By The Associated Press Print
Written by Admin   
Friday, 07 March 2008 20:05
NCAAF Headline News

 This the time of year, college football teams start plugging holes and finding replacements for players who have moved on.
Forget all that chatter about how important the practice time teams get before a bowl game is. Spring practice sets the tone and lays the foundation for the fall. Here's a look at what's going on at some campuses over the next two months (teams listed in alphabetical order with last season's record in parentheses):
Arizona State (10-3)
Practice starts: March 25.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: The Sun Devils have to replace TB Ryan Torain, and it might be the most important position in coach Dennis Erickson's run-first attack. Senior Keegan Herring, who rushed for 815 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, is the leading candidate heading into training camp, but junior Dimitri Nance may challenge for the job after running for 500 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
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Arkansas (8-5)
Practice starts: April 3.
Spring game: April 26.
Job openings: New coach Bobby Petrino will have to replace RB Darren McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up. McFadden and fellow RB Felix Jones both turned pro a year early - and the Razorbacks also lost valuable FB Peyton Hillis, who was a senior last season. The most experienced RB returning is 5-foot-7 Michael Smith, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry last season as a redshirt sophomore. Smith has only 81 career carries.
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Boston College (11-3)
Practice starts: March 25.
Spring game: April 26.
Job openings: With the graduation of QB Matt Ryan, a likely top 10 NFL draft pick, the job is open to competition between Chris Crane, who was rarely tested as Ryan's backup for three years, and junior Codi Boek, a transfer from Idaho State by way of American River Junior College in California. The Eagles also have no returning running backs, leaving the job open for competition between top-rated recruit Josh Haden, who is already enrolled in school and eligible to practice this spring, and incoming freshmen Jerry Kelly and Eric Reynolds.
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Cincinnati (10-3)
Practice starts: March 25.
Spring game: April 26.
Job openings: The NCAA didn't grant QB Ben Mauk a sixth year of eligibility, leaving coach Brian Kelly to find a new leading man for his no-huddle, spread offense. He has several options including former Notre Dame quarterback Demetrius Jones, who enrolled last September and was released from his scholarship by the Fighting Irish, Dustin Grutza and Tony Pike. Mauk will be tough to replace. He passed for 31 touchdowns and 3,121 yards last season.
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Colorado (6-7)
Practice starts: March 17.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: The Buffaloes backfield received a boost when prized recruit Darrell Scott chose them over Big 12 rival Texas. However, the tailback spot won't be just handed to Scott. Sophomores Demetrius Sumler and Brian Lockridge will also try to replace Hugh Charles, who ran for 2,659 yards. The other incoming tailback recruits, Ray Polk and Rodney Stewart, could be in the mix for carries as well. Colorado coach Dan Hawkins has said his preference is to rotate backs.
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Connecticut (9-4)
Practice starts: March 18.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: Coach Randy Edsall is shuffling his defense, moving OLB Scott Lutrus inside, S Dahna Deleston to OLB, and turning LB Jarrell Miller into a defensive tackle. The wide receiver position appears wide open after Terrence Jeffers, who led the team last season with 582 receiving yards quit in the offseason. That leaves junior Brad Kanuch and former quarterback D.J. Hernandez, who will be a senior, as the experienced returnees.
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Florida (9-4)
Practice starts: March 19.
Spring game: April 12.
Job openings: The Gators plan to focus much of the spring on solidifying a defense that struggled mightily last season. The unit also lost two of its best players, safety Tony Joiner and defensive end Derrick Harvey, and has two new coaches. Freshman defensive linemen Troy Epps and Earl Okine already have enrolled in school and could make an immediate impact. So have cornerbacks Jeremy Brown and Janoris Jenkins.
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Georgia (11-2)
Practice starts: March 3.
Spring game: April 5.
Job openings: Not many. Georgia returns 15 starters and lots of experience. TBs Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin must be replaced to provide depth for Knowshon Moreno. Reshirt freshman Caleb King is expected to share carries with Moreno. King has good speed and big-play potential and almost played as last season when Brown and Lumpkin were hurt.
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Georgia Tech (7-6)
Practice starts: March 24.
Spring game: April 19.
ington could join the race in the summer.
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Hawaii (12-1)
Practice starts: March 31.
Spring game: April 26.
Job openings: QB Tyler Graunke has waited patiently behind Colt Brennan for three years and filled in nicely when called. With Brennan gone, Graunke finally has his opportunity. The biggest question is at receiver, where the Warriors lost their entire starting receiving corps including Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen, who left early to enter the NFL draft. RBs Kealoha Pilares and Daniel Libre are expected to work out at the slot position.
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Illinois (9-4)
Practice starts: March 26.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: The early departure of RB Rashard Mendenhall, the Big Ten's leading rusher, for the NFL leaves the Illini looking for a lot of offense and a leader. Junior QB Juice Williams will be looked to for leadership. RB Daniel Dufrene should get most of the carries. Senior LB Brit Miller will try to fill the gap left by the graduation of All-American J Leman.
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Indiana (7-6)
Practice starts: March 25.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: WR James Hardy's early departure for the NFL leaves quarterback Kellen Lewis without his favorite wide receiver, and now Lewis has to build new bonds with a deep receiving corps that will try to replace Hardy by committee. The good news is Ray Fisher and James Bailey are experienced and talented.
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Iowa (6-7)
Practice starts: March 26.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: Iowa has holes to fill at running back, linebacker and defensive end. Junior college transfer Nate Guillory, who is already on campus, should have the lead on the competition at tailback. Talented sophomore LB Jacody Coleman will likely be counted on for a bigger role, as will DEs Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard. The Hawkeyes have had a litany of off-the-field issues in the past year, and correcting those will be more important as any personnel moves coach Kirk Ferentz makes.
