- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Will Air Force be more versatile on offense in 2007? Who will direct Notre Dame's attack next season? Our non-BCS notebook addresses those questions and much more.
Longtime Falcons fans might have shielded their eyes Saturday when the Air Force offense lined up in the shotgun on the first play of its controlled scrimmage. The triple-option is history in Colorado Springs, as new coach Troy Calhoun will run a balanced attack with varying formations. Senior quarterback Shaun Carney said the transition has brought excitement rather than trepidation. "We're going to spread it around a lot more and it's going to be that way all year," Carney told The Denver Post. "It's going to be hard to prepare for us because there's the option and all the other things we do. We're going to be very versatile."
His completion percentage wasn't great by any stretch, but sophomore quarterback Rob Kass put the James Pinkney hangover on hold with several electrifying throws in Saturday's spring game. Kass, who expected to succeed Pinkney as East Carolina's starter, threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 77-yard strike to Jamar Bryant early in the fourth quarter. He completed 10 of 21 passes and also had a 55-yard touchdown toss. "All the quarterbacks played well," Pirates coach Skip Holtz said, "but Rob kind of distinguished himself today."
The spread offense has arrived at Florida International, which ranked last nationally in Division I-A in scoring a year ago (9.58 ppg). New coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator James Coley are wasting no time installing the new system this spring. "We got 140 plays in three practices already," Coley told The Miami Herald. It didn't take long for Conley to see what needed fixing after watching tape of the Panthers last season. FIU racked up fewer than 350 all-purpose yards in seven of 12 games. "There was no rhyme or reason for what they were doing," Coley told the newspaper. "The scheme was not a bad concept, but five out of 11 guys didn't know what they were doing sometimes and there's a problem with that."
First-year Idaho coach Robb Akey is hoping to decide on a starting quarterback by the end of spring practice, but the picture under center seems to be getting more crowded. Senior Brian Nooy and junior Luke Tracy appeared to distance themselves, but redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle has entered the competition after an impressive performance in an April 7 scrimmage. Enderle followed that effort with touchdown passes of 42 yards and 36 yards in Saturday's first full scrimmage. He could be edging in front of the others. "Enderle is learning a lot and we've done some things with his throwing motion that have helped him," Akey told The Spokesman-Review. "He played himself back into it, which tells you some good competition is going on."
Coach Charlie Weis will reveal the first two names on his quarterback depth chart when he returns from recruiting in late May or early June. Four players have competed this spring, including heralded freshman Jimmy Clausen. Zach Frazer and Clausen will start at quarterback for the Blue-Gold Game, but only because they won coin flips over Demetrius Jones and Evan Sharpley. "Before we come back for the second session of summer school, this thing's going to be in place," Weis said. Jones isn't sure if he can wait that long. "It's killing me to find out who the two (are), honestly," Jones said.
Unlike last spring, San Jose State can clearly identify its starting quarterback – senior Adam Tafralis. But after losing wide receivers James Jones, John Broussard and Chester Coleman, who combined for 141 of the group's 147 receptions last season, the Spartans need new targets for Tafralis. After Saturday's spring game, they might have found one. Senior Michael Hooper, buried on the depth chart for years, scored the only two touchdowns of the scrimmage. "It's a big opportunity," Hooper told The San Jose Mercury News. "I wanted to make that last impression, make it last through the summer." Senior Yonus Davis, the Spartans' top tailback, missed spring practice because of academic issues, but coach Dick Tomey expects Davis to be back in August for the start of fall camp.
Despite the point-shaving allegations surrounding the Toledo program after a federal investigation of running back Harvey "Scooter" McDougle, the Rockets' highly regarded 2007 recruiting class, which experts rank as the best in the MAC, remains on board. Several members of the 20-man class that Toledo signed in February told The Toledo Blade that they remain committed to the program. "It could affect the season, but I don't think it will," incoming tight end recruit Danny Noble told The Blade. "(My family) wanted me to think about it and basically let me know. I haven't been reading a lot about it."
First-year Tulane coach Bob Toledo hasn't waited long to shuffle his new deck. Toledo has facilitated several position changes this spring, including Charles Harris (wide receiver to cornerback), Adam Kwentua (linebacker to defensive lineman) and D'Metres Hill (quarterback to wide receiver). He has tried to increase speed on the defensive line, a big reason Kwentua moved over and Oscar Ponce de Leon switched to the offensive line. "We want more speed and quickness out of our defensive linemen, and (Ponce de Leon) didn't have a lot of that," Toledo told The New Orleans Times-Picayune. "But he does have enough size and strength and speed to be an offensive lineman."
Adam Rittenberg covers college football for the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald.
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