Rice football has several options, but no sure-fire answer at the quarterback position entering the 2018 season. Who will get the starting nod?
Sam Glaesmann was named the starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2017 season but lasted only three games before suffering an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. That opened the floodgates for what would become a rotating carousel of passers for the Owls which would continue throughout the remainder of the season. Jackson Tyner and Miklo Smalls both saw extensive playing time, but neither emerged as a bonafide QB1.
Rice played multiple quarterbacks in six of their 12 games. That lack of continuity is not a recipe for success and, understandably, getting the quarterback situation sorted out as quickly as possible will be a top priority for head coach Mike Bloomgren. Here are the options he has to work with in 2018.
Three returning quarterbacks
The path of least resistance would be to roll with last year’s initial starter Sam Glaesmann. He accounted for three touchdowns through the air and another three scores on the ground, making him the only returning passer with at least as many touchdowns (six) as interceptions (six). He led the Owls to their only win of the 2017 season, a 31-14 runaway victory over UTEP on the road.
Glaesmann’s vice is his accuracy. He completed 44.4 percent of his passes last season, only notching double-digit completions once, against UTEP. The running game will remain the Owls’ bread and butter, but whomever earns the starting quarterback job must be able to complete the majority of his passes.
Glaesmann’s initial replacement last season was redshirt sophomore Jackson Tyner. After a slow start he chucked it all over the yard against FIU, Pittsburgh and Army, combing for 488 of his 598 yards of the season in those three contests. Tyner attempted and completed more passes (46) than either of the other two passers, but he also had the most incomplete passes (51) and threw five interceptions.
Accuracy is something that’s hard to fix. Tyner showed the willingness to take risks and hurl the ball down field, but like Glaesmann, he missed his mark more often than he found it. His 13.0 yards per attempt and 13.0 yards per completion were both last among the Rice quarterbacks.
Despite his shortcomings, Tyner is the most veteran option available to coach Bloomgren. The now redshirt junior has as many appearances as both Smalls and Glaesmann combined. Field experience won’t win you a job, but there’s something to be said for having “been there and done that”.
The most versatile option at Bloomgren’s disposal could be returning sophomore Miklo Smalls. Taking over the starting job late in the 2017 season, Smalls finished as the team leader in passing yards (623), touchdown passes (three) and quarterback rating 118.2. No other passer saw the field during the final three games of the season. It seemed clear he had won the trust of the previous staff, but Bloomgren will evaluate the entire group with an open mind.
Following the publishing of this piece Miklo Smalls announced his intention to transfer from Rice to Independence C.C. in Kansas.
Three fresh faces
The only other quarterback returning this season is redshirt sophomore Evan Marshmann. A Houston native, Marshmann walked last season after a productive career at Houston Christian. He showcased extensive mobility in high school, making his upside as a dual threat intriguing. Tyner is the least mobile of the three passers that played last season, whereas Glasemann and Smalls each averaged more than six rushes per game.
Bloomgren brought in one graduate transfer quarterback this offseason, former Vanderbilt backup Shawn Stankavage. The junior attempted one pass, a completion for six yards, during his time with the Commodores. With Kyle Shurmur entrenched as the starter Stankavage decided it was in his best interests to move on to Rice and join a crowded quarterback room that lacks one definitive starter.
True freshman Wiley Green, a 2-star recruit from Prestonwood Christian in Plano, Tx, was the only quarterback who signed with the Owls’ 2018 class. Green turned down offers from Baylor, Arizona and Boise State to play for the Owls. The lack of experience against collegiate competition isn’t ideal, but he did throw 47 touchdowns and eight interceptions during his senior season.