If you're in college football withdrawal, and team-produced Twitter videos of weightlifting or mat drills just aren't cutting it, fear not. Spring football practice around much of the country is here, or will be in the near future.
While teams claim the 2018 season started as soon as they reconvened after winter break, spring practices give fans the first glimpse of what's to come in the fall. After one of the wildest coaching cycles in recent years, plus the murkiness surrounding quarterbacks at many high-profile programs, spring ball this year should be anything but boring.
Yes, we're talking 'bout practice, but there's so much more going on from Athens to Los Angeles, and many points in between.
As teams begin the 15 allotted practices, here are 15 storylines to track:
Quarterback questions for Alabama and Georgia
This could be a first for college football: Two young quarterbacks who started the national championship game will have to scramble to keep their jobs. At Alabama, most have already awarded the QB1 title to Tua Tagovailoa, the hero of the Tide's most recent national title. Although Jalen Hurts is a two-year starter who doesn't commit turnovers and can gash defenses, he will need a strong spring to hold off Tagovailoa, a more gifted passer who could help Alabama's talented young receivers. Jake Fromm ranked ninth nationally in pass efficiency as a redshirt freshman as Georgia won the SEC in 2017, but he'll be pushed by Justin Fields, the nation's top recruit and one of the most decorated quarterback prospects in recent years. Fields enrolled in January and will have every opportunity to wow the coaches this spring.
Chipping away in Westwood
In the past year, no FBS program has been more proactive in trying to improve its outlook than UCLA. After completing a long-overdue on-campus facility last summer, UCLA landed the top coaching prize of the cycle in Chip Kelly, who returns to the college game and a conference, the Pac-12, that he dominated at Oregon. He begins his first spring with the Bruins trying to mold mostly inherited players into a powerful offensive unit. UCLA couldn't run the ball last season. It needs upgrades along the offensive line. Heralded quarterback recruit Dorian Thompson-Robinson, No. 34 in the ESPN 300, doesn't arrive until the summer, so it will be interesting to see how much Kelly gets done this spring.
Michigan's offensive reset
Jim Harbaugh's offense was brutal to watch at the end of the 2017 season. The offseason brought change to the offensive coaching staff, as Michigan hired former Florida coach Jim McElwain and respected offensive line coach Ed Warinner, while parting ways with offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, a longtime Harbaugh aide. How the playcalling process evolves will be fascinating. McElwain is capable but Michigan still has passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton. Warinner, who has coached lines at Ohio State and Notre Dame, should help an underachieving group. The biggest question comes at quarterback, where Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson begins practicing with the hope of becoming eligible for the season.
Can LSU find a quarterback?
The most significant assistant coaching move on the Bayou wasn't the one that gave defensive coordinator Dave Aranda $10 million in guaranteed salary. While Aranda's future at LSU is secure, head coach Ed Orgeron's might not be if he can't solve the program's lingering quarterback problem. Orgeron's decision to part ways with offensive coordinator Matt Canada and elevate Steve Ensminger to the position likely will make or break his Tigers' tenure. Ensminger seems like the guy Orgeron wanted all along after helping LSU's offense down the stretch in 2016. Sophomore Myles Brennan and redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse are the top QB candidates along with Justin McMillan. Recent history isn't on LSU's side but if Ensminger can get this right, the Tigers will be a real threat in the SEC West.
Herm Edwards storms the practice field
As expected, the man who brought "You play to win the game!" into the football lexicon made headlines with his opening news conference. And now Edwards figures to be a big draw for Sun Devils fans, who are able to watch all 15 spring workouts beginning March 13. In hiring Edwards, Arizona State wanted to lean on the assistant coaches to maintain continuity, but it's hard not to see the head coach being very involved on the practice field. This has been a unique transition to say the least, and spring ball should provide a glimpse into where things are headed for the Edwards-led Sun Devils.
Irish aiming for a superior encore
Notre Dame has been here before. It won 12 games in 2012, only to slip to 9-3 the following year (wins from both seasons since have been vacated). The Irish went 10-3 in 2015, before tumbling to 4-8 in 2016. After another 10-win season last fall, Notre Dame wants to keep the pedal down. A defense that returns 10 starters should propel the team, but there are areas to address this spring -- primarily a passing game that eclipsed 200 yards only four times last year and loses the only two players who recorded more than two touchdown catches. Notre Dame needs quarterback Brandon Wimbush to improve. It needs more options at receiver. The offensive line also must replace two likely first-round draft picks, guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Mike McGlinchey. ESPN's preseason FPI loves this team -- Notre Dame is No. 5 -- but there are clear concerns.
