The biggest item on the spring agenda is moving away from the Mike Sanford spread to a more traditional pro-style offense under new head coach Bobby Hauk. Hauk came from the FCS ranks where he compiled an overall record of 80-17, including leading the Grizzlies to three national championship games and was the all time. Not too bad, but now he has the chore of turning around a program that has been terrible and have not been to a bowl game since their 2000 win over Arkansas in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Rebels do have some talent on offense with Omar Clayton who has been the starter the past two years, and fans are waiting for him to fulfill his potential. Clayton is more of an athletic quarterback and did to well in the spread, but he was too inconsistent. With a new coach in town backup Mike Clausen who is a similar player to Clayton, and redshirt freshman Caleb Herring who has possibly the best arm of the group will get a shot at the starting job. The offense will have more snaps from under center and that is something Clayton will need to get accustomed to if he wants to keep the starting job.
The receiving corp lost All-American Ryan Wolfe, but they do have touchdown machine Phillip Payne who could be the teams number one and really shine in this offense. Redshirt freshman Bradley Randle who will play either running back or wide receiver as a Reggie Bush style player. He is 5-8 at 190 pounds and will be used in the screen game and outside running plays. The offense also returns three starters from the line.
The offense should be ok with eight total starter returning, but it is their defense that needs help. They were 115th in total defense in 2009, 104th in 2008, and were 62nd in 2007. So, in other words the defense needs some work. The defense can not get any worse with eight returning starters, but look for Hauk to make this spring an open audition for every defensive spot. The only bright spot looks to be B.J. Bell who only played a handful of games at defensive end before injuring his shoulder. Bell is a JUCO transfer who has a very good pass rush and the hope is that it is still there after missing more then half of the 2009 season.
The spring game is April 17th.
Coach: Bobby Hauck
Last season: 5-7 overall, 3-5 in the Mountain West
Spring dates: March 15-April 17
Offense (8): QB Omar Clayton, C John Gianninoto, G Jason Heath, WR Michael Johnson, T Evan Marchal, T Matt Murphy, WR Phillip Payne, RB Channing Trotter.
Defense (8): T Isaako Aaitui, SS Alex De Giacomo, FS Travis Dixon, LB Starr Fuimaono, LB Ronnie Paulo, CB Quinton Pointer, CB Deante Purvis, E Malo Taumua.
Special teams: None.