"From an athleticism standpoint, Austen would test higher, but there is something about a game that Jerome just slithers through there and Jerome has had a very good spring," coach Paul Rhoads said. "Austen Arnaud is our starting quarterback and Jerome Tiller is competing."
"That is the number one thing that you want on your football team is competition because it doesn't allow the other guy to take his foot off the gas pedal," Rhoads said.
The new offense scheme of former Rice offensive coordinator Tom Herman featured a variation of the "Wildcat" formation with the running back lined up at quarterback and many multiple receiver looks.
"I think some of our stuff is unique and it will have to be," Rhoads said. "Defensively it is hard to have enough people in gaps and account for that." The offense also had a much noticeably higher tempo to it and tight end Collin Franklin said the offense has been focused not wearing down during that.
"It's a lot of stuff to know and you have to pick it up quick," Franklin said. "We are trying to get up there as fast as we can and catch the defense off guard." One of three running backs expected to see playing time is Jeremiah Schwartz and he also scored a touchdown in the game. Rhoads said each back brings their own way of doing things. "We have three guys that can carry the football and we have three contrasting styles in carrying the football," Rhoads said. "There is not necessarily a certain style that fits our offense."
The only real blemish offensively may have been turnovers. Arnaud threw two interceptions and Tiller threw one. "One of the first things we talked about with this football team is playing smart and the general has got to be smart and take care of the football," Rhoads said. "On the back of our practice jerseys it says, ‘protect the ball,' and if we are going to get this thing turned around we have to win the turnover margin."
Arnaud said the offense can only get better as it becomes more experienced in the offense. "This is only our second month learning this offense and we are going to get better," Arnaud said. "We are proud of what we did and we learned this offense pretty quick but we just have to get it down."