Two weeks ago, Chase Clement played his first football game since leading Rice to a win in the Texas Bowl when he took the field in the second half for the Las Vegas Locos against Sacramento (featuring his former teammate Andrew Sendejo). Clement threw for over 100 yards and one touchdown and ran for two more in the second half, and in the process apparently won the starting nod when Las Vegas plays in the second UFL Championship Game at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium on November 27. He will start the Locos final regular season game on Saturday afternoon in Harford, CT. The R Blog had a chance to catch up with Chase for a few comments as he prepared to make his first professional start.
This time last year, you were pursuing post-football options. How did it feel to be back on the field again?
It felt incredible to be on the field again. It's amazing thinking back to a year ago wondering if I would ever have a chance and now I'm out there playing.
When did you find out that you were going to get some playing time?
Coach (Jim) Fassel had said early in the week that because we had clinched the a berth in the championship, he wanted to get some different guys in there. It wasn't until game time that he said I would be playing the entire second half.
I know in the NFL the first team quarterback gets almost all the snaps in practice. Given the length of time it had been since you last played at game speed, how hard was it to get prepared and how long did it take for the rust to come off?
During practice, the starter gets all the reps for the game. Since they knew they were playing me, they gave me half the reps to have the game plan down. It took a few plays to get back into it but I was able to settle down after my first pass.
Was there ever a doubt in your mind that you could compete when you had the chance?
That's all I ever wanted was a chance to show what I can do because practice cuts away half of what my game is. The only thing I had a little concern about was how much success I would have scrambling and using my feet because of how fast guys at this level are.
What has it been like to play for Coach Fassel?
Coach Fassel has taught me a lot about football. Obviously, he is going to have a wealth of knowledge and it has been good to ask him question after question.
What would you want Rice fans to know about the UFL?
In my opinion, the NFL needs the UFL. There are more good players out there than there are roster spots so it's a chance for guys like myself who aren't the typical 6'5 qb and give me a chance to compete against guys that have either been in camps or have played in the NFL for a number of years.
So you and Andrew Sendejo are now 1-1 against each other. The announcers mentioned that he was looking forward to getting a chance to tackle you for real in a game, since you were off limits in practices at Rice. Did you have the chance to "meet up" in the game?
I had two, one through the air and one on the ground. On the throw, he was man to man on our tight end and I was throwing a corner route to him, which was going to be a touchdown, but a defensive lineman batted it down. The run was on a scramble at the goalline. He was playing man on our wide receiver and had his back turned as I was running toward him. He turned around but it was too late.
On the same weekend, one of your old targets, James Casey had a career-day for the Texans, while Jarett Dillard was back in town on the Jaguars bye week. How often do you keep in touch?
We all text back and forth all the time. We laugh about different things that happened at Rice. Also, I was pumped for James to get some action and to finally get the ball thrown his way. I always try to keep up with how they are doing on the field.