Spring Practice 2012

Spring Ball is an oasis. It is the only taste of gridiron we get until fall practice begins in early August. It is far enough away from the end of the season for the bitter taste to have dulled. If the season ended sweetly, perhaps with a talented running back shredding a conference rival for a stack of yardage? Well then the return of football brings stirring memories of success, and a tinge of hope.

So here we are. Spring practice begins soon. Who will replace Lance Dunbar, sole bringer of awesome for three-plus seasons? Right now that will be Brandin Byrd. He isn’t nearly as fast as Lance, or he is just as fast. It depends on which 40-time you believe and what your eyes tell you. That really don’t matter. Playing running back isn’t all about one physical skill or characteristic. It is about feel. It’s about recognition. It is about heart.

We don’t need Brandin to go out there and put up 313 and 4 scores. We just need solid plays, a guy to move the chains, and someone to be a threat to catch it out of the backfield. Going into spring, Brandin is slated as the guy to do just that, according to Dan McCarney.

Of course, if another guy steps up, he’ll be the one getting the praise. Then Brandin may drift off into the same spot that Cam Montgomery once occupied: erstwhile starter. You remember Cam. He was the guy who had 928 yards and 9 scores in 2008. He even started out 2009 with 237 yards, 2 TDS in two games. Then Lance exploded and Cam was hurt and relegated to obscurity.

This is a tough game and Coach Mac is trying to make this squad even tougher. The position is wide-open and from all accounts there are some guys with potential. Jeremy Brown, Zac Whitfield, and Antoinne Jimmerson (great name) comprise the cast.

I can’t wait.

How about the defense? The neglected half under Todd Dodge, has been steadily attempting improvement under three different coordinators in the last three years. Clint Bowen was a rising star and rose to Kansas (?). John Skladany gets the shot this season. The good news? Well Zach Orr says that it is just a matter of learning new calls. . .

But we all know better. That is the kind of thing you say during spring, when the real tests are 167 days away and Spring Break is on your mind. I mean, I’m definitely willing to buy that and be content and that is okay.

I’ll leave it to the guys whose jobs depend on hiring motivators, and motivators whose jobs depend on motivating young guys, to do what they are paid to do.

And that is okay. It is spring. I refuse to get bitchy and worried about the new season that is so far away.

Let’s sit back, have a drink, and ponder how many interceptions/fumbles/big hits Marcus Trice will contribute to the cause. The dude is funny on the twitter machine. He is gunning for the starting spot (and has it, along with Laramie Lee).

Let’s look at USATODAY’s blurb about the dude

When a Sun Belt team gets a transfer from a perennial top 10 team like Oklahoma, normally you think he’s a good one. UNT didn’t have much luck with Tyler Stradford, a receiver who came from Oklahoma, but maybe the Mean Green will with Trice, a ball-hawking safety.

I look at that as a positive. The guy got playing time at Oklahoma. He wasn’t straddling the bench like other transfers. If it weren’t for ….. You know what? Eff that. It is spring. Let’s just enjoy this thing. There is no reason to start pondering what problems could happen, and how disappointed we will be with a guy if things do or do not happen.

The guy is a good player in a position where we are thin. The entire secondary is a casting call. Anyone with some talent and/or previous experience is a must-play. I’m excited that we have guys like DQ Johnson and Marcus Trice. Unless the freshman dudes step up in the fall, these are the guys that will hold back the barrage of throws we will undoubtedly face.

It is spring, I’m hopeful.