Taggart Time in Tally
Florida State had two football coaches between 1976 and 2017, so any new Seminoles boss will generate added attention in his first spring session. Willie Taggart returns to his home state after only one year at Oregon. Taggart is a sunnier personality than predecessor Jimbo Fisher, but he has some immediate business this spring. Priorities including installing his offense -- quarterback Deondre Francois (knee) will be limited this spring -- building wide receiver depth and improving a defense that significantly underachieved at the end of the Fisher era. As Miami and Virginia Tech rise, Florida State can't fall too far behind Clemson in the ACC pecking order.
New leading men for Sooners, Cowboys
Since 2015, Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph have been the faces of college football in the state of Oklahoma. Both set records and won awards, including the Heisman Trophy (Mayfield) and Unitas Golden Arm Award (Rudolph) in 2017. But both quarterbacks are gone, adding intrigue to spring practice at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Kyler Murray is the favorite to succeed Mayfield with the Sooners but must beat out Austin Kendall. Oklahoma State's competition seems wide open as Dru Brown, a graduate transfer from Hawaii, joins a group that includes Taylor Cornelius and Keondre Wudtee. Spencer Sanders, ESPN's No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class, arrives this summer in Stillwater.
Husker homecoming for Frost
Every new coach begins his first spring feeling a mixture of pressure and excitement, but none will enter a more frenzied environment than Scott Frost at Nebraska. The T-shirts have been made and the spring game sold out in just more than 24 hours, as Huskers fans welcome back the former national championship-winning quarterback. Frost experienced success as an assistant at Oregon and as a head coach at UCF, and he understands what it takes to break through at Nebraska. How much progress he makes in his first spring, and how he handles the constant spotlight, will be fascinating.
Clemson's Power Rangers are back
Like several national title contenders, Clemson will have a quarterback competition this spring as incumbent Kelly Bryant tries to ward off Hunter Johnson and incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence, the nation's No. 2 recruit. But an equally bigger story for the Tigers is a defensive line that somehow returns intact. The same dudes who dressed up as Power Rangers for Halloween 2016 are still there, despite NFL interest, and form one of the more talented and accomplished defensive lines in college football history. Clemson will need quarterback production, but it is pinning its national title hopes on the broad shoulders of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and the other defensive linemen.
The Jimbo era begins at A&M
Jimbo Fisher left a Florida State program with a championship track record (one he added to in 2013) for one lacking titles but not resources. Fisher came to Texas A&M believing he has everything to succeed in the rough-and-tumble SEC West. Whether he can win immediately remains to be seen, but he begins his first spring practice with the Aggies on March 19. Fisher is a quarterback guy, and his work with Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond this spring, while installing the new offense, will be closely watched. Texas A&M also must upgrade its defense, now under the direction of Mike Elko, who dramatically upgraded Notre Dame's D in 2017.
Buckeyes, Trojans wanting more
Ohio State and USC both won conference titles in 2017, but neither seemed overly satisfied by a season that didn't culminate in the College Football Playoff. Both have lost accomplished quarterbacks in J.T. Barrett and Sam Darnold, although Ohio State seems to have a more stable succession plan with Dwayne Haskins. USC could be turning to its own J.T. at quarterback -- incoming freshman J.T. Daniels, who reclassified to graduate high school a year early and enroll at USC. Offensive line is a major priority for coach Clay Helton this spring, while Ohio State is seeking a No. 1 cornerback to replace Denzel Ward.
Self-anointed champs reset with new coach
The national championship party is over in Orlando, as UCF finally turns the page toward the 2018 season. Josh Heupel might have been a surprise coaching hire, but UCF's reasoning shouldn't be surprising. The school picked Heupel because his offense should easily translate to the Knights, who return dynamic quarterback McKenzie Milton (just a sophomore), running back Adrian Killins Jr. and others. Coaching transitions can disrupt even the most successful of teams, and it's up to Heupel to ensure this one goes as smoothly as possible, beginning this spring.
Seeking offense in Gator Country
Florida is opening its first two spring practices to the public on March 16 and 17. There's little doubt where most of the eyeballs will be focused. After shielding their eyes from the Gators' offense for most of the Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras, Florida fans want to be entertained again. It's Dan Mullen's job to make Florida's offense fun again. He will do so this spring mostly with inherited personnel, but Mullen has produced exciting offenses everywhere he has been -- including his time as Florida's offensive coordinator. The Gators' offense should have a different look beginning this spring.
Herman begins Year 2 at Texas
The Big 12 feels wide open in 2018. Whether Texas can actually become a factor in Year 2 depends in part on how this spring goes. Coaches say the talent is there and that coordinator Todd Orlando's positive impact on the defense should continue despite losing several standouts. The big deficiency, coaches say, is the quarterback position, which happens to be coach Tom Herman's specialty. Sophomore Sam Ehlinger seems like the guy to beat, but he must improve his decision-making and hold off Shane Buechele. Texas needs to emerge from the spring session feeling good about the most important position on the field.