College Football: Moore guides Maroon to 28-14 win in spring game
Saturday's installment of the Maroon and Gold Spring Game boiled down to Rocket Arm versus Fleet Feet. In other words, Tyler Arndt and Jordan Moore locked in for their most important scrimmage of the 2013 season.
Since the spring game marks the final scrimmage — and practice — of spring camp, it would be the last time head coach Dennis Franchione and his coaching staff could get a good look at each quarterback. Come fall, Arndt and Moore will tango for the right to lead the Bobcats on the field in the Aug. 31 season opener at Southern Mississippi, while true freshman Tyler Jones tries to cut in.
Arndt impressed for the second consecutive spring game, but Moore did just enough to put himself in a more favorable position heading into the offseason. Moore overcame two first-half turnovers, led three second-half touchdown drives and Maroon posted a 28-14 come-from-behind win in front of 4,608 fans.
"I wanted to prove to (co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) Coach (Mike) Schultz and Coach Fran that I can bounce back, manage the game, stay poised and not let it affect me," Moore said. "You know, move on to the next play."
Moore's revival started on the first possession of the second half when he led a three-play, 63-yard scoring drive culminating in a 54-yard touchdown pass to junior transfer tight end Kris Petersen to knot the score at 7-all. On his previous play-action pass, Moore threw an interception; but all Moore had to do this time was hit a wide-open Petersen in stride.
"They weren't ready for that," said Moore, who completed five of his seven passes for 107 yards. "I came off the play-action and got him for a touchdown. I wanted to prove that I could throw a ball as well as I can run."
Moore nearly gave Maroon the game's first touchdown early in the first quarter with his legs. However, a crushing hit by junior transfer defensive end Michael Odiari sent Moore helicoptering at the goal line and knocked the ball loose. Gold fell on it at the 2-yard line.
"That typifies him a little bit," Franchione said of Moore. "He's capable of making big plays and he made some tonight, but he's also not ready for prime time just yet.
"He's got to clean up some of those mistakes, such as sticking the ball out on third down — which to his defense, we haven't coached it much as a situational standpoint yet, but Jordan has to be smart enough to handle it too."
Unlike Moore, Arndt never turned the ball over Saturday night. Actually, Arndt was the only quarterback not to put the ball on the ground or in the hands of the opposing team. Soon-to-be senior Duke DeLancellotti had the ball knocked from his hands by junior transfer defensive end Kingsley Ike and redshirt freshman Fred Nixon coughed it up after soon-to-be senior defensive end Thomas Evans blasted him to a probable position change in the fall.
"One of my goals coming into the game was to manage the game, take care of the ball and give my team a chance," Arndt said. "Credit to the Maroon team, they outplayed us."
Gold's coaching staff let Arndt air it out, which allowed the Cuero High alumnus a chance to shine. Arndt completed 12 of his 18 passes for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns (both went to soon-to-be junior wide receiver Ben Ijah), the second of which cut Maroon's 14-point lead with 3:09 left in the fourth quarter in half.
"Tyler had some nice drives," Franchione said.
Arndt admitted to wanting at least one throw back, which happened late in the third quarter. A pump fake allowed two receivers (Ijah and soon-to-be junior DeChe' Milburn) to gain separation deep in Maroon territory, but Arndt's wind-resisted throw sailed wide.
Those are throws starting quarterbacks make and Arndt knows from experience there isn't much margin for error.
"You don't want to throw it up and to the opposing team and that's one area where I struggled," Arndt said. "Fortunately I threw it to where only our team could get it or nobody could get it."
Gold punted and two possessions later, Moore put Maroon up by the aforementioned 14 points thanks to a 7-yard touchdown run. Moore led Maroon to points on three of his four second-half drives.
"I felt good about what I did," Moore said. "I'm glad we won.
"Spring ball is over with now, so I'm ready to get back in the weight room, film room and hit it hard to get the offense down more and I'm going into the offseason with the same mentality as everybody else, which is trying to earn a starting job."