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Several college football coaches will be making their debuts at their new schools in spring games Saturday.
Arkansas, Auburn, NC State, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Wisconsin will have new head coaches on the sideline, while LSU and Virginia Tech will unveil offenses under new coordinators.
Here's a closer look at what to watch in a few of Saturday's key spring games:
Alabama (ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET)
Two-time defending national champion Alabama will unveil its new offensive line in Saturday's A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. If the Crimson Tide are going to contend for three BCS national championships in a row, they will have to rebuild what was undoubtedly the best offensive line in the country last season. Gone is All-American center Barrett Jones, the 2012 Rimington Trophy winner, as well as guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker, who are projected to be selected in the first round of next week's NFL draft. Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and right guard Anthony Steen are back, but the Tide will have three new starters up front this coming season. Ryan Kelly looks to be the next center, and Arie Kouandjio might end up lining up next to his brother at left guard. Austin Shepherd is battling junior college transfer Leon Brown at right tackle.
Arkansas (ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET)
|Bret Bielema takes over at Arkansas after a winning tradition at Wisconsin.|
Auburn (ESPN3, 2 p.m. ET)
Former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who directed the Tigers' offense during their national championship season in 2010, is back on the Plains as the Tigers' new head coach. He is charged with correcting an Auburn offense that ranked 112th or worse in per-game scoring (18.7 points), passing (156.6 yards) and total offense (305 yards) under former coach Gene Chizik last season. Auburn fans will see how far along the Tigers are in their rebuilding job in Saturday's A-Day Game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Junior Kiehl Frazier and sophomore Jonathan Wallace are neck-and-neck running Malzahn's hurry-up, spread offense going into the spring game. The battle probably won't be decided until preseason camp, after incoming freshmen Jeremy Johnson and Jason Smith and juco transfer Nick Marshall join the quarterback competition.
LSU fans will need a roster flip card at Saturday's spring game. The Tigers are undergoing a complete facelift on defense after losing defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, tackle Bennie Logan, linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid to the NFL draft. There is still plenty of talent on LSU's defense, but it's largely untested. The Tigers also will look different on offense after coach Les Miles hired former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to lead the offense. Cameron, who has worked with NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco, inherits senior Zach Mettenberger, who threw for 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions in his first season as LSU's starter.
NC State (ESPN3, 1:30 p.m. ET)
New Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren, who left Northern Illinois to take over at NC State, probably won't name a starting quarterback after Saturday's spring game. Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas and sophomore Manny Stocker are battling to replace departed starter Mike Glennon. Thomas, a junior from El Cajon, Calif., threw for 4,269 yards with 18 touchdowns in two seasons with the Rams. He sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules. Stocker, from Coatesville, Pa., attempted only two passes as Glennon's backup last season.
Irish eyes will be on junior inside linebacker Jarrett Grace during Saturday's spring game. Grace is poised to fill the role of former Notre Dame All-American Manti Te'o, the heart and soul of the Irish defense during their surprising run to the Allstate BCS National Championship Game last season. Grace, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound native of Cincinnati, had 12 tackles in 13 games last season. The Fighting Irish also have to replace two starters on the offensive line and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore. Quarterback Everett Golson will be looking for some new targets after four of his top six receivers left, including star tight end Tyler Eifert.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy hopes his team's quarterback battle starts to shake out after Saturday's spring game. Senior Clint Chelf has earned No. 1 status going into the spring game, but sophomores Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh are hot on his heels. Chelf, who threw only 49 passes in his first two seasons at OSU, played well in the final five games after Lunt and Walsh were hurt last season. Chelf finished the season with 1,588 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Gundy and new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich might consider redshirting Lunt if he doesn't win the starting job.
The Nittany Lions will finally get to hit each other after second-year coach Bill O'Brien scaled back the tackling in spring practice because of his team's low scholarship numbers. The Nittany Lions have tackled only one day per week, and they'll get another chance to hit in Saturday's spring game. Penn State's quarterback battle will get the most attention Saturday. Sophomore Steven Bench and juco transfer Tyler Ferguson are battling for the starting job, but incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg, one of the country's top recruits, will be in contention as well.
Tennessee (ESPN3, 2 p.m. ET)
|Butch Jones has a rebuilding job, particularly on offense, at Tennessee.|
Former Red Raiders quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M last season, will unveil his no-huddle offense in Saturday's spring game. Sophomore quarterback Michael Brewer seems to have the edge over freshman Davis Webb, who enrolled in January. In the Red Raiders' second spring scrimmage, Brewer completed 20 of 31 passes for 281 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, while Webb completed 12 of 23 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Regardless of who starts under center, Kingsbury's offense will look much different than former coach Tommy Tuberville's attack.
Virginia Tech (ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET)
Virginia Tech fans will get a sneak peek at the Hokies' revamped offense. After his team rushed for only 18 touchdowns last season, Hokies coach Frank Beamer overhauled his coaching staff, hiring former Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Quarterback Logan Thomas is back after a forgettable junior season in which he completed only 51.3 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Sophomore tailbacks J.C. Coleman and Michael Holmes are the top candidates to start at tailback, although Coleman will miss the spring game with leg and ankle injuries.
New Badgers coach Gary Andersen, who left Utah State to replace Bielema, is taking every precaution to make sure his team is healthy heading into preseason camp. Andersen is holding out several of Wisconsin's top players from Saturday's spring game, including tailback James White, linebacker Chris Borland, defensive end Ethan Hemer, safety Dezmen Southward and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Andersen is still looking for a starting quarterback, as sixth-year senior Curt Phillips and Joel Stave appear to have pulled away from Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien and freshman Bart Houston.