I liked the hire of former Stanford OC Mike Bloomgren, and despite a 2-11 start in year one (an improvement from 1-11 the previous year!) I’m sticking with it.
Rice was always going to be a work in progress, but this team should improve a bunch even if a tough schedule will make it hard for most to notice.
Four QBs threw at least 20 passes last year, two return between sophomore Evan Marshmaan and redshirt freshman Wiley Green. The Owls add a Harvard grad transfer in Tom Stewart, who threw at a 14-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year.
Juniors Austin Trammell, Aaron Cephus, and Rhett Cardwell return in the receiving game, along with two deep threats in converted DB D’Angelo Ellis and TE Jordan Myers. The Owls also add in JUCO transfer Bradley Rozner.
The top two rushers are gone along with a couple of names on the line, but Stanford grad transfer Brian Chaffin will come in at center. Guard Nick Leverett comes in from North Carolina Central, and tackle Justin Gooseberry was all-DII last year. The new back will be Juma Otoviano who averaged 5.6 yards per attempt last year, far above the top two rushers, although it remains to be seen if he can hold it up with more attempts.
The Rice defense wasn’t that good last year but they bring back eight of their top 11 tacklers so should be more experienced.
The line and the corner spot lose some key pieces, but interesting players return like WLB Blake Alldredge, SS Prudy Calderon (four interceptions) and end Anthony Epke (six sacks). Do-it-all lineman Myles Adams is someone that really intrigues me after picking up 2.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL as a backup last year.
Corner is a pretty big question mark, a pair of underclassmen are the projected starters in sophomore Tyrae Thornton and redshirt freshman Andrew Bird. They could get exposed but this is a super young defense with just one senior in the starting lineup, so this could be a defense to watch out for in 2020.
The schedule is really rough, toughest in the conference with no FCS game, all four non-conference games being 14-plus point underdogs and their two most likely wins in conference play (UTSA, UTEP) on the road.
It might be time to start looking towards 2020. This is a young team with a lot of potential, but they also have the potential to have one of the worst records in the country in 2019.
|Date||Opponent||Opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|14-Sep||vs. Texas (houston, tx)||14||-26.0|
|16-Nov||at Middle Tennessee||94||-15.1|
Average Projected Record: 2.5 wins, 9.5 losses (1.9 wins, 6.1 losses)