Spencer shows speed, explosiveness in opener
Junior receiver Daniel Spencer envisioned striding into the end zone when head coach Tony Levine called his number.
After sophomore running back Ryan Jackson started the third quarter with back-to-back 12-yard runs, it was Spencer’s turn to make a big play.
Spencer received a toss on an end-around reverse that went the distance from 45 yards to give the Cougars a 34-6 lead. It was Spencer’s first touchdown on his first rushing attempt.
“I told Coach I was going to do it. So when my number was called, I knew it was coming,” Spencer said.
Everything on the play was well executed.
Jackson and sophomore running back Kenneth Farrow were lined up in a two-back shotgun set with redshirt junior quarterback David Piland. When Piland snapped the ball, he faked the draw to Farrow and the quick outlet pass in the flat to Jackson.
Southern was taken out of position as they ran left toward the elusive Jackson, who rushed for two touchdowns in the first half and made the misdirection play look like a work of art when Spencer went untouched down the right sideline.
Jackson, who rushed for 120 yards on 10 carries, said he was impressed with Spencer’s run.
“I rate that a 10 out of 10. I could see where it was going the whole time.”
Spencer’s touchdown run was just one of his many highlights throughout the night. He was able to catch a career-high nine balls, including two for touchdowns en route to 102 yards receiving. One occurred when he sprinted to the pylon on a quick pass from nine yards out, and the other was for 11 yards when he beat his defender to the far left side of the end zone for an easy score.
Spencer has shown previous ability to explode in games.
Last season against Louisiana Tech, he caught seven balls for a total of 157 yards to a go along with a 74-yard touchdown reception. He also had games in which he nearly eclipsed the century mark in receiving with 99 and 96 yards against Rice and SMU respectively.
“He’s right up there in terms of the most improved player from the end of last season to this camp,” Levine said. “He’s done a great job in the last four weeks, and I’m proud of his effort tonight.”
Farrow and Jackson may have stole the show in the first half with a combined 144 yards rushing, but the rest of the night belonged to Spencer.