For you college football fans, rejoice. Spring football is just around the corner now.
While some teams like touted 2008 national title contender Georgia and defending national champion LSU already have started spring drills, WVU and Ohio State won’t start until March 14 and 27 respectively with both spring games set for Saturday, April 19.
For coaches, spring practice is not just about plugging holes and finding replacements, but more importantly setting the tone and laying the foundation for the fall.
The Associated Press spring football capsule look at WVU, 11-2 in 2007 after besting Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with Bill Stewart at the helm after Rich Rodriguez bolted the program, stated: ‘‘Stewart has promised to open up the offense a bit, but first he’ll have to find some targets for All-Big East QB Pat White. Departed WR Darius Reynaud accounted for 35 percent of team’s receiving yards. WVU might lean more on WR Dorrell Jalloh. There’s big potential in 6-8 Wes Lyons. Noel Devine is heir apparent to RB Steve Slaton. Seven of top 10 tacklers are back on defense.’’
Of Ohio State, also 11-2 last year with its second successive setback in the national-championship game, AP wrote: ‘‘Buckeyes don’t have many vacancies, although they may need a new sports psychologist after losing last two BCS championship games by a combined 79-38. Buckeyes started only three seniors in last year’s title game and none of them are irreplaceable. QB Todd Boeckman is back, along with TB Chris ‘‘Beanie’’ Wells and WRs Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Almost everybody’s back from a defense led by LB James Laurinaitis, but there’s a huge hole where DE Vernon Gholston jumped to NFL a year early.’’
The AP also profiled such WVU 2008 opponents as Rutgers, Cincinnati and South Florida and OSU foes this fall as USC, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
Cincinnati (10-3 in 2007): Major loss came off field as NCAA didn’t grant QB Ben Mauk a sixth year of eligibility after he passed for 31 TDs and 3,121 yds. last season. Rutgers (8-5): Faces big task to replace Scarlet Knight career rushing leader Ray Rice, who left early for NFL. South Fla. (9-4): Ten offensive starters return, including QB Matt Grothe and RB Mike Ford, so spring is for retooling a defense riddled by key losses, but still features DE George Selvie, who led nation in tackles for losses last season.
Illinois (9-4): Early departure of RB Rashard Mendenhall, Big Ten’s leading rusher in ’07, for NFL leaves Illini looking for another spark on offense, but they still have jr. QB Juice Williams — their offensive trigger last season — back. Michigan (9-4): Rodriguez, first of all, needs a new QB as Chad Henne is gone and Ryan Mallett transferred, leaving huge void. Rodriguez is also on the lookout for replacements for OT Jake Long, RB Mike Hart and WRs Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. USC (11-2): Fourth-year junior Mark Sanchez seen succeeding QB John David Booty, but may be pushed by Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain. Wisconsin (9-4): Another year, another new QB for Badgers in senior Allan Evridge, a transfer from K-State. Good news, though, for Evridge: Travis Beckum, one of the best tight ends in the nation, decided to put the NFL off for another year.