The “spring game” in college football isn’t actually a game. It’s one of the 15 practices the NCAA allows schools to have. At best, it’s a scrimmage, and not a particularly representative one, given that the squads are split up. In the other scrimmages teams have, which are typically closed to the public, it’s offense v. defense, with players getting to rep with the first string, not a mish-mash of first- and second-team units. The spring game is the least important of the 15 spring practices.
This applies to all college teams, not just Florida State, which had about as good a spring game experience as could be asked for.
Having covered spring games for a decade now, what I realize is that it’s often the only action fans get to see, so they try to extrapolate a lot more from it than, say, the coaching staff will. The coaching staff will put more emphasis on the other 14 practices and the two closed scrimmages.
If you want to get takeaways from a scrimmage, focus on skills, not stats. And do keep in mind that the matchups on teams often have walk-ons facing off against scholarship players, which creates some very uneven results.
The fact is that the stars of the spring game often don’t do a damn thing come fall.
Here are some recent examples I’ve pulled from prior recaps.
2016: Ryan Green, who led all running backs with 16 rushes for 84 yards and a touchdown
2015: J.J. Cosentino completed 7-of-11 for 177 and a score. Mavin Saunders snagged six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown
2014: Freddie Stevenson looked good carrying the ball, recording 85 yards and a score on 18 carries.
2013: John Franklin III maintained a steady drive. Walk-on David Tyrell burned Lamarcus Joyner for a 58-yard pass to open the game.
Before you go thinking an established player is going to lose his job to someone who had a big spring “game,” consider the countless, yearly examples of spring game stars who never do much of anything.