Spring Game Roundup: Leah Still Stars at Temple

Leah Still Touchdown
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In the last full Saturday of college football until September, the undisputed star was Leah Still.

Leah, daughter of former Penn State and current Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still, became a national inspiration last year as Devon kept the nation apprised of her fight through social media. Saturday, she was an inspiration to the Temple Owls, scoring a touchdown in their spring game.

A Patriot-News feature from last July details Leah Still’s arduous process of fighting her cancer:

Leah’s health is dictated by rounds of chemotherapy, daily shots to boost her immune system, stem cell harvesting, looming surgery, radiation and more chemotherapy. A tumor in Leah’s abdomen has spread to her hip and bone marrow, making surgery to remove the tumor and treatments to stop the spread of the disease the next course of action. Her stem cells will be harvested, so once they are strong enough they can be taken out and frozen in anticipation of a stem cell transfer.

Certainly puts perspective on what it means to overcome adversity, and Leah Still has done so repeatedly with courage and a smile.

As for the Temple spring game, Saturday moved the nation’s most experienced starting roster one game closer to a possible breakout 2015.

Head coach Matt Rhule told Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer this year’s team should be “absolutely devastated” if it fails to make a bowl game. Realistically, the Owls should compete to win the American Athletic Conference’s East division.

Brandon Walker Shines in the Arkansas Spring Game

Mike Herndon, AL.com

With the dynamic one-two running back combination of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins sitting out Arkansas’ spring game, quarterback Brandon Allen was giving his opportunity to shine.

Allen’s highlights included a 65-yard touchdown connection with Keon Hatcher, as well as the below completion:

While spring-game performances have to be evaluated with a certain skepticism, it is worth noting Brandon Allen was significantly more impressive Saturday than in the Razorbacks’ spring outing a year ago.

Past Bret Bielema-coached teams have flourished with stout defense — which Arkansas has — and steady if unspectacular quarterback play to complement a multifaceted run game. Think 2010 Wisconsin.

But when Bielema’s formula of stingy defense and power rushing combines with great quarterback play — like in 2011 — the result is explosive.

Josh Rosen Makes Strong Debut at UCLA

Dan Greenspan, Associated Press

Five-star prospect and true freshman Josh Rosen may have taken another step toward succeeding Brett Hundley as UCLA’s starting quarterback. Rosen went 13-of-17 in the Bruins’ spring game, and earned lofty praise from head coach Jim Mora.

Mora told the Associated Press:

“He is one of those kids that the game comes to more easily than some. He understands concepts. Certain performers go out on the field and things kind of slow down for them and they see things better or more quickly than others, and I think he is one of those guys.”

Adjusting to the nuances of captaining a collegiate offense is one of the greater hills a newcomer has to climb, and is one reason that I personally believed Rosen was destined for a redshirt in 2015. However, all buzz about his play through 15 workouts is positive, and UCLA’s spring game has done nothing to quell anticipation for Rosen playing immediately.

Just don’t expect an answer from Mora any time before Week 1 and

Defense Reigns Supreme in Utah Spring Game

Matthew Piper, The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah football has made its bones on outstanding defensive play for as long as Kyle Whittingham’s been head coach, but losing promising coordinator Kalani Sitake to Gary Andersen (another former Ute assistant) and Oregon State may have cast some doubt over Utah’s 2015 defense.

Whittingham made a surprising hire, adding 71-year-old John Pease — essentially, the polar opposite of the young up-and-comer Sitake. However, if Saturday is any indication, the results for the Utes should remain the same.

Utah’s defense held its offense without a touchdown, a decided positive indication of where it is under a new coordinator, but a worrisome barometer for an offense that, at times, was stagnant in 2014.