The last big weekend of college football spring games is upon us, with playoff hopefuls such as Georgia and Oregon taking the field. We’ll also get to see Mike Leach and Washington State, Chip Kelly and UCLA, plus new-look Miami under first-year coach Manny Diaz.
Here’s what to watch this weekend:
2 p.m. ET, SEC Network
What we’re watching: It’s time to lay eyes on a new-look Georgia defense. Lineman Jonathan Ledbetter, cornerback Deandre Baker, and linebackers D’Andre Walker and Juwan Taylor are all gone, as is coordinator Mel Tucker, with Dan Lanning promoted to that role now. But never fear, Bulldogs faithful, because there’s plenty of talent coming back. Some names you might already know: safeties J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte and linebackers Tae Crowder and Monty Rice are a few. Then there are the blue-chip prospects in the pipeline. Nolan Smith, a former five-star prospect, figures into the equation at linebacker, as does four-star and No. 25 overall prospect Nakobe Dean.
What we’re watching: Miami plays its spring game in Orlando because Hard Rock Stadium is unavailable thanks to a Rolling Stones concert, but the Hurricanes are happy to make the four-hour drive north because this is where they will open the season against Florida on Aug. 24. Although new offensive coordinator Dan Enos said this week that no decision on the starting quarterback will be made until the fall, keeping an eye on the way N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell and Jarren Williams have developed after 15 spring practices will be on everyone’s agenda. There is no clear front-runner right now, as all three continue to grasp the new offense Enos is putting in — and that includes taking snaps from under center. Injuries have also hit Miami hard this spring — Navaughn Donaldson is playing center right now, and there has been no continuity up front. Miami is also banged up at linebacker, severely testing its depth this spring. — Andrea Adelson
Oklahoma State Cowboys
What we’re watching: A year ago, Spencer Sanders was the top QB recruit from the state of Texas, and after a redshirt season, he is under the spotlight as he attempts to succeed Taylor Cornelius. Sanders isn’t a lock to win the starting job, with former Hawaii transfer Dru Brown also vying for the job. But Sanders has the talent and ceiling to make Oklahoma State a Big 12 title game contender again in the not-too-distant future. — Jake Trotter
2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network (first hour) and Pac-12 Los Angeles (second hour)
What we’re excited to see: Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson took his lumps as a true freshman starter in 2018, but the idea was, partially, to lay the groundwork for future success. Chip Kelly has an outstanding track record with college quarterbacks and it will be interesting to see if DTR develops into the next great one.
5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Oregon (first hour) and Pac-12 Network (second hour)
What we’re excited to see: System changes are usually the most fascinating parts of spring games, which is why it’ll be worth tuning in to see how the Ducks look defensively under new coordinator Andy Avalos. Jim Leavitt was the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the Pac-12 for a reason, so Avalos has big shoes to fill.
Oregon State Beavers
2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Oregon (first hour) and Pac-12 Network (second hour)
What we’re excited to see: If we’re being honest, the Beavers’ new uniform unveil on Saturday is more intriguing than what will be on display football-wise. Oregon State’s uniforms are always among the best in the Pac-12. On a more serious note, it’ll be worth checking in on the quarterback competition between incumbent Jake Luton and Nebraska transfer Tristan Gebbia, both of whom should benefit from second-year coach Jonathan Smith’s tutelage.
Washington State Cougars
4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
What we’re excited to see: The Cougars will be loaded at the offensive skill positions next year, it’s just a matter of finding out who will be replacing Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Coach Mike Leach has a few options at his disposal — notably Trey Tinsley, Anthony Gordon and Cammon Cooper — so Saturday’s showcase will allow fans to get a sense of their various strengths.