Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Conference USA 2010-Rice Owls

2009 Record: 2-10 (2-6)
Head Coach: David Bailiff (4th season, 15-22...36-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: David Beaty (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Dreisbach (4th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Not in the same universe as bowl eligible

Offense: Rice was the 111th ranked team in total offense in 2009. That's how you go 2-10. Nick Fanuzzi is back to run the offense at QB, but he missed spring ball, and now there is competition lining up to bump him off the top of the depth chart, as Taylor McHargue and Miami transfer Taylor Cook got all of the reps in Fanuzzi's absence. Michigan transfer Sam McGuffie is the primary back in the spread offense. McGuffie showed flashes at Michigan, so this could be a very nice pick up for the Owls. Patrick Randolph and Pierre Beasley are back at WR, but will both have to bump their games way up to help improve a lifeless offense. TE Vance McDonald is expected to be heavily involved in the passing game as well. All 5 linemen return, so there is some experience here, but it won't mean a thing unless everyone gets better at what they do.

Defense: The Owls were the worst team in 1-A football last season in points allowed (43.1). They ranked 117th in total defense, were 102nd against the run, and were 114th against the pass. Those numbers are as ugly as it gets in college football. Only once all season did the Owls hold a football team to under 27 points, and that was against Tulane. DEs Cheta Ozougwu and Scott Solomon registered more tackles than any other duo in the conference, and they will lead the line. S Travis Bradshaw racked up 121 tackles and averaged 7.5 unassisted tackles per game, best in the nation, but your safety should not be making that many tackles in isolation. This should be a total rebuild job philosophically and physically.

Special Teams: Junior Brandon Yelovich is the new PK, and is completely untested. Punter Kyle Martens was a top 20 punter last season, but has to remain healthy, which was an issue last season.

2010 Schedule

Wins: None

Toss Up Games: 9/11 @ North Texas, 11/13 @ Tulane

Losses: 9/4 Texas, 9/18 Northwestern, 9/25 Baylor, 10/2 SMU, 10/9 @ UTEP, 10/16 Houston, 10/23 @ Central Florida, 11/6 @ Tulsa, 11/20 East Carolina, 11/27 UAB

No doubt, this is ugly. There is not one guaranteed win on the dockett foe the Owls. Another 2-10 season could be on the horizon...or worse.

Outlook: I was never a hige fan of the Bailiff hiring. He never had sustained success at 1-AA Texas State before being hired at Rice, and he was following a very short, but very energetic era after Todd Graham bolted for league rival Tulsa after one season. Graham had the Owls on the right track, and it all came unraveled at Bailiff's expense. I don't see a very good season or future for this program right now. One note...Rice was one of the two youngest football teams in the nation last season, but that's not a great excuse as to how bad this team was.

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