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So a little Rice dish this weekend. What about the Owls?

If rest of last year is kind of hazy to you because of that 19-66 beating we took in the last game of the regular season you may not remember how we dropped 63 points on the Owls last season.


2 Live Drew Demolished Rice 63-21 in 05 (photo credit - Lori Shepler / LAT)

Well these guys are back for more with a new coach as mentioned in the LA Times.

They actually looked pretty decent against the Houston last weekend. They scored some points- 30 - in a 30-31 heartbreaking loss to the Cougars. What's interesting that it was a game of streaks. Cougs went up 14-0, Rice then came roaring back with 30 answer points before completely collapsing in the second half.

Here are Rice's situation stats courtesy of college football statistics. As you can see couple of huge plays in the first half. A 52 yard running play and an 80 yard passing (senior RB Quinton Smith's catch and run) one, which basically accounted for about half (47%) of their total offensive production (283 yards) against Houston.

Quinton Smith is the guy to keep your eye on. He is pretty good. Here is CFN:

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.
Quinton didn't have much luck against the Kerr "defense" last year running for 20 yards on 4 attempts. Guess we can expect Mr. Smith to be a little stronger and more experience this season, but we can fully expect our defense to shut him down, and have another non descript day at the Rose Bowl.

Sophomore QB Chase Clement is supposed to be a decent athlete. He had a mediocre 2005 campaign. He completed only 46% of his passes last season.  He was not all that great against Houston this past Saturday either staying at that 46 % clip. BTW Clement had a dreadful performance against UCLA completing 3 of 8 passes for 31 yards. So we can expect our defense to bring it this Saturday. I'd imagine the DeWayne Walker will be working on the DL to make sure they are not giving anything on the run, and putting some serious pressure on the QBs.  I'd like to see the Own QB running for his life, hurrying his throws, and spending a lot of time on his back. Walker will also get some help from the LBing crew since both Hale and McNeal should be back in the rotation this weekend.  So yeah we expect to see Mr. Clement most of his Saturday night looking at the stars at the Rose Bowl sky.

Now as for the Owls defense we mentioned how they gave up 63 points to 2LiveDrew this past season. This year could be interesting. They did hold to Houston to less than 100 yards rushing. But then again we are talking about Houston. Their best defensive player Chad Price sounds like a lower grade version of Eric Weddle of Utah. From CFN:
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 passes.
Another kid to keep an eye on is LB Brian Raines who apparently had 17 tackles in his first start:
Rice's Brian Raines had an auspicious coming-out party against the University of Houston Cougars Saturday night. Participating in his first varsity start, Brian came up with 17, count 'em, seventeen tackles -- a figure that puts him at the head of the class for Conference USA after Week One games. The Lovett College sophomore was relegated to the defensive secondary last year as a redshirt freshman for the Owls. He nevertheless played in all 11 games and was credited with 25 tackles on the season. This year, he obviously found it comfortable being back home at the linebacker spot, a position that he played as a schoolboy at Houston Willowridge.
To get more info. on Rice football you can check out this site which includes some smack on academic rankings. lol

On a serious note the Rice site did include this note on their new HC Todd Graham and how his team pulled off a moral victory against the Houston Cougars:
[I]n January, Ken Hatfield resigned, and we hired a new football coach by the name of Todd Graham ? since he had the same last name as our Casey-Stengel-esque baseball coach, Wayne Graham, we figured it was a good bet. Wayne?s teams, after all, are perennial entrants in the College World Series in Omaha and in ?03 took the whole enchilada ? against Stanford, by the way. Last year we finished third in the CWS, and came home disappointed.

Todd Graham clearly aspires to the same kind of success on the gridiron that his namesake has achieved on the diamond. To that end, he immediately raised some $6 million in the first six months of his employ, simply by making speeches to small groups of alums and buttonholing the more affluent among them -- and not letting go until they forked over. He's that intense. With that, he immediately effectuated a complete makeover of venerable Rice Stadium, bringing it up to contemporary standards, big Jumbotron and all.

Todd spent half a million bucks on audio-visual equipment alone, bringing Rice out of the mid-20th Century when it came to what he likes to refer to as ?schematics.? He instituted a summer school program for his players, keeping them together and on (or near) campus for the first time in school history.

And he went out and hired an energetic young staff, all guys who know how to coach the game and engender a sense of excitement. One, for example, is former University of Texas quarterback Major Applewhite, who at age 26 is the youngest offensive coordinator in Division 1A.

His efforts appeared immediately to bear fruit in the season opener against crosstown-rival University of Houston. The Owls were 14-point ?dogs, and most betting parlors had singled out the game as the ?lock of the week? ? laying the points, that is.

But Saturday night in Rice Stadium, the Owls surged to a 27-14 halftime lead, and were ahead 30-14 with two minutes left in the third quarter, when their accursed fate caught up with them. UH scored 17 unanswered points in the last 17 minutes of the game to eke out the Owls, 31-30.
That's nice and all, but we are still expecting nothing short of a blowout this Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

Didn't find much on the Tube on Rice Football, except for this against the Major's alma mater:



Yeah the kinds of matchups Rice football program gets involved in can confuse even one of the Great Leaders in history:



All kidding aside (right now) UCLA (football) is not Texas, and BO is no Vince Young. Not yet. He needs to beat SC to get to that territory. But you get the picture on Rice football and the Owl's defense.

This game should be an opportunity to really get our running game cranking up again.  I'd be surprised if the Owls are stacking the box putting up 7-8 men challenging Big Ben to pick apart their suspect secondary. So this should be time for the OL to get the run blocking assignments in sync, creating room for Markey, Bell, and Moline to run through.  I would also like to see the coaches and the RBs to run outside instead of slamming up the middle. It seems it would be best to get Markey, Bell in open spaces.

And yes it will be interesting to watch how Big Ben adjusts this weekend. The spotlight is going to be on him.  We are not the only one taking notice any more.  So we can expect Rice to bring something extra in their secondary package.  As mentioned, I'd be surprised if Rice goes with the Utah strategy to stopping the run.  They are going to mix up their defense coverage. I'd think they may drop back their LBs and not bring up the safeties to help out with the run. So Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya may not be getting the open looks they were getting this past weekend.

So Ben will have to manage the game. He needs to make sure he is not forcing anything relying on his athletic abilities. Lets hope our RBs are fired up after their mediocre performance this past weekend.  This should be their week to get it all cranking. And if they can get the job done BO will continue to shine.

And we expect Dorrell and co. to get the job done.

Bottom line UCLA SHOULD DESTROY Rice this weekend just like it did last year.

After Saturday we should be looking at 7 more wins and beating SC.

GO BRUINS.