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Iowa State (3-9)
Practice starts: March 25.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: Sophomore QB Austen Arnaud as he takes over for Bret Meyer, the school's career passing leader. The coaching staff has high hopes for Arnaud, a former Iowa high school player of the year. Who Arnaud hands off to will be up for grabs, as seniors J.J. Bass and Jason Scales and sophomore Alexander Robinson will continue their compete for playing time. On defense, a replacing LB Alvin Bowen will be the toughest task for second-year coach Gene Chizik.
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Kansas (12-1)
Practice starts: March 12.
Spring game: April 12.
Job openings: Jayhawks' biggest concerns are replacing two All-Americans, CB Aqib Talib and LT Anthony Collins, and 1,000-yard rusher Brandon McAnderson. At cornerback, junior Kendrick Harper could take on a bigger role. He's started a few games but battled injuries. Junior college transfer Nathan D'Cunha is expected to move in for Collins. too. Highly touted JUCO transfer Jocques Crawford is leading candidate at running back.
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Kentucky (8-5)
Practice starts: March 26.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: Quarterback Andre Woodson figures to be a first-day pick in the NFL draft, and his departure creates the biggest hole for the back-to-back Music City Bowl champions. Top candidates for the starting QB job include speedster Curtis Pulley, who missed last season for academic reasons, and sophomore Mike Hartline, Woodson's backup last year. Also gone is running back Rafael Little, but the Wildcats have plenty of depth there, with Tony Dixon, Derrick Locke and Alfonso Smith all returning.
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Louisville (6-6)
Practice starts: March 19.
Spring game: April 18.
Job openings: Quarterback Brian Brohm is considered a possible first-round pick in the NFL draft, and the Cardinals could replace him with Hunter Cantwell, Brohm's former backup. Redshirt freshman Matt Simms, son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms, is waiting in the wings. Louisville also must find a way to replace Brohm's top target, Harry Douglas. The duo helped the Cardinals rank eighth in the country in yards per game, despite missing postseason play for the first time in a decade.
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LSU (12-2)
Practice starts: Feb. 29.
Spring game: April 5.
Job openings: Ryan Perrilloux, who appeared to be the heir apparent to senior quarterback Matt Flynn, has been suspended indefinitely for missing classes and team meetings. For now, the only two scholarship quarterbacks at spring practice will be Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch and redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. On defense, LSU must replace both starting cornerbacks and All-America safety Craig Steltz. Chad Jones, who played well filling in for an injured Steltz in the national title game, is expected to compete for a starting job. Two starting linebacker positions are open, as well the defensive line spot vacated by All-America tackle Glenn Dorsey.
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Miami (5-7)
Practice starts: Feb. 26.
Spring game: March 29.
Job openings: The big question at Miami is at quarterback, where Robert Marve, Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith will vie for the starting job. None of the three have thrown a college pass, and Miami coach Randy Shannon won't name a starter until August, but Marve - Florida's ``Mr. Football'' in 2006 - is the prohibitive favorite to win the job. Miami is also searching for leadership on defense, where DE Calais Campbell and S Kenny Phillips left a year early for the NFL.
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Michigan (9-4)
Practice starts: March 15.
Practice ends: April 12 (Michigan might not have a spring game).
Job openings: New coach Rich Rodriguez will soon be on the field for the first time at Michigan, creating a diversion for a coach in a messy battle with West Virginia over a $4 million buyout after his departure. Finding a QB might be just as tricky. Chad Henne is gone and Ryan Mallett transferred, leaving a huge void that Steven Threet, David Cone, Nick Sheridan or a freshman (maybe Terrelle Pryor?) will try to fill. Rodriguez is also on the lookout for replacements for T Jake Long, RB Mike Hart and WRs Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington.
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Missouri (11-2)
Practice starts: March 11.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: Tony Temple, the only running back in school history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, dropped an appeal for a medical redshirt fifth season a few weeks. But there's plenty of depth. Senior Jimmy Jackson had 331 yards and seven TDs and will likely end up in a job share with sophomore Derrick Washington. All-American multipurpose threat Jeremy Maclin also factors into the equation.
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Nebraska (5-7)
Practice starts: March 26.
Spring game: April 19.
Job openings: All three starting linebackers are gone from defense that was one of nation's worst. New coach Bo Pelini will ask MLB Phillip Dillard to assume leadership role. Offense needs to rebuild at receiver with loss of big-play threat Maurice Purify and dependable Terrence Nunn. Nate Swift and Todd Peterson are best of returnees. QB Joe Ganz started last three games for injured Sam Keller last season, and the job is his to lose.
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New Mexico (9-4)
Practice starts: April 10.
Spring game: April 26.
Job openings: It's overhaul time for last season's senior-heavy offensive line, and replacing T Devin Clark, an NFL prospect, is a priority. The top candidates are Sylvester Hatten, who started five games as a junior last season, and junior college transfer Karlin Givens. Lobos need a successor for All-Mountain West center Vince Natali, with juco transfer Ben Contreras the early favorite.
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New Mexico State (4-9)
Practice starts: April 2.
Spring game: April 26.
Job openings: Joe Lee Dunn, head coach at rival New Mexico from 1983-86, takes over as defensive coordinator, replacing the retired Woody Widenhofer. Dunn, who has handled defenses at Arkansas, Memphis, Mississippi State and South Carolina, will install a 3-3-5. He'll have three junior college linemen and three juco LBs to break in as Aggies try to improve a unit that allowed 36.2 points and 429.9 yards per game.
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