Spring Football is one of my favorite times of the year. It's just starting to heat up to that near perfect summer temperature, everything is blooming (including my allergies), and high schools and colleges all around the grand ol' US of A are strapping up into full pads and beating up on each other for around 3 weeks. This is a time-honored tradition around modern football, and just like many things in football, we all love overreacting to it. Nearly every service that covers football as a whole has a Heisman prediction article up around the time that spring football ends, teams rise and fall in power rankings, and we judge players and coaches based on how a glorified practice goes. It's high time we just took a step back and had a deep breath before we overreact to any piece of news coming out of spring football.
1. We aren't seeing the whole picture
Nearly every spring, there's a huge position battle that grabs the attention of every sports fan. Whether it's what quarterback will start or will the heralded 5-star recruit break into the rotation, every time a specific player steps on the field or off of it, we hold our breath to see how well he plays or how he is received by the coaches. While it certainly is important to get some competition in spring ball in, how many people have actually been named the starter at the end of spring practice? While there certainly have been some players who earned their spots in Spring practice, the amount of position battles that remain unresolved definitely outnumber the resolved position battles.
Lately, we as Texas Tech fans heard the tales of the battle between Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes for the starting spot. Even though both have performed admirably this spring, there is still not a definitive starter going into next season. That will be decided in Fall camps. Spring football is a strange thing for coaches because it matters, but ultimately it is a series of practices. A defensive player who performs well in the spring against our Air Raid style offense might not fare as well as another player against a running-based attack. Not only that, but there are 14 other spring practices that we aren't seeing. If a player struggles during the spring game, but is absolutely all over the field making plays in the other practices, it makes sense to play him. Sometimes, we as fans don't understand that because we can't see the whole picture.
2. Spring Games are often more watered down than the practices
If you're getting a brand new coordinator like we are in David Gibbs, a huge portion of spring football is going to be dedicated to installing his brand of football. That's going to take a lot of time, and by his own words we haven't gotten the full defense installed yet. So, heading into a scenario where we already play our cards close to our chest, we don't even have a full hand to protect. The product that we saw on the field for the Spring Game will be drastically different from the one we get in the fall. In many Spring Games, defenses aren't allowed to blitz and offensive playcalling is extremely shackled. It doesn't make any sense to attempt to accurately predict how good a team is going to be when we're not seeing the same team. Let's take a recent scenario into account: the 2014 TCU Horned Frogs.
All it takes is one quick Google search of "2014 TCU Spring Football" to show that the main takeaway from their Spring Game was that their offense was awful. They didn't score a touchdown, and were picked off several times before allowing a fumble to get returned for a touchdown. Many of our Frog friends were in complete and total panic mode, and many Red Raider fans saw it as one less obstacle in our way to potentially having a showdown with Baylor for the conference championship. How wrong we were. The TCU offense in 2014 wasn't just good, it was great, and it dropped a whopping 82 points on us when we played in Hell's Half Acre. It's safe to say that they were misjudged off of a spring football performance that was, according to Gary Patterson, partially due to extremely safe playcalling and not having the full offense ready yet.
3. Literally anything can happen between now and Football season.
As much as we would all love the time between spring football and the fall season to be next to nothing, there is a vast amount of time between now and the start of football season. And as we all learned in 2013 with Michael Brewer, literally anything could happen. Brewer seemed like the heir apparent to Doege after he filled in admirably during the 2012 season. However, due to a back injury, it was not to be, and Baker Mayfield/Davis Webb were forced into starting roles early in their careers. Many people had anointed Michael Brewer the next great Texas Tech quarterback in the spring of 2013, and in the spring of 2014 we learned that he was off to quarterback the Virginia Tech Hokies. We have no idea what will happen between now and the start of the season. Players could transfer. They could get hurt working out. Heck, they could even get hurt in fall camps. There could always be something that happens between now and August.
Every year, there are a couple of people that freak out about spring football, whether it's that their team performed well or that their team was literally nothing and might as well not exist. Let's all just take a deep breath, remind ourselves that Spring Football isn't Fall Football, and keep positive. After all, anything could happen.