly was benched in Clemson's spring game. The perceived future of the position, true freshman Deshaun Watson, was sidelined with a fractured collarbone. The crowd at Memorial Stadium saw Stoudt lead the offense on three touchdown drives, and head coach Dabo Swinney noted how poised and in control Stoudt was in comparison to Kelly. Kelly went 10-of-18 passing for 113 yards and two interceptions. As expected, Stoudt has the clear edge to be the leader of Chad Morris' offense this fall.
One other note
The Florida spring game was unavailable for me to watch, but throughout the spring I have continued to hear very positive things about returning quarterback Jeff Driskel, who is recovered from his broken leg. Driskel is in great shape and is enthused about the new up-tempo no-huddle offense under new coordinator Kurt Roper. Roper has been impressed with the team's young receivers, who need to develop and make an impact at a position that has not excelled the last few years. Sophomore Demarcus Robinson is a player to watch.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.