NCAAF

The First Weekend of SEC Spring Games: Biggest Question Mark for Every Team

First Weekend of SEC Spring Games: Biggest Question Mark for Every Team

Photo courtesy of Southeastern Conference Sports

April 6, 2019 SEC spring games:


South Carolina

Garnett-Black Game

12 p.m. EST

LSU

National L-Club Spring Game

1 p.m. EST

Arkansas

Red-White Spring Game

3 p.m. EST

Ole Miss

Grove Bowl

3 p.m. EST


South Carolina Gamecocks

Who will be QB Jake Bentley’s backup?

As the Gamecock offense prepares for the 2019 season, one thing is assured: Senior Jake Bentley will be the starting QB. However, as you progress down the quarterback depth chart, things begin to get hazy. South Carolina currently has three players vying for the role of No. 2 QB: redshirt sophomore Jay Urich, redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner, and true freshman Ryan Hilinski. Both Urich and Joyner have minimal game experience; in 2018 the quarterbacks combined for only 2 completions on 3 passing attempts. The newcomer of the group, true freshman Ryan Hilinski, was highly recruited coming out of high school as the No. 2 pro-style QB and No. 25 on the ESPN300.

Over the course of spring practice, all four of the Gamecocks top quarterbacks have equally split reps with the first team. “We have more competitive depth through our roster than we’ve had in our first four years” stated head coach Will Muschamp during an address to the media after practice. Being the Gamecocks No. 2 QB is a pivotal role. In 2018, senior QB Michael Scarnecchia was called up in multiple games due to Bentley’s injury battles. Pending the spring game, I expect to see Ryan Hilinski solidify his place at number two on the depth chart, Urich secures the third spot, and Joyner mitigated to solely a wild-cat role or transitioned to another skill position.

LSU Tigers

How will LSU replace former stars on defense?

LSU will enter the 2019 season without one of their most dominant linebackers in program history: Devin White. With White declaring for the NFL Draft, a starting spot is open at the ILB position as the “Rover” (the linebacker who lined up closest to the boundary). The reason why White was able to excel at the Rover was his speed. The top prospects to fill the void left by White are junior Jacob Phillips and junior Patrick Queen. Phillips played opposite of White at the “Mack” position. Phillips had a productive 2018 campaign, recording 57.5 total tackles while possessing enough speed to play the Rover. The other candidate, Queen, was delegated to a rotational role on the Tiger defense last season. However, after his breakout performance in the Fiesta Bowl last year, the junior has been gaining momentum coming into spring as a strong option for replacing White.

Arkansas Razorbacks

What changes will head coach Chad Morris make to improve the offense?

After an abysmal performance in Morris’ inaugural season that yielded only two wins for the Razorbacks, the pressure is on to see major gains on offense. Morris originally made his name as the offensive coordinator at Clemson, due to his dynamic and highly explosive offense; however, in 2018 the Arkansas offense took a step backward in their to passing and rushing production. Prior to Morris, the Razorbacks had run a pro-style offense. Upon his arrival, Morris installed the spread offense. The adjustment in the offensive scheme is commonly identified as a culprit for last season’s regression. Saturday will provide fans with their first glimpse of the Razorback offense in its second year running Morris’s up-tempo spread scheme.

Ole Miss Rebels

What will the wide receiving corps look like after losing three starters?

The Rebels will be without three of their top wide receivers from 2018: D.K. Metcalf, AJ Brown, and DaMarkus Lodge. All three will be either first round or early round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, and Brown leaves as the Rebels’ all-time leader in receiving yards. This would be an immense void to fill for any NCAA team, let alone for a team playing in the SEC West. The two pieces that Ole Miss can expect to produce at the WR position are sophomore Elija Moore and junior Braylon Sanders. Moore has the potential to be a dangerous weapon as a slot option, but his size and speed limit his ability to be a threat downfield. Sanders is better equipped than Moore to be a downfield threat, but has been battling injuries throughout his career at Ole Miss.

To add depth at the WR position, the Rebels will be forced to turn towards their 2019 recruiting class. Ole Miss signed five wide receivers: JUCO transfer Dontario Drummond and freshmen Dannis Jackson, Jadon Jackson, and Johnathan Mingo. Of those five, Drummond and Jadon Jackson are early enrollees and will be available for Saturday’s spring game. Expect Drummond, with his veteran experience, to receive significant playing time immediately, while the freshmen will most likely play on a rotational basis.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Tyler B.

    April 5, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I’d hardly call three unproven and untested quarterbacks “depth”, coach Muschamp. To your point about the gamecock 2nd string QB bring a pivotal position, I’d be shocked if the no. 2 doesn’t get plenty of reps this year given the fierce defensive lines the gamecocks will face in Alabama, TA&M, Clemson and Georgia. It’s shaping up to be a long fall for the gamecocks…

  2. Chris

    April 5, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Good work. Calling it now— Jay will come in and lead USC to a Sugar Bowl win this year. Kid’s got great intangibles.

  3. Ben

    April 5, 2019 at 12:05 am

    Really curious to see how all three of these teams shake out this year. Big fan of Morris’ system….lots of high school coaches around the southeast have scaffolded some form of his offense into their game plans.

    Here’s an article breaking it down more: https://matchquarters.com/2018/12/01/the-morris-clemson-offensive-system/

  4. Sam

    April 4, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Checking in for the Gamecocks. I think Dak is too valuable to keep on the bench this year. What skill position do you think he would transition too? I am excited to see what he has at QB, but don’t know if can beat out Bentley and Ryan.

  5. Anonymous

    April 4, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Great read! I am definitely eager to see how year two of the Chad Morris era unfolds. After coming out of high school ball and being a disciple of arguably the best coach in CFB right now, Dabo Swinney, things have yet to come together as the man in charge. He has however complied an impressive recruiting class that features some explosive type players. Don’t be surprised if Arkansas upsets a SEC power at some point this season.

  6. Anonymous

    April 4, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Great commentary! Go Cocks!!

  7. Anonymous

    April 4, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Brown is definitely be a huge loss for Ole Miss, going to be hard to fill his shoes, along with Metcalf. Both are crazy talented

  8. Dwight

    April 4, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Ole Miss would be lucky to get 4 wins this year. A lot of young talent but absolutely 0 good receivers and a Freshman QB…

  9. Anonymous

    April 4, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Great insight, especially curious about the depth at qb for the Gamecocks this year. Have a decent recruiting class all around too.

  10. Anonymous

    April 4, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Interesting to see who will be the S.Carolina backup. Looking forward to seeing how it shakes out. Hopefully Chad Morris will have a good sophomore season as he head ball coach.

    • Dane Johnston

      April 4, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      In regards to Morris, during his tenure as OC at Clemson, fans were eager to name him one of the top offensive gurus of the decade. Unfortunately, as a head coach, he has failed to duplicate that caliber of offense. I hope he is able to turn it around this season and prove that his stint at Clemson wasn’t an anomaly.

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