March 20, 2014
The 2014 season will be Larry Edmondson's sixth at Rice, but his first as the Co-Offensive Coordinator. He shared his thoughts on the goals for this spring as the Owls must replace a number of key cogs on offense.
Goals for Spring: "The big thing is to continue to run the ball as well as we have, but we have to establish ourselves better in the passing game in all phases, be it the quarterback, the receivers, the running backs the offensive line. We did a great job in the running game, but we have to pick it up in the passing game in the spring. While we have been a no-huddle offense, we need to get back to playing fast. I think sometimes we were trying some things and we slowed down. We are going to try and pick up the pace this spring. "
Quarterback: "The players believe in Driphus and he does all the things you want a leader to do, but I have told him that in the end it comes down to performance on the field. He has been in here all the time (since the start of the semester) watching film and doing the things he needs to do to prepare. He has all the intangibles, but you still have to perform. Tyler Stehling is a guy who has all the ability in the world and an unbelievable arm, but it's time for him to step up and contend for the #1 spot. He was someone who really benefited from the bowl practices. He really improved during those extra weeks. Nate German has all the ability you need, but it will come down to how much he can digest during the spring. It was unfortunate that he hurt his foot during the year and could not take advantage of the bowl practice time. Guy Billups probably doesn't have the arm strength or the mobility of the other guys, but he knows what he is doing out there. I've got to find out what Tyler and Nate can do this spring. I have to allow Driphus to get himself established in a role where everyone can depend on him. I know what Guy can do, but I have to get Tyler and Nate the reps to see what we have. It's similar to what I did with Taylor last spring. Once I see Driphus getting comfortable, I will have to steal some spring reps from him to allow me to get a clear picture about the other guys. We have to be set with the order going into fall camp."
Running Back: "With Jowan Davis being out for the spring, we have to guard against any of the running backs taking too heavy a pounding in the spring, but it's going to be great to get Brandon Hamilton back in the rotation. I think the redshirt year was a good thing for him and he handled it in a good way. Darik Dillard is steady as they come and then there is Bob (Luke Turner), who can do it all. If we can, we want to look at him as being that floating H Back type as we did with Turner Petersen. But that's only if we have the numbers to work with. It can change in a hurry and suddenly you look up and you only have one guy.
Wide Receiver: "Jordan Taylor and Dennis Parks return as starters. I've told them that that if they want the ball they have to become THE guys. They need to take it to the next level. Zach Wright could be a diamond in the rough. Since he had missed last spring, I think he came in last fall and was really pressing. Mario Hull has all the talent in the world. We're excited about seeing Parker Smith this spring. Darion Pollard will miss the spring, but it was pretty exciting to see what he can bring to the game with the touches he had against Marshall before he was hurt. Temi Alaka is a guy who I think came in knowing he would redshirt and maybe coasted a little. But there is some real potential there and he seems to be figuring out what it will take to get on the field. We have to figure out who the rest of the rotation will be, but Taylor and Dennis have to be playmakers.
"Finding replacements for Nate Richards and Jon Hodde are obviously keys. The real key is finding who the left tackle will be. Brandon Dawkins has a ton of potential, he just needs to get comfortable. Ian Gray has playing experience that he can build on. Spencer Stanley was able to get some time in at center last year. It will be fun to see those three redshirt freshmen (Peter Godber, Trey Martin and Kenneth Thompson) get a chance to get in there and compete. I know Ronnie wants to look at a couple guys who can flip between roles. We'll also get Matt Simonette back in the fall. He's a center/guard but he also brings so much personality and energy to everything we do. It says a lot about him that he has put in the time to work back from that broken arm. It would have been the easy thing to do, to listen to what the doctors said and say `nah, not gonna happen'. Of course, that's the same attitude that brought him this far.
Tight End: "I am one of those guys who likes having a tight end in the game. I'm not a big 10 personnel guy. It makes the defense think twice when you have that bigger body in the game, no matter if we move him outside or not. We visited with the Duke coaches and then do a lot of nice stuff where they will play the tight end off the ball some but letting him block from there or moving him around. We have some good prospects at tight end. Connor Cella and Robbie Wells can run a little bit, but we need to continue to develop what they can do on the interior. Reid Mitchell got his first playing time last year and Cole Hunt will continue to learn the role after redshirting last year."