Well, here it is. Your last
bastion of toughness in American males football for the next four months. Spring football for a college football fan is like methadone for a heroin addict; it aids with the withdrawal symptoms but just isn't the same.
Still, there are some position groups in upheaval that will allow me to craft some spicy hot takes, and I'll do just that, after giving you the rosters (shouts to Joe Rexrode for compiling them nicely):
Look, the Spring Game draft means almost nothing. The only way to use it for information is as corroboration for other chatter; it is not a place where new narratives should be formed. As such, there should basically never be a Spring Game draft surprise. Either it is confirming something we already had heard about, or it is to be disregarded.
So when Joe Rexrode says something like this:
The OL all went in the "first pick." Brian Allen went first, Jack Conklin right after him, which may be a comment on interior depth vs. OT.— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) April 22, 2015
I just have to roll my eyes. Brian Allen came out in a suit and got a jersey from Dantonio; it was a joke. Could his being chosen first be a comment on offensive lineman depth? Well maybe, I guess. But it could just as easily mean that Brian Allen owns a suit and Jack Conklin does not. Or perhaps Conklin doesn't have the same sense of humor. Any of those three explanations is possible.
Here's a comment that corroborates other evidence:
Some clarity at RB -- Green takes London first, White takes Holmes. But the fact that this is 7th position pick tells you it's close.— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) April 22, 2015
Because of the draft format, where everyone at a position is drafted after the first guy is taken, the assumption is that the first few position groups drafted have the most drop-off from top guys to lower guys. What's funny about this is that the format suggests to me that student-athlete GMs probably didn't do a great job balancing their rosters in a typical draft format, so the format needed to be modified. Which then suggests that there isn't a whole lot of moneyball-style player evaluation happening. And if there is, then it would make sense that the seniors doing the drafting would wait on running backs, since that's a better idea.
But, still, the later position groups drafted should have lots of competition. The problem is that we knew running back was contentious given the "OR" between London and Holmes on the spring depth chart. So this is a situation where this is just corroborating stuff we already knew.
There were some Twitter questions about handicapping the odds:
I gave the Green team the edge in more positional categories above, but White has the advantage on both lines and at Quarterback. Still, White by 6.5 seems excessive; 3.5 sounds about right to me, with Green having a real shot. It seems to me that advantages along the lines count for a little less in the Spring Game, given the assumed lack of cohesion that those guys will have playing with each other. It's tough to jel in three days with guys from different parts of the depth chart.
I can't believe I actually wrote a paragraph analyzing the odds in the Spring Game. I think it is clear I have an alarming lack of life balance.
Stuff You Can Reasonably Watch For
Jake Hartbarger is playing for both sides, but this will be our first glimpse at Mike Sadler's replacement. It'll feel like a fall day anyways, so his performance might be somewhat predictive for next year. More predictive than other positional groups.
Running Backs will of course be interesting, though this is one place where HUGE grains of salt are needed. Because of the aforementioned lack of cohesion among the offensive lines, running the ball could be difficult. What will be more interesting is the split of carries and how each guy is used. How is everyone at pass protection? Will TJ Harrell and Gerald Owens get some reps for the White team despite being defenders as well?
Any Offensive Lineman You Haven't Seen Yet. There are five offensive lineman we've seen a lot of: Conklin, the Allens, Donovan Clark, and Kodi Kieler. Given the penchant for rotating lineman into games over the past few years, depth is necessary. Also, the AMSUOLHG. Always have to watch for the AMSUOLHG.
Cornerback play will be fun to watch, especially the jam ability of guys we haven't seen a ton of just yet. Edmondson, Colquhoun, Copeland, Hicks, and Cox are all in the mix, and I'm not yet confident in any of them.
[Insert Matt Morrissey pun here]
It'll be a cold day, and we won't get to the 50,000 number Dantonio is yearning for. But Hartbarger and London will have big days. Once the game is over, you'll be just excited enough that it'll hurt to remember you have to wait until September for the first game.
White 24 - Green 20