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April 6, 2013

Spring Game, Owls Win

We knew going into Friday night the Owls would "win" their Spring Game pairing a split squad of Blue vs. Gray, and the Blue (Offense) technically won 27-17. But the real winner of the game was the team's depth.

As most of the team's 19 returning starters watched from the sidelines, the program's talented youth got rep after valuable rep. And in the process the Owls took another step towards becoming a perennial bowl and championship team. At the beginning of spring practices weeks ago Coach David Bailiff told me that this was the first spring that he could simply concentrate on football rather than assemble a new staff. He also said he'd never had the luxury to develop his young players rather than search for starters among them.

After this spring he won't be able to say either again. The combination of a veteran staff returning along with a senior team of starters and lettermen really changed the dynamic of Spring Football 2013. The by-product was on display Friday night, and cause for much optimism.

Here's a few highlight capsules:

- Redshirt freshman Darik Dillard caught a 21 yard pass from Driphus Jackson and also carried the ball 10 times. From his first day in the weight room last year through this game Dillard has exceeded expectations with exceptional cuts, tough running, and reliable hands.

- Sophomore Cornerback John Blasingame had a sack and blanketed Receivers all night.

- Starting Right Guard Andrew Reue also saw duty at Left Tackle. His versatility gives the Owls more depth at a position where they've struggled to find it.

- Sophomore Running Back Luke Turner nursed a hamstring pull earlier this spring but showed no signs of it when he took a short pass from Taylor McHargue 42 yards untouched for a touchdown.

- Sophomore Safety Malcolm Hill picked off a Guy Billups pass at the Blue 3 yard line, easily scoring a pick six.

- Redshirt freshman Defensive Tackle Cody Henessee batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

- Redshirt sophomore Austin Laudenschlager was credited with 4 tackles and the former walk-on from McKinney North has also proven to be a big hitter this spring.

- Sophomore Running Back Brandon Hamilton led all rushers with 44 yards on 7 carries.

- Redshirt freshmen Cornerbacks Darrion Pollard and Michael Warren both had very good spring practices. Pollard is also a candidate to return punts. While returns weren't allowed Friday night he was solid in ball security.

- Redshirt freshmen Offensive Linemen Brandon Dawkins, Connor Patterson, and Spencer Stanley got tons of reps this spring. Barring developments each will have the opportunity to continue their development this fall seeing only spot duty.


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