HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It was just a spring game and we knew that the coaching staff was not going to tip their hand too much. However, what we saw was spring-time progress to the eyes of the coaches, primarily Rice Head Football Coach David Bailiff.
The Blue-Grey game saw the Blue outscore the Grey, 57-22. While that is a one-sided score, keep in mind that it is the same team we’re talking here. It was progress that pleased Bailiff.
“I really liked it. First off, it was very clean from a penalty stand point. I thought it was great effort.” “You know we got some new faces offensively. (I) was pleased with some of the big plays.”
One of those big plays was a 53-yard catch and run by 6’2” freshman wide receiver Lovett Gibson from freshman QB Guy Billups from Oxford, Mississippi. Freshman Quarterback Driphus Jackson delivered a 45-yard spiral to redshirt freshman WR Christian Fletcher.
Add to that redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor McHargue finishing the night 10-of-19 for 117 yards and an interception and all considered Friday night a body of quality work. It’s easy to recognize the growth in McHargue’s game.
INITIAL OFFENSIVE EVALUATIONS
The coaching staff obviously doesn’t want to see the interceptions. However, they are part of the game. Take that one mistake away and McHargue was still seemingly happy with his Friday night showing.
“I felt like aside from one bad throw early, I felt like we protected the ball pretty well. We scored the majority of the time I was in. So, I was pleased with that.”
Bailiff sees progress in a big way being made by his quarterbacks.
“(I) was pleased with Taylor McHargue overall. Sometimes you look at the quarterback and think it was his fault where it really wasn’t. Maybe it was the wrong route. But, I was really pleased with Taylor, Driphus (Jackson). He gets better every time he steps on the field.”
Jackson finished with 117 yards and a score on 7-of-18 passing and his running skills are tremendous.
Those quarterbacks were able to perform thanks to a somewhat new offensive line. There were several different combinations on the field Friday night.
“It was good,” says McHargue. The whole spring has been good. I’ve been really pleased with our offensive line. We were kind of wondering if I was going to be with five guys that either had no experience or not much at all. They’ve done a really good job. We’ve been really pleased with them.”
“The young offensive line is just big and athletic,” says Bailiff. “Thought we had some big play receivers out there with what Lovett did and Jordan Taylor when they get balls in their hand. They can do some special things.”
RUN GAME WAS SPECIAL
Redshirt sophomore running back Turner Petersen showed flashes. But junior RB Charles Ross flourished finishing the game with 97 yards on 6 carries.
“It’s been a while since I ran the ball you know,” said Ross. “I missed half of last season. I’ve been ready to come out every since then. The coaches let me get healthy and I feel good – the best I’ve felt since I’ve been here.”
Bailiff certainly took notice of well Ross played on Friday night. But, it seems as though Ross’ good play has been a trend.
“Charles has had a fabulous spring,” said Bailiff. “He’s healthy. I think that showed tonight. If you don’t wrap him up, he’s hard to bring down. He’s 238 weighing in, I think, and he’s had a great spring too.”
Ross says he wants to decrease his weight to a more comfortable 225 pounds by the time the season starts.
Paul Porras had a good night with 7 tackles. Nick Elder & Michael Kutzler also got in on the action with 4 tackles and a sack per.
The defense showed glimpses of just how good they can be by denying several runs to the edges.