College football spring games must be considered with a different approach than regular season games. After all, formations are often vanilla, there are sometimes alternate scoring systems and there are different looks with the first and second team units depending on the programs. However, if you look close enough you can find some intriguing details that are worth remembering as potential indications of what is to come. Here is a look at what we have learned from this year’s spring games.
Louisville’s Fitzpatrick Is Poised To Breakout
Even the casual college football fan knows about Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and his potential as the returning Heisman trophy winner. However, most people don’t know about the wide receiver that is poised to be Jackson’s most dangerous weapon in the Cardinals offense.
Dez Fitzpatrick provided a glimpse of his immense potential with a dominant performance in Louisville’s spring game. Fitzpatrick recorded nine catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the game. The athletic wide receiver showcased his speed, quickness, hands and athleticism for the Cardinals. He also has great leaping ability and his route running might very well be the best on the team.
Jackson has the potential to put up big numbers at Louisville again this season. Fitzpatrick’s potential breakout season is a big reason to expect it. Now they just need to build a strong offensive line to protect Jackson and they might find themselves as a College Football Playoff contender.
Nebraska’s Quarterback On The Rise
Mike Riley’s first two seasons at Nebraska have produced mixed results. The Huskers are 15-11 over that span but there is reason to believe they have the potential to be a lot better. A big part of that perception is quarterback Tanner Lee, who is poised to start at Nebraska after he transferred from Tulane. The 6’4’’, 220-pound Lee completed 13-of-19 pass attempts for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the Huskers spring game. His performance included a beautiful 30-yard strike to J.D. Spielman that had fans raving about his arm.
There is no doubt that Lee is a quarterback on the rise at Nebraska. The Big Ten doesn’t have a ton of quality at the position, so it’s possible that this leads the Cornhuskers to being a contender in the conference. The sky seems to be the limit following a strong spring game performance.
Buckeyes Are Loaded At Wide Receiver
Ohio State’s vertical passing attack struggled at times last season. That likely won’t be the case again this year for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is absolutely loaded at wide receiver with leading returnee K.J. Hill set to lead the way. Lee and Johnnie Dixon put on a show at the spring game as new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson’s focus on an improved vertical passing attack really showed. Five of the seven touchdown passes were from 20 yards out. Dixon led the way with six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes passing attack will be a major focus once the regular season begins. Based on what we saw in the spring game there is reason to expect the wide receiver core to produce some big numbers this year.
Burns Is The Answer For Stanford
Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst is questionable to begin the season healthy after suffering a knee injury in the Sun Bowl. That might not be the worst thing if it opens the door for Ryan Burns to get a chance to start. Burns looked sharp in the Cardinal spring game, completing 10-of-15 passes including a 38-yard touchdown pass.
Stanford wants Chryst back under center but Burns might be their best answer in the short term. It will be interesting to see what ends up happening with Burns since he is clearly their best healthy option right now. This is an important hole to fill because Stanford lost decorated running back Christian McCaffrey to graduation. The quarterback may have to carry the offense in the early part of the season.
Whether or not he can win the starting job and then impress enough to keep it will be an interesting storyline to follow this season.
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