UA, AU, Mizzou conclude spring practice with formal scrimmages - Tucson News Now

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Bama, Auburn, Mizzou hold spring games

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Three Southeastern Conference football powers will give a preview of their football teams this Saturday after completing spring drills. (Source: SEC) Three Southeastern Conference football powers will give a preview of their football teams this Saturday after completing spring drills. (Source: SEC)
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(RNN) - Three more SEC teams have their spring football games on Saturday, April 19 as the spring practice season winds down.

Auburn's A-Day Game will be televised on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET. The Tigers will receive their SEC Championship rings in a ceremony.

Coach Gus Malzahn, who led the team to a second-place finish nationally in his first year, said he's looking for QB Nick Marshall to improve his passing. Marshall, who runs a sub-4.3, 40-yard dash, made things happen with his legs last year but was not accurate as a thrower.

He's got an enticing new target in D'haquille Williams will join the team this year as the top JUCO player in the nation. The innovative AU offense will need to find a replacement for RB Tre Mason. Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne are returning, and Peyton Barber is an exciting redshirt freshman. The Tigers' defense should be much improved.

Alabama concludes its spring practice with the A-Day Game, which kicks at 2 p.m. It will be Blake Sims' audition to replace AJ McCarron at quarterback. Sims, who was McCarron's backup the past two years, has drawn praise for his performance this spring, and will compete with Florida State transfer Jacob Coker for the job this fall.

Receiver Amari Cooper looks to come back from an injury-plagued season last year, and coach Nick Saban said Alabama will try to get him the ball as often as possible next year.

The Crimson Tide had a vulnerable secondary last year, particularly at cornerback. The game will be on ESPNU.

Missouri, the surprise team of the SEC last year that advanced all the way to the league title game, has a lot of holes to fill. The Tigers are looking for help at wide receiver after the dismissal of Dorial Green-Beckham, and they also lost receivers L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas. QB Maty Mauk was impressive when he replaced the injured James Franklin last year, and will be counted on to carry the offense next year.

The defense suffered multiple losses, as well, among the DE Michael Sam and DL Kony Ealy. Andrew Wilson departs at linebacker and the secondary loses E.J. Gaines.

Last week, several other SEC teams held their spring games.

South Carolina's QB Dylan Thompson hit 8-of-11 passes for 129 yards in the spring game before exiting to let the youngsters battle it out for the backup role. Steve Spurrier called the fifth-year senior's long TD throw to Don Staley the play of the game. Freshmen Connor Mitch and Brendan Nosovitch will continue to vie for the second spot on the depth chart next fall.

Tennessee's head coach Butch Jones is working with his second straight top 10 recruiting class (CHECK). Freshman Josh Malone caught six passes for 181 yards in the Orange and White game and coach Butch Jones said he can be as good as he wants to be. Marquez North had five catches for 106 yards. Three quarterbacks are still in the hunt for the starting job: Justin Worley, Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs. Jones said his team missed too many tackles and pointed out that 16 of the 18 players who will report in June are defensive players. The crowd was good: 68,548.

Vanderbilt has a new coach in Derek Mason who pitted his offense against his defense in the spring game. The defense outplayed the offense, but freshman RB Ralph Webb had 114 yards on 14 carries, including a 60-yard scoring run, one of only two TDs the offense managed. Brian Kimbrow had 11 carries for 55 yards. Mason said the running game "is probably going to be as good as it's ever been." The QB position is not set.

Mississippi State put on an offensive show in its spring game, with the Maroon beating the White 41-38 – Evan Sobiesk hit a field goal on the final play.

Sophomore QB Damian Williams threw for 347 yards and a couple of TDs to Fred Brown. Mississippi State should have a much better, more experienced defense in Coach Dan Mullen's sixth season.

Ole Miss le and LSU held their spring games on April 5. Arkansas winds up SEC spring action next week, April 26.

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