With the final practice of spring football completed, Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raiders have one more item to check off of their to-do list before they can break for the summer — the spring game.
There will be a lot going on Saturday, Tuberville said, but the one thing he wants to take away from the game is a clearer picture of the quarterback situation.
“Consistency out of the quarterbacks; we’re going to run a lot of things on defense, and we’re going to give all the quarterbacks a look,” Tuberville said. “We got to find two guys coming out of spring ball at quarterback that we feel good about.”
The game kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium; gates open at 11 a.m.
After the game, fans will have the chance to meet their favorite players and coaches in a one-hour autograph session.
Before the fans get to do that, they will get to take in the Red Raiders’ final tuneup of the semester.
The biggest difference this year is Seth Doege and Jacob Karam will not be playing just for positioning on the depth chart, but rather the starting job.
Because Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield were both sidelined last year, Doege and Karam got quality playing time in the spring game.
Karam and Doege together threw for 485 yards and 10 touchdowns last year — Doege produced 301 of those yards.
Getting to play in last year’s game was helpful, Doege said, but the spring game is just another opportunity for the Red Raiders to get better as a team.
“Well, I know what to expect, and I played in a regular season game, too,” Doege said. “The spring game is just another practice with people out here, so it’s not a lot of pressure or anything. It’s just come out here and get some work in and get better.”
Not only will the quarterbacks be watched closely, but the rest of the offensive unit will as well.
Coming out of the spring practices, a few players have made their cases for a starting job come fall.
Sophomore wide receiver Darren Moore and freshman running back Ronnie Daniels have been among the crop of younger players opening critics’ eyes this spring.
The spring game will be just another chance for these players and others to reinforce their case for a spot on the team.
Not only these players, but the entire offense has been making improvements this spring, too.
Doege said the final product is far from finished, but the team is ready to show the fans what they have been working on come Saturday.
“I feel pretty confident that we’re going to have a good showing; there’s still a lot of improvement that we’ve got to work on through the rest of the spring and summer to be where we want to be on game one,” Doege said. “But overall in the spring, I feel pretty good about where we’re at, and I think we’re going to put on a good show.”
Following a sloppy practice Wednesday, the defense seemed more fired up and ready to go when they took the field for practice Thursday.
The defense arguably suffered the most growing pains last year. Paired with injuries and other issues, the defense last year gave up 162.5 rushing yards and 293.8 passing yards per game to opposing teams.
A lot has changed, though, since that squad was on the field.
The biggest change being the man running the defense — new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow.
Sophomore defensive back D.J. Johnson, who played in 12 games last season recording 43 tackles and grabbing three interceptions, said the defense is improved.
“The defense is great. I feel like everybody feels comfortable with it or feels comfortable playing it,” Johnson said. “People still have to get comfortable with the scheme and everything, but as a coach he expects the best out of everybody.”
Injuries, on the other hand, have not been as big an issue this year as they were last year.
Tuberville said the players this year are a lot further along than last year’s squad.
“We got a lot more guys this year ready to play than we did this time last year,” Tuberville said. “Doesn’t mean we’re ready to go, but we got a lot more guys we think are capable of playing in terms of depth.”