Spring Game 2010: Nothing To See Here

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As promised by Rice OC David Beaty late Thursday afternoon, the Owls kept it close to the vest on Saturday. With so many random observers watching at HRS, including what looked to be a pair of Green-&-Gold clad Baylor fans near the 15-yard-line on the far side of the field, chances were slim that the Owls would reveal much of their playbook. Most of the formation diversity from earlier practices this spring was absent, primarily as a security measure. Additionally, the staff hasn't completed installation of the offense. There is more to come.

There were a few developments of interest. First, it was good to see RS Fr. QB Taylor McHargue take full advantage of his first opportunity to perform before the (ahem) masses. McHargue didn't just manage the offense, he excelled in spots, showcasing pass-run skills reminiscent of a certain quality control. The rushing total (10 carries for 25 yards) would have been more impressive were it not for a sack and a couple of fumbles charged to McHargue, and the passing numbers (8-for-11, 126 yards, 3 TDs) reflected a quarterback firmly in control.

So. Taylor Cook (12-for-18, 111 yards, TD) looked more than capable, but Saturday felt like a coming-out party for McHargue, whose performance confirmed what many suspected: this position battle (including Jr. Nick Fanuzzi) might not be settled by the middle of next week.

Some of what unfolded wasn't surprising in the least. The offensive line struggled to create sufficient holes for So. RB Sam McGuffie and RS Fr. RB Turner Petersen, but Jr. RB Tyler Smith ran with purpose through the muck. So. TE Vance McDonald is quite skilled, and it looks as though Beaty recognizes that fact and will utilize VMcD accordingly. So. WR Derek Clark delivered a 65-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, but the receivers were mostly nondescript. While McGuffie was bottled up on the ground (7 carries for 10 yards), he got his with a jaw-dropping 63-yard reception. He will be a threat out of the backfield and as a decoy.

Results were equally mixed defensively where the Owls were without Jr. Travis Bradshaw and Jr. Joseph Leary in the secondary, and Sr. DE Scott Solomon and So DE Cody Bauer up front. That didn't prevent a few holdovers from making big plays, notably RS Fr. DB Tolu Akinwumi, whose two TFLs were negated somewhat by his mistakes in alignment. So. DE Jared Williams (2.5 tackles, fumble recovery) provided a spark while Sr. LB Justin Hill (3.5 tackles, sack) continues to develop into the force the defense needs. Veterans Xavier Webb (5 tackles, PBU) and Chris Jammer (4 tackles) were solid in the secondary, sparking hope that maybe, just maybe, the Owls might establish some quality depth once Bradshaw and Leary return.

Oh, and that 46-yard field goal by RS Fr. Chris Boswell should assuage any concerns over the kicking game for the next few seasons. Boswell has quite the leg on him.  

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Hey MK, can you give an injury report after the spring game? What was the cause of the injuries?

Riceowl73: I wouldn't fret over any of the injuries because everyone should be back by the start of preseason camp. Even the 'major' injuries - Janisch (ankle) and Brackens (shoulder) - will be four months worst-case scenario. Beyond the half-dozen guys who opened the spring unavailable, the others went down due to dings (Fanuzzi, Leary, Petersen) that are of no serious concern. - MK

Thanks for the tweets, MK. Made it possible to follow the action while camping in the wilderness.

With our OL still struggling, I think it's increasingly clear who is best suited to running this offense. Also great to see Clark perform again, and the accomplishments of Hill, J-Williams, and Akinwumi were more than welcome.

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