Spring game roundup: Oregon’s offense doesn’t miss a beat
By Zac Ellis
The offseason’s final crop of spring games wrapped up over the weekend. Here’s a look at the top news and notes from around the nation:
• Oregon: Chip Kelly may have skipped town to take over the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, but Oregon’s offense looked as explosive as ever even without its old coach. With former coordinator Mark Helfrich at the helm, the Ducks’ attack reeled off 65 points, 802 yards and nine touchdowns in the team’s spring game on Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota was sharp coming off a strong freshman campaign, finishing 13-of-15 for 169 yards and two scores in four short series of action. As the offense thrived, former Oregon tailback LaMichael James returned to Autzen Stadium to watch the scrimmage from the sidelines.
• UCLA: It’s no secret that UCLA is searching for a serviceable tailback to replace Johnathan Franklin, who gained a program-record 1,700 yards last season while lining up behind quarterback Brett Hundley. Jordon James and Paul Perkins spent most of the spring getting first-team reps in the backfield, but neither separated himself in the team’s spring game. James led the Bruins with 20 yards on five carries, while Perkins caught two passes for 39 yards and a score but did not record a rushing attempt. UCLA coaches don’t seem particularly concerned, though. “I think all are capable of being 1,000-yard-plus rushers,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “I’m not saying all will get 1,000. We don’t play that many games. I’m saying ability-wise.”
• Kansas State: Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein is no longer with the Wildcats, so Kansas State’s spring focused largely on replacing Klein’s record-breaking production under center. The Wildcats’ spring game on Saturday showed a bit of what to expect from the team come fall. Quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams split time in the scrimmage and combined for 699 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns. But coach Bill Snyder still sees the race as a neck-and-neck competition. “I cannot give you a distinct answer right now until we sit down and scrutinize things a little more closely in regards to this game as well as the other 14 practices,” Snyder said. “I saw some very positive things with both of them.”
• Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights honored victims of Hurricane Sandy by allowing local children affected by the storm to play flag football for the final five minutes of the team’s spring game on Saturday. The kids, ranging from sixth to eighth grade, totaled five touchdowns in their field time. Meanwhile, Rutgers’ roster showcased a few highlights of its own. Running back Savon Huggins led all players with 68 rushing yards, while quarterback Gary Nova finished 11-of-16 for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman linebacker L.J. Liston led the defense with a game-high nine tackles.
• Iowa: Freshman wide receiver Cameron Wilson looked like a veteran in the Hawkeyes’ spring game on Saturday. He hauled in 10 catches for 131 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Carl Davis notched three sacks and two pass breakups as the headliner of the unit. Still, coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t see anything defining in his quarterback battle between Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard. “We didn’t plan on making any decisions coming out of today,” said Ferentz. “All three are doing good things and have things to work on. We’ll try to address those things moving forward.”