Rice football is pulling every able body into action during 2019 spring practice. Injuries and a thinned roster have given all players ample opportunity to shine.
The spring is supposed to be the time when everyone is healthy. Rice has had no such luck. The attrition, combined with an early dose of Texas heat, saw Monday’s practice cut a few minutes short to provide a respite from a busy day for both staff (Rice held their Pro Day on Monday, too) and players.
Dylan Silcox, Myles Adams and Aaron Cephus all wore red no-contact jerseys. Receivers Austin Trammell, August Pitre, Brendan Harmon and Sam Glaesmann all remain out of practice for at least the short term. That left only a handful of able-bodied receivers available for practice.
“Right now there are no reinforcements, you better be ready to play,” said Mike Bloomgren, almost jokingly, but with a twinge of truth. Like last spring, the Owls need more bodies. Fall camp will bring a much-needed inject of fresh legs. For now, everyone is getting plenty of work.
The good and bad on the offensive line
The offensive line remains a mixed bag. The talent level has been increased significantly since this time last year. Beyond that, the guys who are there have more experience and game action. Cole Garcia and Clay Servin have the potential to be special, and expectations remain high for Shea Baker and incoming graduate transfer Nick Leverett.
All that potential is going to take some time to gel. Monday saw bursts of individual success, but the collective product leaves something to be desired. Coach Joe Ashfield said the line is “at the point right now where we have to really become masters of our scheme so we can stop thinking so much about scheme and just get really good at how to do our craft.” In the most simplistic terms, they need less thinking and more doing up front.
Given the numbers crunch and the desire to have flexibility long term, centers Cole Elms and Shea Baker both have seen time at guard this spring. Baker should be considered the starting center at this point, but keeping him fresh at guard is wise considering the incoming arrival of Stanford transfer Brian Chaffin who will play somewhere along the interior of the line.
- While Wiley Green is the leader in the quarterback battle, the staff seems to have confidence in Evan Marshman and Parker Towns. All three have taken strides in their understanding of the offense and have said seeing game action last year was crucial to their development.
- Tight ends figure to play a more prominent role in the offense in 2019. A guy to keep an eye on is Robert French. He blasted Antonio Montero in Oklahoma on Monday, not an easy task. He followed it up with a breakaway 50+ yard touchdown reception later in the afternoon.
- Matthew Sams is another name to know in the secondary. The young corner has had his ups and downs this spring, but his good plays continue to outnumber the bad.
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