Football ends spring practice with high hopes
Over the course of the past month, the Rice Owls took to the gridiron for their annual spring practices, taking an opportunity to hit the field to find out what they have coming into the next season. Capping two weeks of spring practices, the Owls were excited to play three scrimmages, and on March 30, the team had its annual Blue and Gray game, showcasing the offense against the defense.
The teams both earned points based on big plays: sacks, touchdowns, three and outs, and long passes. While the scoring was a little uneven, the football was the same as both teams looked to prove themselves heading into summer practice.
The offense had a big game, ultimately winning the game 57-22. The star was actually a kicker, as redshirt sophomore Chris Boswell hit from 56 and 48 yards and had some nice punts, looking to replace All-American senior Kyle Martens.
Junior Charles Ross, looking to have another big season, led the offense with 97 yards on only six touches. Sophomore quarterbackTaylor McHargue actually had the second most rushing yards on the team, showing that he is a threat both on the ground and in the air.
Freshman Lovett Gibson, a player who saw little time on offense this past season, led the team in total receiving yards, racking up 104 yards on three impressive catches and catching the one passing touchdown of the game from McHargue. However, the returning receiving core had a lot of dropped passes.
McHargue, the favorite heading into next season to start at quarterback, looked good in his spring appearance, going 10-18 for 117 yards. Freshman Driphus Jackson, who is expected to challenge McHargue for the passing position, went 8-17 for 117 yards - setting up for an exciting summer and the possibility of another quarterback-by-committee situation.
Junior running back Sam McGuffie, who is looking to rebound after a disappointing season last year, is excited about the team's progress this spring.
"It just felt good to be out there and playing again," McGuffie said. "Coach had a lot of the younger guys play to see what they could do, and they all looked good. I'm excited about the season coming up. I think it'll be a good one for us."
The defense, which struggled through much of last season, let the offense rack up the yards but had a few promising flashes of potential. Redshirt sophomore Paul Porras, a relatively unknown safety, had seven tackles in the game, most of them in the open field. If the Owls are to succeed this season, the defense has to hold opposing offenses to fewer yards and has to start forcing some takeaways.
At the end of their spring practice, the Owls held their end-of-the-year banquet, awarding the season's best efforts. Senior running back Tyler Smith won the George Martin Award as the MVP of the Owls.
The Owls wrapped up their spring practices on Monday and Wednesday, with solid efforts on both days. For a team that has had so little success over the last few years, 2012 could be the year some of the pieces come together and the team starts winning. The Owls may even return to a bowl for the first time since their Texas Bowl win in 2009.
The Owls moved their opener against UCLA to Thursday, Aug. 30, to accommodate TV requests. The time of the game has not yet been announced.
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