It’s no secret the defense has had the upper hand as Rice football nears the end of spring practices. The entire unit shined in the final scrimmage.
The final scrimmage prior to the Spring Game was dominated by the defense. The front seven looked magnificent, with impressive plays from just about every member up front. Blaze Alldredge and Antonio Moreno flew to the ball. Dylan James and Garrett Grammer made some big plays, too. The defensive line as a whole enforced their will on the offensive unit, finding pressure and forcing uncomfortable pockets for the quarterbacks all morning.
Wiley Green still looked sharp, even with the pressure surrounding him. He delivered some lasers into tight coverage and was the only passer who was able to regularly make plays down the field. When things broke down, he demonstrated the ability to make plays with his legs, keeping the defense honest as much as possible.
Part of the reason for his forced mobility was exceptional play from the Rice secondary. Long balls over the head of safeties and corners plagued this unit in the fall but that hasn’t been a problem this spring. Green has a strong arm and isn’t afraid to push the ball downfield, but even his better throws have to be perfect given how tight the secondary has played.
One of the brightest spots from the defensive backfield has been the emergence of corner Andrew Bird. He broke into the starting lineup at the tail end of the fall and has kept his spot throughout the spring. “I think coming into this spring I had more confidence in myself, more confidence in my teammates,” Bird said following the scrimmage. That confidence has translated into a more cohesive unit which should be much improved this fall.
New blood gives life to the Rice backfield
The offensive success has been more sporadic, but there have still been flashes on that side of the ball worth getting excited about. A reshaped running back corps might be the most intriguing storyline of the spring. Aston Walter is the familiar face, but it’s the new players at the position who are making the most noise.
After a strong spring, converted linebacker Ari Broussard has a legitimate case to be the starting running back when Rice opens the season at Army. Broussard’s skillset is markedly different than that of his peers.
A former running back in high school, Broussard described himself as a “running-people-over type” back who prefers to run north and south. He’s not as shifty as guys like Walter, Cam Montgomery and Juma Otoviano, but perhaps that’s what makes him a perfect fit for Bloomgren’s ground-and-pound attack.
- Blaze Alldredge lept over the line during goal line drills. He’s intense and extremely athletic and he’s going to make some big plays this fall.
- The defense won the scrimmage and the third down portion of practice. The offense bounced back, winning the goal line drills.
- Pending the arrival of the two additional grad transfers, the offensive line will be some combination of Clay Servin at left tackle, Uzoma Osuji at right tackle, Shea Baker at center and Cole Garcia and Nick Leverett at the guard spots.
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