Rice football will have their second starting quarterback of the 2018 season on Saturday against FIU. Evan Marshman will get the call. How is the team responding?
There was a buzz around Rice football practice this week. Starting quarterback Shawn Stankavage suffered an injury against UAB and won’t play against FIU in Week 8. That’s opened the door for redshirt freshman Evan Marshman, who walked on at Rice, to start his first game this weekend.
The young guys and the season vets have all rallied behind Marshman. Senior Austin Walter called him “an easy guy to follow” and a “workaholic”, noting his focus and aggressiveness throughout the week of practice. Offensive coordinator Jerry Mack agreed with those sentiments, saying Marshman “gets guys fired up in the huddle” and “plays with a sense of urgency.”
The change at quarterback has prompted a condensed playbook and a more streamlined plan of attack. Mack and the rest of the offensive coaching staff want to make sure they put their quarterback in the best position to succeed. That’s going to take several other players stepping up on Saturday.
Mack put some of the onus on the Owls’ offensive playmakers, noting that the job for guys like Austin Walter, Aaron Cephus and Austin Trammel is to “make Evan [Marshman] better.” With Emmanuel Esukpa out there will be even more room for Walter to make plays, and true freshman Juma Otoviano is expected to see time as well.
They’ll be supported by a trio of freshman offensive lineman. Who starts the game has not been formally released, but expect to see heavier usage from Jake Syptak, Cole Garcia and Clay Servin. All three saw action against UAB and each will continue to push for more playing time going forward. The offensive line is an area where the Owls have struggled this fall, making fresh legs and new faces a must.
Winning anywhere in conference play on the road is difficult. The Owls will be underdogs once again, but the energy and the intensity of this week of practice indicate this team isn’t stagnating. If they can get off to a strong start, they’ll be ready to push FIU on Saturday.
Most importantly, Marshman says he’ll be ready. “I’m going to fully give myself to the gameplan and the team.” He’s in. The Owls are in. Now it’s time to put it all together on Saturday.
The Owls’ depth chart has taken several hits. These players will not be traveling with the team and are officially out against FIU:
QB Shawn Stankavage
RB Emmanuel Esukpa
TE Will Phillips
WR Brendan Harmon
LB Kebreyun Page
DE Cameron Valentine
CB D’Angelo Ellis
Wide receiver Cam Montgomery, who has yet to play this season, has been ruled out for the year.