Depth Chart |
Because of the small enrollment and the tough academic
restrictions, Rice might be seen as an impossible rebuilding project
on the scale of what Turner Gill has to do at Buffalo and Al Golden
has in front of him at Temple, but new head man Todd Graham at least
has a little bit of history on his side with an 8-4 record as
recently as 2001. However, for Rice to win, it needs to do something
a bit quirky since it doesn't get the top players that other schools
Navy has proved that you can win with an option offense, and under
former head coach Ken Hatfield, this was the type of quirky team
that always caught averaged defenses off guard. Now, Graham will try
to win with the spread offense, and it's going to take time.
Head coach: Todd Graham
Off. 21, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Best Owl Players
1. S Chad Price, Sr.
2. P Jared Scruggs, Sr.
3. S Andray Downs, Sr.
4. RB Quinton Smith, Sr.
5. WR Jarett Dillard, Soph.
6. NG George Chukwu, Jr.
7. OT Rolf Krueger, Sr.
8. LB Vernon James, Soph.
9. CB JaCorey Shepherd, Soph.
10. QB Chase Clement, Soph.
at Florida State
2005 Record: 1-10
2005 predicted wins
at UCLA L 63-21
at Texas L 51-10
at UAB L 45-26
at East Carolina L 41-28
Navy L 41-9
UTEP L 38-31
at Houston L 35-18
give Owl fans hope that the program can potentially be a player, look to
Northwestern, a great academic institution that has the same issues as
Rice. The Wildcats have not only thrived with a version of the spread,
they've been successful in the Big Ten. However, they need everything to
break the right way to come up with winning seasons, and Rice will
eventually need the same sort of luck.
For this year, it's all about just getting from phase one to phase two
and getting the team in line with what the coaching staff wants to do. The
previous regime made a passing nod to throwing it more when it tried to
implement a bit of a spread offense in an effort to save a sinking ship,
but Rice still finished dead last in the nation in passing. Graham has
to make the square pegs fit into the round holes and hope for
quarterback Chase Clement to use the next three years to grow into the
type of all-around playmaker needed to run the spread. Running backs and
former quarterbacks have been turned into receivers to fill the
positions, but the spread is about running the ball, as well.
Fortunately, Quinton Smith is one of the league's most explosive backs.
The defense has experience, but not a whole bunch of talent. Getting
into the backfield will be job one after struggling to generate sacks
and tackles for loss despite having the talents of all-star John Syptak
up front. He's gone, and now the defense has to use its speed and
quickness to be more disruptive.
No, Rice isn't going to win the Conference USA title this season, and
it's probably not even going to crack the three win mark. It'll be about
improving from wee to week and getting everything in place for the
Schedule: It's not like Rice needs more problems, but it has three,
three game road stretches that would test any team. The UCF, UTEP and
Tulsa tilt should especially try the team's toughness, but on the plus
side, the season ends with home games against East Carolina and SMU. The
non-conference schedule has a painful three game stretch of at UCLA,
Texas and at Florida State before going to Army for what has to be a
must-win. Even the home opener isn't really a true home game
playing in-town Houston.
Offensive Player: Senior RB Quinton Smith. The team's best running back
last season is a big play threat and will be the main man in the offense
until the passing game starts to click. He's deadly when he gets a
little room to run, so the idea will be to get the ball to him on the
move as much as possible.
Defensive Player: Senior S Chad Price. Part safety and part
linebacker, Price joins Andray Downs to give Rice one of Conference
USA's most experienced safety pairs. Price is great at getting into the
backfield and is a sure tackler, but he has to starting picking off
to a successful season: Sophomore QB Chase Clement. The new spread
offense won't work unless Clement is a steady decision maker and
improves his passing. He struggled as a freshman finishing with a passer
rating of 85.8 and only completed 43% of his throws. With the running
skills and the smarts to run the attack, he should turn out to be a
great fit ... eventually.
will be a success if ... Rice comes up with three wins. It came close to beating UCF and UTEP
over the second half of last season and it beat Tulane, but it's going
to take big upsets to come close to winning more than a few games. It'll
be a shock if the Owls are favored in any game this year.
Nov. 25 vs. SMU. The new coaching staff is going to need at least a
year to get everything in place and for the team to figure out what it's
doing. No one will say it's all about playing for the future, but the
season finale against SMU will be important to see where the team is at
and what needs working on for 2007.
The Last Time Rice…
- Fumbles: Rice 34, lost 16 - Opponents 11, lost 5
- Penalties: Opponents 91 for 860 yards - Rice 54 for 486 yards
- Third down conversions: Opponents 65 of 138 (47%) - Rice 63 of 169
…played in a bowl game…1961 (Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Kansas)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1995 (UNLV)
…was shutout…2000 (TCU)
…scored 50 points…2004 (San Jose State)
…won a conference title…1994 (share, SWC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1976 (Tommy Kramer)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Ed Bailey)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…1980 (RB Earl Cooper)