SEC football 'spring fever' arrives with first big weekend - Tucson News Now

SEC football 'spring fever' arrives with first big weekend of intrasquad games

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Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is back for his second season with Texas A&M, and his team's spring game will highlight ESPN's SEC coverage this week. (Source: Shutterbug459, Wikicommons) Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is back for his second season with Texas A&M, and his team's spring game will highlight ESPN's SEC coverage this week. (Source: Shutterbug459, Wikicommons)
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(RNN) - Many Southeastern Conference football fans will finally get a look at their favorite teams Saturday, April 13, and several of the annual spring games will be broadcast on TV and on the Web.

Texas A&M and South Carolina headline the slate of SEC intrasquad games this weekend.

South Carolina

USC's Garnet and Black game will air on ESPN3 at 1 p.m. ET with Anish Shrof and Matt Stinchcomb calling the action.

What to look for:

Coach Steve Spurrier's eighth South Carolina team is probably his best yet, and the early favorite to take the SEC East title. The Gamecocks lost RB Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a grisly injury then decided to go to the NFL. But USC's offense is still its strength, and the Gamecocks are likely to air it out more this year.

QB Connor Shaw, who threw 17 TDs and only seven interceptions, is back along with capable backup Dylan Thompson. Their reps in the spring game will be worth noting.

Texas A&M

At 3 p.m. ET, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the Aggies will play their Maroon and White Spring Football Game at Kyle Field on ESPN, with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the game.

The Aggies had a successful debut in their first year in the SEC, finishing No. 5 in the nation and upsetting national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa. But they finished behind Alabama and LSU in the West Division of the SEC.

What to look for:

Clarence McKinney, who was the running backs coach last year, has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator along with Jake Spavital, who will also coach the QBs. The two replace Kliff Kingsbury, who left to take the head coaching job at Texas Tech. How they handle head coach Kevin Sumlin's dazzling offensive schemes will be key if A&M is to continue rolling.

The Aggies will have to overcome the loss of All-American OT Luke Joeckel and DE Damontre Moore. The OL, in particular, will be worth watching.

Ole Miss

The annual Ole Miss Grove Bowl will air at 9 p.m. ET on CSS.

What to look for:

QB Bo Wallace will miss the game as he recovers from shoulder surgery, which will give the Rebels a chance to take a look at their reserve signal callers, Barry Brunetti and Maikhail Miller.

The defensive line is an interesting area. Stellar recruit Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end, should make a big impact as a true freshman after he joins the team this summer.

Coach Hugh Freeze landed the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation.

Vanderbilt

The Rebels' opponent in the SEC opener on Thursday, Aug. 29, holds its Black and Gold game at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN3.

What to look for:

The Commodores offense needs work – they lost their quarterback, starting running back and need to shore up the O-line. Austyn Carta-Samuels is a transfer QB from Wyoming who's likely to take over as signal caller. Word is, he's pretty good.

The team returns receiver Jordan Matthews, who caught 94 balls for more than 1,300 yards last year.

The defensive secondary is deep and experienced.

Kentucky

There's a lot of excitement for football in Lexington this year. Head coach Mark Stoops' first Kentucky team will hold its spring scrimmage at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Wildcats have sold more than 30,000 tickets to the Blue/White game, which has already set a new attendance record. Fans are hoping Stoops and Kentucky can follow the lead of James Franklin and Vanderbilt in becoming a winner in the SEC.

What to look for:

QB Patrick Towles is the most experienced returnee at his position, but he will contend with Max Smith and Jalen Whitlow for the starting job. The OL needs to rebuild, and Stoops has been shuffling players around. Stoops likes to throw, but RB Josh Clemons is a nice returnee to have in any scheme.

The Wildcats will run a 4-3 defense that needs a lot of work.

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