College football spring game standouts, takeaways: USC offense sputters, Notre Dame QB CJ Carr impresses

Spring games take center stage as the month of April trudges on. For many programs, the upcoming NFL Draft only emphasizes how different the 2024 season will look. Transitioning from projected No. 1 pick Caleb Williams was never going to be easy for USC, but Lincoln Riley’s signature position group looked lackluster in their first public action. 

All three quarterbacks who appeared threw at least one interception, while projected starter Miller Moss threw a pair. The headliner was a tipped ball returned for a 100-yard touchdown. 

After the game, Riley clarified that Moss would start for the Trojans if the season started today because of his experience in the program. In the Holiday Bowl against Louisville, Moss threw six touchdown passes and stole the show. He did not look like the same player on Saturday in Las Angeles. 

Granted, USC’s much-maligned defense also looked seriously improved under first-year defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn. The defensive backs were in the right position and seemed to understand the system much more consistently. The Trojans even played without defensive tackle Bear Alexander, who is working through a hamstring injury. 

Of course, if USC’s offense has taken such a step back, the defense has no choice but to improve if the Trojans have any plans of competing for a CFP slot. Here’s how some of the other top programs in the country fared during their spring games on Saturday. 

Arch Manning dazzles

Manning had barely thrown a pass in a Texas uniform coming into the spring game after working as the third-string quarterback in 2023. It only took one pass attempt to get the crowd on its feet. Manning stepped up in the pocket and found receiver DeAndre Moore for a 75-yard touchdown, throwing the ball 50…


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