Comparing the Starters
Rice - Chase Clement, 6-1 215 Senior, 3L
SMU - Bo Levi Mitchell, 6-1 185 Freshman
It's hard to make a comparison of the two starting Quarterbacks for Friday's game because Clement has done so much, while Mitchell has done well, nothing at all. That's not a knock on the Katy freshman though. And to say he hasn't done anything isn't entirely true - he did lead the Katy Tigers to a State Championship last year. He just hasn't taken a single snap in a college game yet. Mitchell was named the starter by new SMU June Jones last week, ending speculation that he was the front-runner ahead of a group of others - including the starter of a year ago Justin Willis. He's gotten a ton of hype in the Dallas area - including Jones' comparing his arm strength to former NFL QB Warren Moon. Mitchell has a quick release and a good handle on the offense obviously.
Chase Clement enters his final season with several preseason All-C-USA mentions and even some talk of an NFL future. He's much more comfortable in the Rice Offense after settling in at the end of last season, and has had some great practices since. The Owls and Clement have installed "the other half" of their playbook for the 2008 season. Edge to Rice.
Comparing the Depth
Edge: Slight Edge to Rice
The depth behind the starters for both teams is very nearly a "push". Rice has John Thomas Shepherd as it's #2 man. He's been tested in some big road games at Rice, and has started a few games as well. He is throwing the ball better than he ever has and looks like a solid and capable backup to Chase Clement. Sophomore James "Thor" Casey lines up all over the Rice backfield, including QB. He's capable of making a lot of things happen when he has the ball and has been compared to Florida's Tim Tebow in terms of his running ability. Also at Rice OC Tom Herman's disposal is talented Freshman Ryan Lewis from Baton Rouge. He's impressed everyone this August with his poise and arm strength, but will likely redshirt unless needed.
SMU's #2 backup is another true freshman, Braden Smith. Like Mitchell, Smith had a great high school career. He looked impressive in the THSCA All Star Game last month too. Behind him is last year's starting QB Justin Willis, who was suspended from the team in the Spring, but was allowed to come back. Willis has always been an erratic passer - which is a major problem in June Jones' offense. His accuracy problems have him struggling for playing time right now. Yet another freshman, Logan Turner, could very easily be the second player off the bench though Smith is listed #2 on some depth charts. He had a prolific passing career at Springtown and redshirted last year. So, because the Ponies have two Freshmen on the depth chart behind Mitchell and another QB who has struggled to execute June Jones' system effectively, the slight edge in depth goes to Rice.
Tomorrow we look at Running Backs and Receivers.