In front of a capacity crowd at a bubble-less Sheakley Athletic Center the Bearcats played their annual spring game earlier this month. In typical Tuberville fashion, the #1 offense faced the #2 defense followed by the #2 offense facing the #1 defense. I waited to write this article because I have been wrestling with a quandary – what do spring games really prove? Is it cause for concern if the offense obliterates the defense or vice versa?
At least in my mind a spring game’s main purpose is to offer a fix of the greatest sport known to mankind in between the end of college basketball and the last week of August. Make no mistake about it between now and the first week of college football it will feel like an eternity. A spring game is like football foreplay or soft core porn on Cinemax. Nothing more. Nothing less. Some schools these days don’t even run an actual game, but more of an open practice and drills much like the former Butch Jones. This year’s game put up stats I don’t even know if I could match in Madden.
The #1 offense completely destroyed the #2 defense this year. Gunner Kiel completed 18 of 26 passes for 221 yards and 1 TD. Redshirt freshman quarterback Hayden Moore went 22 for 29 for 391 yards and 3 TDs. Moore had his way with the #1 defense, evening connecting on a 73-yard throw to speedster #3 Johnny Holton.
Sophomore running back Mike Boone lit up the stat sheet with 154 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, including two 50+ yard runs. Tion Green had 96 yards on 18 carries with 2 touchdowns, and Hosey Williams another 61 yards on 12 carries. Tubs said “Mike Boone is going to be a force in college football as a running back for the next three years. He’s just coming into his own, learning what to do, but he’s got great vision. He’s got a tremendous work ethic. He keeps his legs moving. One guy doesn’t bring him down.”
Not only will UC have tremendous depth at receiver, but the Cats will also have a plethora of running backs. Depth breads competition and brings out the best in everyone. Boone looks like he will be the starter, but surely Green and Williams will not go down lightly, already having a taste of the starting roles throughout their careers. This is excellent news for the backfield. Kiel even referred to the backfield as “a three-headed dog back in there that’s just a bunch of beasts.”
In the interest of fairness, please note the defense was without 4 starters (including defensive end Silverberry Mouhon), was limited in blitz scheming, and used primarily zone defense. The defense also had to handle one of the best receiving groups in the country.
Tubs hit the nail on the head, saying “usually offense is a lot easier to play in spring practice than defense.” So this begs the question, what do YOU value in watching a spring game?
Here are some aerial shots of the game’s highlights:
By Andy Smith