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Opponents’ Spring Recaps: Part 1

Most of Notre Dame’s 2013 opponents have already completed spring practices, with a number of spring games having been played this past Saturday. Temple and Michigan State will wrap things up on April 20, and Air Force, which concluded practices March 20, did not play a spring game this season.

Head coach Brady Hoke will rely on quarterback Devin Gardner to lead a new pro-style offense at Michigan in 2013.

Here’s a look at how things shook out elsewhere in part one of our spring game recaps:

New Era In Ann Arbor
Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner completed 11 of 16 passes for 145 yards with one touchdown during five series with the first-team offense in Michigan’s spring game Saturday, where a new pro-style offense was unveiled. They did not keep score in the game, and one of the strange side notes on a snowy day in Ann Arbor was a robot delivering the game ball to officials at midfield before the start of the scrimmage. All Michigan quarterbacks wore orange jerseys provided by Oregon State to avoid wearing red — the color of rival Ohio State.

Gardner, who threw for 1,219 yards and 11 scores in five games last season in relief of injured Denard Robinson, hooked up with true freshman tight end Jake Butt for a 12-yard score on his only TD of the day. He got things started with a 30-yard pass to sophomore Amara Darboh down the right sideline, and hit sophomore tight end Devin Funchess for a 35-yard completion over the middle.

Taco Charlton was one of the freshman standouts, registering a pair of sacks against the reserve offense. Charlton smacked No. 3 QB Alex Swieca despite Swieca's no-contact jersey.

The defensive line, with veteran junior defensive end Frank Clark leading the way, reportedly dominated an offensive line that’s going to need to step up if the Wolverines wish to institute a downhill rushing attack.

Purdue Begins Anew
Junior running back Akeem Hunt scored a 15-yard touchdown on the ground and finished with 134 yards on 19 carries to lead Team Black to a 14-0 win over Team Gold. Senior quarterback Rob Henry (6-of-9 passing for 54 yards) connected with sophomore wideout Shane Mikesky on a touchdown reception. It was first-year head coach Darrell Hazell’s Ross Ade Stadium debut.

Senior tight end Gabe Holmes registered four receptions for 74 yards for Team Black. Defensively, junior cornerback Landau Lang led all players with seven tackles for Team Gold. Senior cornerback Normondo Harris led Team Black with five solo stops.

Team Black's Ryan Russell, a junior defensive end, recorded a sack, and redshirt freshman linebacker Andy James Garcia and sophomore defensive tackle Michael Rouse III both came up with interceptions.

Questions Loom At Oklahoma
Junior Blake Bell, sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight are fighting to replace four-year starting quarterback Landry Jones in Norman. Head coach Bob Stoops has gone on record saying the trio is doing a solid job, but that each of the candidates has made too many big mistakes in scrimmage situations.

The White took down the Red 28-24 in a spring game where the scoring system was changed at the midway point. None of the quarterbacks threw an interception. Bell, believed to be the front-runner, received the most snaps with the first team and threw for two touchdowns. Thompson made more plays with his feet and has good command of the offense. Reports explained Knight is perhaps most ready as a pocket passer.

Oklahoma’s receiving corps took a big hit when Kenny Stills left for the NFL, but several returning players look to pick up the slack, including Jaz Reynolds, Jalen Saunders, Sterling Shepard and Trey Metoyer.

The Sooners lost several defensive linemen from last year's team. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who played in 10 games last season as a reserve, was one player who reportedly stood out.

Tightening Up At Arizona State
Senior tight end Chris Coyle set a school record last year at his position with 57 receptions and he added five touchdown receptions. His 696 receiving yards also paced the Sun Devils. Head coach Todd Graham expects even more in 2013.

Coyle made seven grabs for 82 yards and three scores in ASU’s spring game Saturday, which was scored traditionally. Graham, however, said the defense had the upper hand in the scrimmage despite giving up 46 points to a variety of offensive lineups.

All-American fifth-year senior defensive tackle Will Sutton and senior defensive end Davon Coleman each registered two sacks, while the defense finished with 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Senior defensive back Marlon Pollard notched the only interception of the day, picking off redshirt junior Taylor Kelly.

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