College Football Spring Matches: Alabama Fighting Ahead, Ohio State Ready to Remain Dominant on Offensive

The biggest day of the spring season in college football took place on Saturday, with defending national champion Georgia, SEC champion Alabama, Big Ten power Ohio State and Mario Cristobal’s Miami Hurricanes among some of the notable teams taking the stage to present their annual spring matches.

These spring matches give teams a good chance to get an idea of ​​how coaches look at their depth charts and where the youngsters fit into the midpoint of the offseason. So what were the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s board that just happened to have some legitimate national championship challenger? Let’s look at it.


Crimson Tide needs help in advance: The clock in the Alabama Spring game seemed to be moving faster than the actual time, but there was enough time to see coach Nick Saban’s offensive line need a lot of help. The first team struggled to give quarterback Bryce Young time in his pocket and could not consistently open holes for running backs – including Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs. Edge threat Will Anderson was particularly intimidating when he came into Young’s face for “two-handed touch” sacks twice in three games late in the first half.

Let’s get it out of the way: It’s irresponsible to make quick judgments on a team during the spring. But for Alabama, that may not be the case. Young was forced to flee his pocket in exactly the same way last spring, and that was translated into the fall when the offensive line ended late in the SEC in tackles for losses. Saban loves having a reason to shout at his players to create the competitive culture at the championship level, and his offensive line gave him that ammunition on Saturday.

Ohio State

Buckeyes’ recipe for success: Two of the biggest questions the Buckeyes face are the search to replace receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson outside and the defensive renaissance that new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is seeking to orchestrate. Well, they do fine with wide receiver. Star Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught two passes on 38 yards and a touchdown, but the real story lay behind him where others shone. Emeka Egbuka had four catches on 39 yards, Marvin Harrison Jr. had a chin and looked comfortable with the first team attack, and running back Evan Pryor looked like a multidimensional force to be reckoned with.

The defense had its ups and downs, but there is no reason to freak out. Yes, it needs to improve compared to last year’s squad, but Knowles said before the game that it would be vanilla on purpose and not bring heat to the quarterback. Attack is the driving force in college football, and Ohio State appears to be on track to continue its dominance. If the defense just plays adequately, the Buckeyes will be fine.


Beware of the tight ends: Tight ends have become a much bigger part of college football offenses over the past decade, and Georgia has perhaps the best tight-end space in college football history. LSU transfer Arik Gilbert got two touchdown passes from Stetson Bennett IV after being off the program in the 2021 season. The 6-foot-5, 248-pound freak athlete had 35 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers in 2020, and is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Other tight-ends, Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington, sat out of the G-Day Game, but have already proven how dangerous they can be.

When you throw these close ends into the mix with Georgia’s versatile backfield and wide receiving corps, this offensive should be much better and more balanced than last season. In other words … “get your popcorn ready.”


Tyler Van Dyke becomes a stud: The Miami signal caller took on D’Eriq King last season at Coral Gables and set the tone for what could be a great second season. Van Dyke was 20 of 32 for 172 yards and a touchdown to Jacolby George. It’s a great day if you look at the box office results, but it was even better if you watched TV. Van Dyke threw three absolute pennies in the first half, which were dropped by Hurricane-wide receivers, distorting his stats in a negative direction. It was so bad early that buh birds could be heard at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Miami is a work-in-progress, which is understandable considering it is Mario Cristobal’s first season as coach at his alma mater. But the progress the wide receiving corps showed alone in the spring battle is encouraging after just 15 training sessions. With Van Dyke at the helm, things should be fine.

CBS Sports was live all afternoon with updates, highlights and analysis from Saturday’s spring matches, which you can see below.

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