Football News April 18: 2015 Big for Christian Hackenberg


A veritable smorgasbord of spring games awaits on April 18, the most active Saturday of football since December, and until September. A bevy of sub-plots starring quarterbacks begin to unfold for the college football-watching nation to overanalyze for the remaining offseason.

Among Saturday’s most intriguing quarterback story headlines include competitions, like the murky 5-player race at Alabama. But for a returning starter like Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, the spring game is an opportunity to lay a solid foundation for the fall.

Spring Game Will Give Penn State A Better Idea Where It Stands, Bob Cohn, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Penn State rode a wave of ups and downs in head coach James Franklin’s at the helm, but for talented quarterback Christian Hackenberg, there were more downs.

Compared to Andrew Luck upon his arrival in 2013, Christian Hackenberg flourished under Bill O’Brien but regressed in Franklin’s first season. Hackenberg’s progress into his third season is a key part of the overarching picture that is Penn State adjusting to the Franklin regime.

Tom Bradley Starts Anew at UCLA, Dan Greenspan/Associated Press

UCLA’s defense was under the guidance of one of the least experienced coordinators in the Pac-12 last season, but in replacing Jeff Ulbrich, Jim Mora went the complete opposite direction.

Former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley told the Associated Press he’s still adjusting to Los Angeles traffic, but Bradley is fast finding his niche with the Bruins football team.

As a long-time assistant at Linebacker U., Bradley should feel right at home working with arguably the best linebacker corps in the West. Myles Jack and Deon Hollins are two of the Pac-12’s most talented at the position.

Preparing for Navy’s Triple-Option, Brian Wedkwych/Inside ECU Sports

Saturday’s spring action might feel like an autumn weekend, but there are still more than four months until the 2015 season. Five full months separate East Carolina from its inaugural American Athletic Conference matchup with Navy, but the Pirates might need that much time to prepare for the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense.

East Carolina and Navy might be new conference partners, but the two programs are well acquainted. They’ve played three times since 2010, and Navy’s attack yielded 76 and 56 points in two of those contests.

With electric quarterback Keenan Reynolds back for the Mids, East Carolina’s defense needs all the prep time he can muster to slow Navy.

Georgia Tech Avoids Injury in Spring Game, George Henry/Associated Press

Georgia Tech took advantage of some good fortune in 2014 and parlayed it into one of the season’s surprise runs with an ACC Coastal title, very nearly an ACC championship and a convincing Orange Bowl win over Mississippi State.

Replicating last season’s success means more good fortune for Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets. So far, so good.

Georgia Tech came away from its spring game largely unscathed. Quarterback Justin Thomas, protected by a no-contact policy, said that eliminating some of the physicality “helped focus on the mental side,” per the AP.