March 22, 2014
Heading into their 2014 Spring Football drills, new Rice co-offensive coordinator Larry Edmondson indicated a desire to speed up the tempo of the Owls' offensive attack and in their first scrimmage of the spring, they zipped through 70 plays at a pace that impressed head coach David Bailiff.
"I was amazed how fast we got to 70 plays," Bailiff said. " I just told the team that this is the first time (after a first scrimmage) that I am walking off this field feeling pretty good about the effort about the effort and the passion that they put in. I'm very pleased walking off the field after this first scrimmage"
Bailiff said he was also happy to see that despite the need to find 10 new starters from last fall's Conference USA Champion squad, the scrimmage was devoid of a rash of mistakes and false starts.
"I thought it was a real clean scrimmage, procedurally," he noted. "It was clean from a penalty standpoint. We had a couple extra-curricular penalties, but not a lot of procedure penalties, which was good. We've got to work on tackling. We haven't done a lot of live tackling this spring and you saw that as we got a little fatigued. We had some missed tackles and missed assignments out there."
Fans in attendance barely had a chance to settle in before Tyler Stehling hit Zach Wright on a 62-yard touchdown pass, one of three scores through the air on the day to go along with three scores on the ground. With so many familiar faces from last year's backfield having graduated, Bailiff was happy to see the efforts of their replacements.
"You look at some of those younger quarterbacks and the plays that they made,you're seeing some guys who need to step up are stepping up. Tyler Stehling's first pass was a long touchdown. You could see we were trying to throw some long balls today and that paid some dividends. We wanted to see if we could run the football and I thought we ran it effectively. It's not just our best 11 out there, we're giving a lot of the younger players a lot of reps. They're going to get better with every rep.
Junior Driphus Jackson led all passers, hitting on 6-11 for 103 yards a pair of touchdowns (17 yards to Luke Turner and 25 yards to Robby Wells). Stehling finished 1-3 with his 62-yard scoring strike to Wright, who led all receivers with two catches for 84 yards. Redshirt freshman Nate German was 1-4 for 22 yards.
Sophomore Darik Dillard led all rushers, finishing with 108 yards on 15 carries. He scored one touchdown when he dove in from the one and also wowed fans with a 51-yard scamper. Brandon Hamilton finished with 65 yards on 13 carries and a score. Turner rushed for 21 yards on six carries and added a second touchdown on the ground.
The Owls will be back on the practice field on Monday and Wednesday before holding their second scrimmage next Friday.