Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 4/16/12
Aside from building depth and experiencing no injuries, coaches hope to simulate game speed and scenarios as much as possible in spring football games. Yet, its not easy to achieve. For Clemson, however, the Tigers raised the bar on their spring game this past Saturday, which concluded with Chandler Catanzaros 45-yard field goal in double overtime. Getting kickers anything close to a real-game feel in the spring is next to impossible, but Clemson got just that. It was good to put a little pressure on the kickers there and finish it that way, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. The game was kind of indicative of our spring. It has been very competitive. Its been very balanced. What I mean by that is that there is a lot of competitive depth right now. Second mission accomplished. Clemson won the ACC title a year ago but was ransacked in the Orange Bowl by West Virginia, giving up a BCS bowl-record 70 points. But spirits were high all spring. Last year was almost a gift conference title for the Tigers, as they were so young most inside the program pointed to 2012 all along. Well, 2012 is here, and Clemson just concluded spring practice. So who stood out this most this spring? Swinney named junior wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins the spring MVP not just for his seven-reception, 120-yard performance Saturday, but because hes been setting the pace all spring. It felt great being the go-to receiver, Hopkins said. I want to be a guy that can be counted on when my number is called. Hopkins had a terrific in the shadow of Sammy Watkins last fall. Hopkins caught 72 passes for 978 yards and five touchdowns. He had 13 receptions that went for more than 20 yards and his long was 50 yards. Clemsons staff worked hard on getting quarterback Tajh Boyds backups more repetitions. Sophomore Cole Stoudt, the son of former NFL signal caller Clint Stoudt, and freshman Morgan Roberts battled, but nothing concrete was decided, though offensive coordinator said Saturday that Stoudt is in the lead by a whisker. By the way, Watkins, a certain early season Heisman candidate, caught six passes for 66 yards Saturday. Boyd, Clemsons other Heisman candidate, completed 20 of 26 pass attempts for 229 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Tailback Andre Ellington and linebacker Stephone Anthony did not play in the spring game due to injuries. Harris Big In Wake Game Josh Harris was the big star of Wake Forests spring game Saturday. Harris missed more than half of last season with a hamstring injury, so he felt like he had something to prove this spring. The work he put in over 14 previous practices was apparent in the game. Harris ran the ball six times for 40 yards and a touchdown and he caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the low-scoring game. It was more than enough action for him to prove he might be closing in on his freshman form, when he ran for 720 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. He looked like Josh Harris and thats what I like, Wake coach Jim Grobe said. he had two or three inside runs. He wasnt trying to bounce everything to the perimeter. I loved his touchdown run in the red zone. I thought he got north and just powered his way up into the end zone, and if we can get him to do that all the time we know he has a chance to be real special. But today, it looked like he had a little bit more of determination and a little bit of pop and was getting up inside, which I like. I like guys that dont mind running inside. UNC Injury Free North Carolina came out of its spring game suffering no injuries, even though three of its starting offensive linemen sat out the game because if injuries sustained earlier in spring practices. Sophomore tailback Gio Bernard, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards last fall, suffered a gash on his head during his fifth carry of Saturdays spring game. Bernard was on the field for about two minutes before being helped off the field. Photographers down on the field a significant amount of blood was coming because of the wound. Bernard, who finished with 36 yards on five carries, sat out for the rest of the game. New coach Larry Fedora though, brushed off the gash like it was no big deal. Bernard didnt return to action even though Fedora said he would have had it been a real game.
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